Getting to know rookie Vic Black, a man of the people

Sarah Langs, Intern & Special Contributor

The subway system is the fastest way to get around town in New York, people often say. Of course, it’s a little different swiping your Metrocard and getting on a crowded train if you’re a professional athlete, somebody who’s paid to be in the public eye. But nonetheless, every year it seems there are Mets players who choose to ride the 7 line to the Willets Point stop, rather than drive.

Vic Black is this year’s mass transit commuter…


MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies


The righty reliever, who’s still a rookie, arrived via trade on August 29 last year from the Pirates, in the deal that sent John Buck and Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh. This year, he was called up on May 27 from Triple-A Las Vegas and has a 1.88 ERA in 28 appearances.

Those major league appearances have all had one thing in common: so long as they’ve been home games, Black’s method of transport has been the 7 line. A man of the people, he rides to and from home games surrounded by other New Yorkers. His reasons for taking the train extend beyond the simple logic of having been a late-May call-up this year.

“I think it’s just part of the New York experience,” he told me at Citi Field. “I just feel like if I’m going to play in New York, to be a part of the city, what you’re supposed to do in New York is public transportation.”

Of course, taking the subway after a baseball game is a little different than a midday commute…



Vic Black has some fun


“To me, it’s cool, especially after games. You hop on and especially late, Mets fans are everywhere, and they’re still talking about the game,” Black said.

One would think that the players who avoid situations, like taking the subway, do it to avoid desperate autograph and photograph seekers. Do people recognize Black on the train?

“Here and there, they do. They probably do, maybe more now, but no one really says much, because I usually have friends with me and people are fairly respectful,” Black said. “Which is nice, but at the same time, I get on the train to be a part of [the city].

“I love being around people, which is why I think New York fits me, personality-wise.”

It seems he’d almost rather people didn’t leave him alone, whether they see him on the subway or on the street.

For every cool as a cucumber New Yorker, though, there are those who choose — respectfully — to say hello to the relief pitcher.

“I had a guy say something to me when I came out of a theater,” Black said. “On our four days off for the All-Star break I went and saw a movie and it was like 11:30 at night. I came out and I pass a guy and he goes, ‘Hey Vic, have a great second half!’”


Vic Black 1w


While there’s nothing harmful in a show of encouragement like that, many players do still seem to prefer no acknowledgement at all. Black, if you couldn’t already tell, has a different opinion on that front.

“Things like that, they’re great. The fans are waiting for something to be super excited about, and I think this team has got it. And now to be a part of it and able to interact with it is huge,” Black said.

Interaction with the fans is a big part of how Black sees himself, as a person and a ballplayer. His Twitter presence, like that of many young players these days, is robust. However, in contrast to many of his teammates and peers, he doesn’t just tweet and talk to other ballplayers. He interacts with fans, too.

“I think a lot of times we feel like we’re alienated,” Black said. “Just because we’re on the field, that we’re untouchable types, which is completely untrue. We live the same old lives, we just come out here and this is what we do for our job, per se. But this is what I love, and if I can have people enjoying it along with me, that aren’t out here, then what better way to go through it?”

He sees his interactive nature on Twitter to be part of this engaging of the team’s fans, to “give back to the city,” in his words.


Vic Black signs some autographs


And the city has given him plenty, too. While New York is more crowded than Black’s native Texas, it’s also got a lot to offer on the non-baseball front.

“All the restaurants, all the different shows and things you want to do block by block, as it all changes, are the things that Texas just doesn’t have,” he said.

Living in New York leads to great stories, too…

“Last year, when I got traded, I had a mime sit next to me [on the 7 train] and put me in a box in my seat,” he told me. “There was an older lady across from me just laughing, and she was keeping her head down. But I couldn’t break a smile, because the guy was just miming me in a box while I’m sitting on the train. And he gets up next stop and walks off, and we’re just like ‘Oh my gosh, that really just happened.’”

When interacting with fans – in person and online, at the ballpark and on the train – Black seems to see his role as almost akin to that of a public servant.

“We’re just here playing and trying to give [the fans] the best show we possibly can, it’s for them,” he said.




34 comments
Daniel Diffin
Daniel Diffin

This trade is looking better and better. Black has really helped the bullpen, and Dilson Herrera is working his way up the farm system. It wouldn't surprise me if he gets to AAA by the end of the season--though there is a log-jam at 2nd base. Between him, Matt Reynolds, and Flores, it wouldn't surprise me if the Mets trade Murph for an outfielder this off-seson and let one of the kids take over 2nd base.

Which One's Pink
Which One's Pink

Hopefully he'll continue to Tweet and interact with fans even after he receives his first bunch of threatening messages after blowing a save.  That's why so few of these guys interact with fans.  You wouldn't believe the crap they have to put up with after dropping a ball or walking someone with the bases loaded.  There are professional athletes who have had their kids threatened on Facebook and the like.  I've seen a lot of guys just start the Tweet thing and abruptly drop it.  Lots of disturbed people out there who go waaaaaaaay over the line when it comes to being a fan.

Which One's Pink
Which One's Pink

Black looks like he is loving life and having a blast.  Good for him.  Always wondered why so few professional athletes seems to be having fun.  They are getting big bucks to play a game.  Hope Black is around here a while. Seems to be really putting himself out there with the fans.  He actually tweeted a lot from Vegas too.    

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

Team isn't paying decent money to these guys to be ambassadors but to the degree the guy shows talent, this aspect is nice too. He seems very personable on Twitter too.

Richard Alicea
Richard Alicea

forget about the 7 train...Vic Black and Herrera appear to be exceptional returns for Byrd and Buck.  Buck was released and Byrd, well he's having another outstanding year, but he has very little left in the tank.  This was a win win trade for us.

Nicholas Vargas
Nicholas Vargas

Marlins arguing over that call is a joke, Mathus should have learned his lesson from the Mets game. You can not block the plate until you have the baseball... Lol

hankypanky
hankypanky

Both player and reporter are very professional.

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Im not a New Yorker but I have taken the A  C  E and then the 7 to Mets games for years now. With all the bad rep that New Yorkers have, I can say that I have NEVER had a problem on the subways and anytime I had questions there have always been people there to help. The train ride and subway ride is a fun part of going to and coming home from a Mets game.

dannym28
dannym28

id like to see vic once...but i met tiki barber once as well as president obama so im a happy camper

Ronan Bourke
Ronan Bourke

I met Vinny Rottino a few times on the 7

futuregm
futuregm

My friend and I ran into him on the subway after a game one day. This article is nothing but the truth. We just spoke to him about baseball, then when our stop came we went on our separate ways. One cool dude. 

Flocaveli
Flocaveli

Good job intern, wilpon will offer you 25k a year and justify why you can survive on that

James
James

Nice job on the interview

What a fantastic interview. I could tell from twitter that Vic was a real person and now this just reinforces it.  What a nice guy.

mmmets
mmmets

Great journalism here from Sarah Langs. I hope to see more stories like this.

armymets31
armymets31

I think you guys should do more pieces like this. Hearing these stories just make you root for this team even more. Especially with so many of these players being so young, these types of stories and posts are a great read.


Brandon Austin
Brandon Austin

I never thought I would ever say something like this about the Mets, but I just love when we have a lead going into the 7th inning because I KNOW we are going to win. The bullpen is the source of this teams energy and I just love watching them pitch whether its Black, Mejia, Famillia, Edgin or Torres, all are just so fun to watch.

tullydew
tullydew

I also heard, all of the Front Office take mass transit after their company cars were repossessed this past May. The Wilpons couldn't pay the bills anymore.

Daniel Diffin
Daniel Diffin

@Richard Alicea Alderson has made his share of mistakes, but the return he got for Dickey, Byrd (and Buck), and Beltran was just phenomenal. Syndergaard and Wheeler will probably be mainstays of the rotation for years to come (assuming they aren't dealt this winter), D'Arnaud is finally showing why everyone was so high on him, and Black has become a very big part of the bullpen. And Dilson Herrera looks like he may be a really good player--it's hard to project from AA to MLB, but the kid can obviously hit.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Absolutely. It's one of the absolutely underrated deals that Sandy had made. 6 weeks of Byrd and the husk or Buck for a setup man with electric stuff and a guy that's poising himself as an above average regular at 2b? Sign me up.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

Original content adding some depth to players done in professional way. Nice work.

L.a. Henry
L.a. Henry

@tullydew  You are the kind of "fan" that makes me sick. If you can't see the improvement in this team, than your not watching. You are more interested is bashing the owners than rooting for the team. Go watch the Yankees and tell me how enjoyable that is. It's NOT funny anymore, it's disgusting.

metzfan22
metzfan22

@tullydew This really isn't funny at all. Like really, not even a little bit. Doesn't constantly whining and complaining get old to you, whiner? 

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

@Jake Polom injuries especially to the head is a bigger concern these days .. I don't think this is just a rule because Posey boy here got hurt.

dickeydeep
dickeydeep

@Jake Polom What I don't get is there is already a rule in the books that covers this: Interference.  If a fielder who does not have possession of the ball gets in the way of a runner, the runner is safe.   Simple, clear, easy to rule on.  Why the complicated, confusing rule?

tullydew
tullydew

I will always bash the Wilpons. All "real fans" should. What I find disgusting is how the Wilpons run this franchise and treat the fans. That's what makes me sick.

Jason Krull
Jason Krull

There's been a lot of improvement. 8 years worth.

Jason Krull
Jason Krull

It's funny. Stay off the blog Jeffy.

tullydew
tullydew

As the great Sgt. Hulka once said "Lighten up Francis"

blueorange
blueorange

@Tullydew. I feel sorry for you. Nothing better to do with your time. What a shame or shall I say waste.

Michael Frias
Michael Frias

@tullydew  I've said it a bunch of times on here.  It's just the ease of being a pessimistic fan.  Bash the team every time things don't go well.  Play the "fire everyone if we don't win" card.  And then reap the benefits as a "life long die hard" when the team finally rights the ship and starts winning again.