Recently White Sox Gab sat down with the author of the new book – “Ozzie’s School of Management” – that being Rick Morrissey. We asked Rick some questions about the book concerning the former White Sox manager – and below is that interview.
1. What was the most surprising thing you learned about Ozzie writing this book?
That he thinks he’s shy. When he told me this, I said, “You’re out of your mind.” He said that he’s much more comfortable with people he knows, and that he understands that if it’s something tied to the White Sox, he has an obligation to be social with fans. But he says when he walks his dog in his neighborhood, he keeps his head down. Whenever you see him away from the ballpark, he’s with at least one of his sons. They’re his security blanket. All that said, I wouldn’t begin to describe him as shy.
2. Ozzie’s never been one to hold much back, were you surprised at any point of his willingness to allow you to write certain things about him or his coaching style?
I really wasn’t surprised. I knew going in that the words “no comment” were foreign to him. I had never heard him refuse to answer a question in the years he was managing in Chicago. I knew that the challenge was going to be the sheer volume of quotes and deciding what I wanted to use and what I didn’t. The first first weeks, I sat there with all this material asking myself, “How am I going to structure all of this?” Finally, I just decided to start writing, which isn’t unlike what he does with talking. He just starts and many times it goes in directions you never saw coming. Now, there were times when I felt he wasn’t being as forthcoming on some answers as I thought he might be. But those were few and far between. Several times during the course of writing the book, I asked him if I was wearing him out with my questions. He said no and that he’d tell me when I was. He never did. You can’t beat that if you’re a writer.
3. When did you come up with the idea for a book? What was Ozzie’s response when you told him you wanted to write it?
I have a literary agent (David Black), and we were bouncing around some book ideas. He had rejected one of mine, saying he didn’t think people would be interested in the subject matter. Then he said, “What about Ozzie Guillen?” As a columnist for the Sun-Times, I had written about him often, but it’s easy to lose perspective. He was a big personality, obviously, but was there a national audience for a book on him? Yes. If you say the name “Ozzie,” you either think of Guillen or Ozzy Osborne (some people say they could be the same person), and everyone knows why you’re talking about.
I went to spring training in Arizona before the 2011 season, told him I wanted to do a book on how he goes about his job. He said OK. It was that easy. No strings attached. No “what do I get out of it” from Ozzie.
4. Do you think Ozzie does some of the antics he does to simply put the attention on himself and take pressure off his team?
Yes. I’m sure he believes he doesn’t, but he does. Most of his bigger outbursts have come when the team or a key player was doing poorly. The better question might be whether he just likes attention and would be this way if he were a stock broker or a bus driver. I’d have to say yes. But when he gets home from his job, he’s a different guy — quieter, more interested in news than sports and at ease making dinner for his family.
5. What do you think was the final straw in his relationship with the Sox? Were you surprised it ended as it did?
To me the final straw arrived when there was friction between Williams and Guillen’s kids. Ozzie comes from a broken home and the most important thing to him is his three boys. Two years ago, GM Kenny Williams did not draft the youngest Guillen, Ozney, as high as the family thought he should be drafted. Last year, the White Sox didn’t draft him at all. The back story is that Williams drafted his own kid in the third round several years back. Ozzie was furious. Also, his middle son, Oney, had hotten fired for tweeting about Sox players — while working for the organization. He also ripped Williams’ downtown Chicago restaurant on Twitter.
So, no, I wasn’t surprised it ended the way it did.
6. Favorite thing about Ozzie that you saw in working with him that fans don’t usually see.
He’s excellent with young players. Lots of people think he’s gruff and borderline crazy from his rants, but he’s not that way most of the time. He picks out a few young players every year and takes them on as projects, teaching them how to be big-league players. He wants them to know he believes in them, no matter how badly they might mess up. As long as they’re hustling, he won’t give up on them. If he believes in them, maybe they’ll start believing in themselves.
Thanks to Rick for answering our questions, and Stay Tuned, as we will be giving away copies of the Book from Rick Morrissey – “Ozzie’s School of Management”!!!