Weeks after his fiance Jennifer Lopez walked Versace’s runway in a remake of her iconic emerald green dress, Alex Rodriguez strutted down the catwalk Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods’ first show in New York.
After the family-friendly crowd had exited the Caldwell Factory and thinned out into the darkened streets, A-Rod talked with WWD about J.Lo, gun control, free speech, wedding plans and his teenage daughter’s fashion advice. Five years after retiring from a 22-season career in Major League Baseball, the ESPN sports announcer was unabashed about his love of New York City.
WWD: Why did you want to be here tonight?
Alex Rodriguez: First of all, I’ve been a customer for a long time. Being kind of a baseball geek my whole life, any time you can find a place where you can buy balls, gloves and bats and also rock out with some Timberlands [looking down at his lace-up boots] and Nike. I’ve been with Nike for over 20 years. It is a little bit of a dying breed — the fact that Dick’s is winning in a big way, continues to win and integrate.
WWD: Are you supportive of their stance on gun control? (In the past seven years, the company has removed assault rifles from its stores, destroyed $5 million worth of them and raised the age of buying guns at DSG to 21.)
A.R.: I’m aware of what they’ve done. Look, any time someone takes a position where they’re going to take social good over the bottom line, it is a good thing. I’m the father of two beautiful daughters and the stepfather of two beautiful twins. I’m proud of what they’re doing.
WWD: Is the NBA right in speaking out [in support] of China? [Last week Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet sparked a major divide between the NBA and China. It was later deleted and various NBA players and executives backpedaled in defense of China.)
A.R.: I’m so engulfed in baseball right now. If you ask me about sports and baseball, I’m your guy. I haven’t caught up with the NBA lately.
WWD: In more general terms then, is it a good idea that more pro athletes are taking more public stances on political issues?
A.R.: Sure, look we live in the greatest country in the world and people have the opportunity to speak their minds. That’s what makes this country the best.
WWD: You recently bought a second apartment building in New York. How is being a landlord different from sports?
A.R.: Not yet, something like that. It’s very similar to sports. You want to have a great team and you want to take a long-term view. And the greatest city in the world is New York City. If you can have a little pebble in New York City.…For a kid, who never owned anything — my mother had two jobs. She was my role model. The fact that I get to own anything in New York City is a dream.
WWD: How would you describe your style?
A.R.: Questionable [laughs.] Some [days] better than others. Before you walked in here, I had my 14-year-old daughter on FaceTime. She said, “Dad, untuck your shirt. Pull down your socks.” Story of my life — yeah.
WWD: Are there certain designers or brands that you like?
A.R.: I’m less of a designer guy and more of a fit guy. I’m a big guy. I’m 6-3, over 230 lbs. For me, it’s all about fit and comfort. Sometimes, if a brand costs a lot less, but fits better, I’m great with that.
WWD: Where do you stand on sustainability? Did your upbringing make you more conscientious about holding onto things versus buying the next new thing?
A.R.: Some of my very best things I’ve owned for 15 years. Even though some of the Converses that I have have holes in them, I continue to wear them. I used my glove in the big leagues for seven years, my helmet. Things that are great last forever and the longer you own them, the better they are.
WWD: Have you decided when you will get married?
WWD: Have you decided where you will get married?
A.R.: Not yet, no.
WWD: What have you learned from Jennifer about business?
A.R.: What I have learned from her is again, here is someone who comes from very humble beginnings, right here in the Bronx. And she has truly lived the American dream. She has an incredible arc in her life through ups and downs. Right now, even though she is a triple threat in the world with her talent, what I know her for is being a good partner, mother and daughter.
WWD: What would people be surprised to learn about her?
A.R.: She’s just a Bronx girl. She just loves being home.