The Kansas City Royals caught Terrance Gore by surprise the day they drafted him in June 2011. Listed at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Gore figured he would become a teacher at the time he got a phone call from scout Colin Gonzales saying the Royals had picked him in the 20th round. It's been an unconventional journey to the majors ever since for Gore, reputed to be the fastest player in the league, who mostly serves as Kansas City's pinch runner.
Pegged as a latter-day Herb Washington — a sprinter Charlie Finley hired off the street for the Oakland Athletics 40 years ago — Gore has stolen eight bases without being caught in the majors, and his legs have helped the Royals win in other ways too. Gore has only two plate appearances in the majors but it's possible he could score one or more of the key runs in the World Series.
Not long before the World Series started, Gore slowed down for a moment for a quick Answer Man session to discuss his whirlwind rookie season.
David Brown: Does wearing No. 0 signify that it takes no time at all for you to get from Point A to Point B?
Terrance Gore: Ha! They told me I was going to be No. 0. I thought it was going to be a joke at first, so I was, like, 'Ha-ha-ha.' I've never seen someone with No. 0. Then I got here and I was zero and was, like, 'they're not kidding.' I was not even mad at all; I was glad to have a jersey.
DB: What was the arrangement they had with you at Triple-A? You played only when?
Gore: At Triple-A, I only played on Sundays, which as a travel day is the worst day to play on. I was glad to just play, honestly. I focused on baserunning. They said I'd give the guys a day off on travel days. I was like, 'All right, cool.'
It's a lot easier now because they have film on the pitchers. In the minor leagues, it's all crazy. Here, (coach Rusty Kunz) has got every pitcher down pat.
DB: How fast is your 40-yard-dash time?
Gore: If I ran a 40 right now, it would be a low 4.3. Maybe a high 4.2. I've never ran a 6.4.
DB: Do you think you could beat Usain Bolt around the bases?
Gore: Yeah, I could beat him around the bases by far. Because he's never run the bases in his life. If we ran the 100 meters, he'd probably smoke me, because he's been doing that for the longest time. So, just taking into account his background, but I'm pretty sure I could take him.
DB: If I have the order correct, in 2011, you were drafted on June 7, your birthday was June 8, and you signed June 10. What were those four days like?
Gore: They were crazy. A blessing. Honestly when I went to college, I wasn't even planning on getting drafted at all. Colin Gonzales called me and said, "The Royals took you in the 20th round," and that his dad (Kenny Gonzales) drafted Bo Jackson 25 years ago." Pretty crazy. They called and said, "We really want you. "I was like. "Are you serious?" I hadn't even been looking at my phone that day. I wasn't checking the computer to see how the draft was going. I think I was going to Food Lion to get some groceries. And I got a phone call and was thinking, "Who is this?" He told me I was drafted, and I was just shocked. And then two minutes later, I got call after call after call from people congratulating me. I was just glad the Royals were giving me an opportunity to play baseball.
DB: What were you going to do with your life, if you weren't thinking about baseball?
Gore: I was considering being a physical education teacher. That's what my major was.
DB: Are you a small-town guy?
Gore: I'm from Macon (Ga.) which is a little bigger but I went to school at a place called Gray, which is getting bigger. It's a baseball town by far. Rondell White came through there. And Willie Greene. Rico Washington came through there, too. I talk to Rondell from time to time. He's in Jacksonville, Fla. but we keep in touch.
DB: You're a right-handed batter; did the Royals ever try to make you a switch-hitter so you could take advantage of the left-handed batter's box?
Gore: They tried, but I was probably 21 and it was probably too late. My high school coach was, like, "Look, try switch-hitting." But it didn't work out. But I'm just as fast from the right side anyway.
DB: If MLB added a skills competition to the All-Star game next year, what if we put you up against Billy Hamilton in a fastest-around-the-bases competition?
Gore: We're both pretty fast. Honestly, I couldn't tell you. I'm very confident in what I do, as he is. We'd have to actually race and see what happens. I'm not going to sit here and say, "He's faster than me," or "I'm faster than him."
DB: You're a confident person, but your ego doesn't seem too huge.
Gore: Nah, I'm not that guy. I don't like to talk bad about anybody. Hamilton's fast; he's stolen a lot of bases. He's a great ballplayer. It'd be fun to watch.
DB: You've said you can dunk a woman's basketball — what would be your per-game averages in the WNBA?
Gore: Haha. Oh, man. Average? I'd probably average about eight points. I could get eight, do some breakaways and stuff like that. I don't know if I want to be a pioneer and try to play in the WNBA, though. It's probably too silly to consider.
DB: Do you like Derrick Rose and the Bulls in the East instead of LeBron and the Cavs?
Gore: Probably LeBron.
DB: It's just going to magically happen for them?
Gore: Hey. LeBron is the man. He's the best. I got a lot of confidence in him. I'm pretty sure he's going to go deep into the playoffs.
DB: Ever see those videos of Joey Gathright jumping over a car?
Gore: I have
DB: Can you jump over cars?
Gore: I did it in high school! I jumped over an S-10 truck. I had the video and I lost it. I got so mad. I barely cleared it, I'm not even kidding. I cleared the whole bed. I was close to hitting the corner of it, but I cleared it. I don't know why I did that. I was crazy in high school. Thought it was cool.
DB: A dare?
Gore: I don't think nobody dared me. I was just like, "See that truck over there? I'm going to jump across it." I think I just got done lifting weights and I was feeling myself a little bit. It was definitely fun, though.
DB: If I replaced my Haribo Gummi Bears with your Skittles, would that be OK?
Gore: [Death stare.] Mmm-mmm. I'm a Skittles guy. You can ask anybody who really knows me, they'd be like, "The dude loves his Skittles." You'll always see me with Skittles. Any kind of candy... I'll have Reese's cups, but I'll always have Skittles. I literally eat them all of the time. I'll eat them at halftime in football.
DB: Energy boost?
Gore: I don't know what it is, my body just loves Skittles.
DB: Do you enjoy watching other people run fast? Do you watch sprinters in the Olympics? Does watching people run fast interest you at all?
Gore: It does. It's really amazing how fast people can actually go. Some people will watch the Olympics and say to me, "Dude, you can do that." I'm like, "I don't know." I'm fast, but I don't think I'm blazing fast. They're trained to do that, it's a whole different world. It'd be fun to run with a couple of them, to see how far I can keep up with them.
DB: In your professional career you are 176 for 193 stealing bases. How surprised are you when you're caught? You feel like Superman forgot how to take off?
Gore: I think the fans and everybody would be more disappointed than I am. I'm human. I'm going to get thrown out! It's baseball.
DB: When you do get out, it seems like it's from pick-offs.
Gore: Yeah, I just get too cocky out there. Some of the times, it's like pitch outs, and I've made 'em pitch out a lot, and I just go anyway to be cocky with it. Definitely I'm more cautious up here on the big-league level. I still challenge myself.
- - - - - - -
Previous Answer Men (and Woman)
2008-2013: Erin Andrews • Jason Bay • Billy Beane • Heath Bell • Brandon Belt • Stephen Bishop • Bert Blyleven • Aaron Boone • Larry Bowa • Milton Bradley • Craig Breslow • Jay Bruce • Gary Carter • Joba Chamberlain • Nelson Cruz • Ryan Dempster • Bucky Dent • Mark DeRosa
Terry Francona • Nomar Garciaparra • Tom Glavine • Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez • Gio Gonzalez • Dwight Gooden • Goose Gossage • Zack Greinke • Cole Hamels • Josh Hamilton • Felix Hernandez • Orel Hershiser • Torii Hunter • Edwin Jackson • Derek Jeter • Paul Konerko
Sam LeCure • Tim Lincecum • Evan Longoria • Fred Lynn • Joe Maddon • Charlie Manuel • Pedro Martinez • Joe Mauer • Brandon McCarthy • Andrew McCutchen • Nyjer Morgan • Justin Morneau • Logan Morrison • Mike Mussina • Joe Nathan
Carlos Pena • Hunter Pence • Glen Perkins • Josh Reddick • Will Rhymes •Dave Righetti • Cal Ripken • Francisco Rodriguez • Pete Rose • CC Sabathia • Ron Santo • Luke Scott • Vin Scully • Joakim Soria • Denard Span • Matt Stairs • Huston Street • Mike Trout • Troy Tulowitzki
More MLB coverage at Yahoo Sports:
- - - - - - -