PUBLICIST [TO OZZIE]: They’re going to be asking you about the foundation and event and a little bit about your personal side.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing too deep. This isn’t “60 Minutes”.
OZZIE: Listen, I don’t think you’re old enough to go very deep with me! But you can ask me about whatever you want.
You’ve had a long and respected MLB career. What do you think set you on the path for success?
Hard work. Hard work and believing in yourself. I think people spend too much time worrying about making mistakes and caring what other people think. When I got to this country I was 16 years old and knew no English, had no family, no food and no money. I know I wasn’t the only one who did that but the difference between my story and somebody else’s is that I had a job and came here on a plane. I’m not taking that for granted. I came to this country with one thing on my mind and for the same reason everyone else did, to try to make money and hopefully have a better life.
WAS IT THE DAYS THAT YOU WERE PLAYING OR MANAGING THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
To me my time playing was the best. It was the 1980s with no social media, no cellular phones. No matter what you were doing, nobody really cared. No matter what you said, nobody paid attention to it. Now I can’t even go to bars! In the ’80s I was in the bar everywhere having fun. Now you can’t because they know who you are, what you do and where you are.
DO YOU READ ANY OF THE THINGS FANS WRITE TO YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I quit tweeting. I have a problem with tweeting because when I tweet, anything I say somebody out there doesn’t like. If I do it in Spanish, people in English hate it. If I say it in English, people in Spanish hate it. If I talk about the color blue people are like, “Why do you like blue?” so I said, “You know what? I’m done!” It’s not worth it because you take more negative than positive. People think you owe them something. They think they have the right to call you names and it’s like, what do you mean? I don’t even know you! I still re-tweet things but I wish I could tweet what was really in my mind. It would be very nasty and fun.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
There are a few things in my life. When I was signed in professional baseball people said, “He’s gonna last a week. He too little, too skinny,” then I operated for 17 years in my career. When I was getting married, my wife was the best-looking woman in the neighborhood and they said, “That’s gonna last a week. They’re gonna get divorced. She’s too pretty for him,” and I’m still married after 30 years. It’s been like that all of my life. When somebody says, “You can’t do this,” then I just want to rub it in people’s faces and I always go over the top to show them that I’m better than what they think. If you put me there, I’ll show you what I can do! Either you hate me or you love me and sometimes that’s my fault because I’m so clear. People in general like to hear what they think is right but they don’t like to hear the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and gets you in trouble but listen, I never lie. I tell you the way it is.
DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
Not really. Well, I regret in baseball when I was talking about Alex Rodriguez. Not because of what I said but just because, who is Ozzie Guillen to be talking about it? That day Alex was going to the media and talking about what I said about him and when I said Alex was not Dominican it’s because, well he’s not! You’re not Dominican because your mom was born in the Dominican. You were born in the United States so you’re from the United States! But that was not my business to tell you who you are and what you come from and I think it was kind of a cheap shot to a guy I had nothing to do with. But I just say what I say.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE RIGHT NOW?
Believe or not, I had a problem with him last year. It’s Bryce Harper. I love Harper! As for my favorite player in the White Sox, you know me. I love P.K. [Paul Konerko] and A.J. [Pierzynski], who was there then, but I think my favorite player in the White Sox right now is Alexei Ramirez. That kid is pretty good.
Do you still call Chicago home?
Yes, Chicago is my home. My house is in Bucktown. I live at North Ave. and Wolcott. I had never left Chicago, I just didn’t work out of Chicago [when I was managing the Miami Marlins]. I’m not a fan of Miami as a city because I’m married, that’s the only reason it’s bad. If you’re single, it’s the best place to go. Miami is beautiful, you can’t deny it’s beautiful but it feels like nobody cares about anybody there. It’s like, you live your life, I’ll live my life and move on. Everything is so spread apart and you have to drive everywhere. Miami’s just different. This city of Chicago is just more of my kind of place.
Why did you choose the neighborhood of Bucktown?
I lived in the West Loop for a long time but I think I moved to Bucktown just because I really liked the house I wanted to buy. I spend more time in Chicago than I spend in Caracas [Venezuela] or any other place. The only difference is here in Chicago I always have my hand raised saying hi to people. I’ll walk my English bulldog and you can ask anyone, I’m known around the street. I love my neighbors. I think I love Chicago more now that I moved to that neighborhood. It’s just a lot of young people, everyone’s outgoing, people are out, there’s a lot of traffic. I’m a city guy! You go to different places in the states and around the world and then when you come to Chicago you appreciate what you have. This is the best city in the world and it’s not just because I live here. Chicago has everything you want. And it’s just fun!
What are some of your favorite hangouts?
I think to pick one would be unfair but I always go to Lucia’s, an Italian restaurant right there at North and Honore. It’s a little spot with very nice people and unbelievable home-cooked Italian food. When you go there, order Ozzie’s pasta. They make a pasta just for me. I never eat anything else!
You and your wife Ibis just marked your 30th wedding anniversary. How did you celebrate?
We did the vows, how do you say, re-married? Renewed our vows! There you go! We renewed our vows and did it in Panama with just our kids and friends.
What have you learned is the key to a successful matrimony?
Ah, my God. I think I believe in respect more than love. Respect brings everything together. With love you can love your dog, you can love your sister, but respect I think is more important in a marriage. Respect and communication and trust. If you don’t have trust it’s just not healthy. I think my career helped our marriage though because I don’t think I could handle being with someone day-in and day-out. When we’re hating each other it’s time for me to go to another city. “I’ll see you in a couple weeks!” [Laughs] It always made our time together feel like a honeymoon. Then in the off-season we just travel with the kids. My wife is a great mom, that’s the most important thing, and she’s my best friend. I’m very lucky to have married someone who supports me in my career no matter what, through the good and the bad. This career brings you a lot of good things but it’s more negative than positive, people don’t realize that.
How has your marriage evolved over the years?
Well, better sex! Because now we don’t have to worry about the kids! I think some people after being married for 30 years will just kiss their wife on the cheek and say, “K, see you around!” My wife is my best friend, but she’s not my sister! I think every year has gotten better. She’s a pain in the butt just like every woman, the same way women think about us, but I think you have to try to have the most fun you can whenever you can. One thing with my wife is it never gets boring with her. I can go any place with her and have a great time. We can go to a little bar, we can see the president of the United States, we can see a bullfight, we can sit and watch soap operas for hours. I watch soap operas every night before I go to bed. Sometimes I tell my wife, “Can we have sex before the soap opera?” because sometimes in the middle of the soap opera she falls asleep and I’m like, “Ugh! Another waste of a night!” [Laughs] So then we have sex before the soap operas.
What kind of husband are you?
You’d have to ask her that. I’m fun. I’m very quiet, believe it or not. In the house I’m kind of quiet. I think I’m a fun husband. I let my wife do whatever she wants. I’m the, “Okay!” guy.
WHEN YOU FIRST BROUGHT YOUR CHARITY TO CHICAGO YOU KICKED IT OFF WITH A SALSA WITH THE STARS FUNDRAISER. ARE YOU A GOOD SALSA DANCER?
I’m a very good salsa dancer. I think I’m a better salsa dancer than baseball player. I learned to dance salsa before I learned to play baseball.
IT’S BEEN 15 YEARS SINCE YOU FOUNDED THE OZZIE GUILLEN FOUNDATION. WHY WAS NOW THE TIME TO BRING IT TO THE STATES?
We just got the permission to bring the foundation to the states this year. I always say it’s easier in this country to do illegal things than legal things. When we started this in Venezuela people thought it was for publicity so people would think, “See, he’s not a bad guy,” but I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m 49 and I’ve opened 30 kindergartens in Venezuela, I’ve been helping a lot of kids with autism and a lot of people with cancer and doing this since I was 26. I have never said no to a single charity event the White Sox have asked me to do. I don’t really care what people think about who I am or what they read about me. I do this because I think God gives us so many good things and I want to give back to the community where I grew up. I feel good about it.
What’s next for you, are we going to see you working in L.A.?
L.A.!? No, that’s too far!
There has been speculation about you going to the Dodgers.
When you don’t have a job, you’ve managed and have a little bit of a name, every time a team loses a couple games in a row your name is going to pop up. To be honest, I want to be back in the game as a manager but here’s the thing, you know me, I grew up in old school baseball and that’s not there anymore. I want to be back in the game as a coach but I love my job right now [as a MLB analyst at ESPN]. I only work Sundays and Mondays and I am making good money. I don’t have to worry about the boss, leaving on time or talking to the media. I love baseball but the things that come with the game are not easy. We’ll have to wait and see but I’d love to be back in the game.
So what’s it going to take for you to get back in the game?
Somebody to call me!
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
I have to pick one person? Wow, that’s a good one because I admire a lot of people. A lot of people would like to think it’s a woman I would pick but it would have to be a bullfighter. The thing is though I’ve already had a drink with the bullfighters I’ve wanted to have a drink with so it would have to be President Obama. I want to know how it feels to have so much pressure and so many people who hate you and so many people who like you. I want to ask him, “How much do you sleep? How many meetings do you have a day? How many phone calls you have a day? When do you have time to have sex? When do you have time to talk to your kids? When do you have time to have a a drink?” If you are the president of the United States of America, you’re maybe—besides the Pope if you are Catholic—the most powerful man in the world. Why do you want to be that guy?
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