Nick Swisher likes to have fun. Throughout a long and successful career — Swisher hit 245 home runs and won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 — the outfielder was always known for his buoyant personality. He became the “Mayor of Brohio,” while playing in Cleveland, an honorific bestowed upon him as a fan favorite and for his effusive use of the word, “Bro.” The Ohio State baseball field is named in his honor and he performed in television shows alongside his wife, actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher.
It all came about because Swisher is never afraid of new challenges, never scared to say “yes” to a new opportunity. Now, he’s looking for a new challenge and is bringing his infectious energy, highlight-reel home runs and baseball acumen around the globe with HRDX.
“[I’ll pitch if] needed, brother, whatever you need, baby,” Swisher said with a laugh in a recent Zoom interview, a smile almost permanently attached to his face. “You need a trainer, I’m there for your you. You need somebody to tape up some bats — an equipment manager — I got you there, too. I can sew a little bit — not great, but I can do my part. Waterboy? I’m your guy. That’s what I think this thing is all about. It’s having the ability to be part of a team again. And not only to be part of just a normal team, but to be part of a global team, to help build the game that we all love.”
We got a chance to catch up with the former outfielder as the London event soon approaches on July 9. Read on to learn what excites him about HRDX, his favorite memory from his career, and if he ever harbored dreams of turning to acting full-time.
Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity and length.
MLB: What excited you about taking part in HRDX?
Nick Swisher: I’ve been a lover of this game since I was born. There’s been a passion for this game my entire life. And to be able to help when your career is over, like, bro, that’s what most of us are trying to do. When you retire, you’ve done something that — to be frankly honest — not a whole lot of people in the world have been able to do. So, to be able to help grow the game that you’ve loved your entire life — that’s right up my alley. That’s right up Johnny [Gomes]’ alley. That’s right up Geo [Soto]’s alley. It’s right up Adrián [González]’s alley. That’s all we want to do.
MLB: When you played in a Yankees Old-Timers’ Day Game a few years back, you immediately came out and smashed a home run. Are you confident that you’ll come out on top of this thing?
NS: I feel good. Let’s put it that way. I think this is such an amazing opportunity — who wouldn’t want to put the jersey back on and and go out and just do nothing but try and hit homers? I can’t wait. I think it’s gonna be so much fun. I think the one thing that I’m excited to see is just the overall setup. It’s going to be a little different and I hope people are open to that. I hope people really take notice of the excitement that we’re trying to bring. Being able to to affect the offensive side and the defensive side in a Home Run Derby — how much fun is that going to be?
MLB: Have you spoken with your teammates yet? Have you started giving them any tips?
NS: I don’t think I need to give Erika [Piancastelli] any advice. She’s absolutely mashing — she’s actually in the middle of her season right now in Japan, playing for the Galaxy Stars. That girl is probably one of the greatest collegiate softball players to ever put on a uniform. She doesn’t need any help at all.
My guy Daniel [Corral] — if you’ve seen Daniel on his Instagram, this dude is put together. He’s an Olympian, he’s a gymnast, he’s handsome, he’s got all of it together. So yes, we have been talking to each other on Instagram for a little bit now, which has been so great.
I always wanted to be the coach that I wanted to have. And the best coaches that I’ve ever had in my life were the human beings who were just with me, that weren’t trying to fix the problem, but were just with me. If I was down on both knees on the ground, they were down on both knees on the ground with me, too. Those were the individuals that just helped me up and I never forgot that. I understand what sort of impact you can have on young athletes in that sort of moment. So, I tried to take that sort of mentality into my coaching life, as well.
MLB: Baseball’s a really hard game. How did you maintain that positive attitude that you’re known for?
NS: Listen, nobody likes getting their ass kicked. But you learn a lot about yourself in dark times. If you’re just flying across life and you’re dominating every day, you’re probably not learning a whole lot. But the game of baseball is a very humbling sport. Maybe I’m as happy as I am now because I don’t have to go 0-for-4 for anymore, right? I don’t have to stress about punching out three times against Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer or somebody like that. Right now I’m a silver linings guy because I remember how difficult the game was.
MLB: HRDX will hopefully introduce new fans to the sport who may not have seen you play before. Is there a moment in your career that you want fans to remember you for?
NS: Bronx, New York. Yankee Stadium, Game 6 [of the 2009 World Series], bottom of the ninth, Mariano Rivera is on the mound. Shane Victorino hits a jam job to Robbie Canó. Robbie Canó [throws to] Mark Teixeira, Yankees win their 27th World Series championship. I’ll never forget the moment because there’s a couple of cool pictures with me swan diving on top of the team as they were dogpiling on the mound.
I want to be remembered as a champ. I want to be remembered in that moment because that just doesn’t happen — and it somehow happened to me! I could not be more blessed. Everybody else that’s part of this Home Run Derby has had some World Series experiences, as well. Some of us were lucky enough to be champs, some of us not, but to be able to experience that sort of high and to be able to reach the top of the mountain — bro, that’s it, you can’t get any higher than that. That’s a feeling like I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
NS: So, either that or I want people to remember me for being the guy that takes his kids to school every single morning because that’s what I’m doing now. As much as I want people to remember me for being a baseball player, I want people to remember me for just being me, just putting a smile on somebody’s face. ‘Wow, that guy did things the right way.’ I want to be a role model.
I guess there was also a moment in my career where I made all three outs in the outfield Yankee Stadium. And when I made the third out, there was just this crazy joy that came over my face for achieving something as simple as making three outs in right field.
MLB: You may also surprise some fans with your acting history, having performed in “Better with You,” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Did your wife — actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher — give you any tips?
NS: She gives me acting tips every time I do something! I’m like, ‘Joan, momma, I need you to run lines with me.’ She was like, ‘Nick, you’ve got one line.’ And I’m like, ‘I know, but I want it to be the best one line ever!’ I’m so lucky to have somebody like her next to me, that can help me out in those times.
I’ve been out in the public eye and acting is such an uncomfortable thing. Number one, I don’t think I’m that good, which is obviously awkward anyways. But I’ve never said no to an opportunity like that. Because I like stepping out of my own comfort zone. You put me in the middle of a baseball field in front of a billion people — no stress, I’m right at home. But you put me on the stage and you give me one line which consisted of three words and somehow I can find a way to mess that up.
Like I said, I’ve been able to do a lot of cool stuff in my life and I could not be more thankful and grateful for all those moments. But once again, you’ve got to say yes to experience those things. And I’m hoping that’s exactly what Home Run Derby X is.
MLB: So, no chance of you becoming the actor of the family?
NS: Yeah, right, dude! Now, my youngest daughter might be, but no, not me. I was like, ‘Just put me on as a bartender in the corner and maybe I can slide somebody a drink.’