DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer will talk about his upbringing in Oklahoma, his childhood basketball aspirations, his offseason plumbing job and of course his pitching when he joins MLB Network's Eric Byrnes on this week's episode of Play Ball, the network's kids-oriented show designed to connect youngsters with the game.The show
DETROIT -- Michael Fulmer will talk about his upbringing in Oklahoma, his childhood basketball aspirations, his offseason plumbing job and of course his pitching when he joins MLB Network's Eric Byrnes on this week's episode of Play Ball, the network's kids-oriented show designed to connect youngsters with the game.
The show airs Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, with a rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m.
Fulmer filmed the episode in Houston while the Tigers were there in late May. He talked about his rise from former Mets prospect to Tigers' trade acquisition two years ago to American League Rookie of the Year last season. He also discussed how he throws his nasty fastball, how he grips it, how he decides when to throw it.
"I tried to keep it as simple as I could and talked about direction to home plate and how to learn how to command your fastball before starting to throw other things," Fulmer said. "It was a pretty cool experience."
The fact that Fulmer was chosen for the segment was an honor for him, the latest of many. He has gotten used to the uptick in attention ever since his sudden rise last year, but the fact that he could talk to kids was big for him.
"My thing is, and what I tried to portray, was that everybody here started where 9- and 10-year-olds are now," Fulmer said. "Everybody here had a dream to play in the big leagues. And obviously, the percentages of getting to the big leagues are very slim. But if you teach guys to play the game the right way, have fun doing it, and not to give up, kids' dreams can come true. I think it's important for them to know that we started out the same place they are now, and we're all here for a reason. We love this game, and we play the game right way."
Among the tidbits in the interview was the little-known info of Fulmer's two-sport career in high school. While he's a well-known basketball fan who attends Oklahoma City Thunder games when he's home in the winter -- and still gets sensitive whenever Kevin Durant's departure is brought up -- he also played the game.
"I played baseball and basketball," he said on the show. "I played basketball all the way up to my senior year of high school. I actually liked it more than baseball when I was in high school, but I realized I was only 6-foot-2 and couldn't jump, so I put that aside for something I was a little better at. That's when I focused on baseball my senior year, and the rest got me here."
Fulmer also went into the origins of his offseason plumbing job.
"It started with a buddy of mine; his uncle owns his own plumbing company," he said. "I started working with him; he needed an extra set of hands. It started once every couple of weeks, twice every couple of weeks, whatever it may be. Then last year, he really needed some help, so I was working probably three or four days a week, doing whatever he needed. I learned a ton, so I went from not being very handy around the house to actually having an idea of what I'm doing."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.