OUTFIELDER // 9TH MLB SEASON // 2015 GOLD GLOVE AWARD WINNER // ARIZONA STATE ALUM
D-BACKS INSIDER: How did your “The Mayor of Omaha,” “The Raspberry Raker” and “Carrot Top” nicknames come about?
KOLE CALHOUN: C.J. Wilson had a thousand different nicknames for me in Anaheim. He’d rhyme anything related to the color of my hair. I think he also had “The Habanero Hammer,” too. “The Mayor of Omaha” came from a former ASU public relations guy back when I had a really good College World Series. My old ASU coach Pat Murphy probably had 50 nicknames for me in addition to “Carrot Top.”
DI: So if you had to pick one nickname, what would it be?
KC: None of those! For a Players Weekend jersey one year I had “Koleman” because I had a college coach call me that all the time. Mike Trout called me that all the time, too, so that stuck in the Angels’ clubhouse. When I was in junior college, I had a buddy who called me “Kolesky.” No one had ever called me that and then my sister and my dad started using it, as well as Merrill Kelly. So I put “Kolesky” on the back of my jersey last year, and I think I am going to do it again this year.
DI: Being a Valley native, what’s it like getting that hometown feel again?
KC: I was a D-backs fan growing up and getting to the big leagues has always been my ultimate goal, but getting a chance to hit free agency and come back here is fantastic. To be back home and wear my favorite team’s jersey with my name on the back, I am going to be able to go out and play for the team that I love. It’s full circle, and it’s unbelievable in my mind that this is even happening.”
DI: Who was your favorite D-backs player growing up?
KC: Luis Gonzalez was one of my favorites growing up. When we won the World Series in 2001, I was 10, it was such a cool moment for me as a kid. Watching that game and then signing here and getting to interact now with Gonzo on a daily basis, it’s surreal. I wouldn’t even have been able to imagine that as a kid. I was also a fan of Matt Williams, Jay Bell and Danny Bautista. Those guys maybe weren’t household names, but they were players who I really enjoyed watching.
I first met Gonzo when I was on a flight with him from here to California. Meeting a childhood hero was a cool moment. He sat down, and we just chatted the whole flight. At that point, I had been in the big leagues for a while, so it was like we shared a common playing field for a little bit. Still, in my mind, I was thinking that this guy was an idol I was getting to talk to. I recognized that was a special moment.
DI: You moved from Phoenix to nearby Buckeye when you were 14. How did that transition go?
KC: I really enjoyed it. I started high school not knowing anyone but I got a chance to play football and baseball. I played on varsity as a freshman and I just kept on going. I loved to play. It didn’t matter where I went, I was going to enjoy playing sports. High school was a blast. My family still lives out there, and I met my wife there. We started dating in high school, and I chased her around for a couple of years before she wanted to give me a shot, but I am glad she did. We were homecoming king and queen. It was a cool little love story.