Adam Hyzdu sounds like he's having a blast in his post-baseball life, even if he's doing something he never imagined he'd be doing.
"No kid has ever grown up saying, 'I dream about selling motor homes for a living,' but that's where I am, and it's been a fruitful experience," Hyzdu said.
Curve fans frequently ask what Hyzdu is up to, and I caught up with him Friday to find out. It's always neat talking to him and reminiscing about his legendary career in Altoona, which made him more closely linked to a minor league town than just about anyone who's ever played the game.
Mirror file photo
Adam Hyzdu was the Eastern League MVP in 2000.
Hyzdu, now 40, and his family live in Mesa, Ariz., and he said a few years back he gave his father-in-law some money to get into the RV business. When his father-in-law died in 2010, Hyzdu took over the business, Auto Corral RV in Mesa.
"I'm able to provide for the family and stay at home," he said. "I go to all [my kids'] games, go to practices and enjoy the process of raising children."
It's impossible to talk about the history of the Curve without one of the first conversations being about Hyzdu. His story has been well-chronicled over the years, and 12 years after last playing in Altoona, he still gets goosebumps thinking back to that amazing night of Sept. 4, 2000 when the franchise retired his No. 16 jersey.
Adam Hyzdu's 2000 season remains the greatest in Curve history. He set franchise records that still stand for homers (31), RBIs (106), runs (96), walks (94) and games (142), plus he committed only one error all season while playing in every game.
Hyzdu became the only Curve player to be selected Eastern League MVP. His 55 homers in two seasons are tied for most in franchise history (with Josh Bonifay, who needed three seasons to reach that number).
Hyzdu stood on the field, holding his little girl, Alexa, with his framed jersey nearby and fireworks going off in the night sky. Some people wondered then - and maybe some still wonder - why a franchise would retire someone's number after only two years.
There's no question the Curve made the right decision, and anyone who disagrees simply doesn't understand what Hyzdu meant to the franchise and the town.
"It's just very exciting to have the opportunity to have at least one town appreciate what you've done and to be cherished," Hyzdu said. "It was very, very memorable and exciting."
Hyzdu enjoyed a very rare experience for a minor leaguer during his Curve tenure. Most guys who have ever played on the team could go anywhere in town and not really be recognized, but that was never the case for Hyzdu.
"Typically it's so transient in the minor leagues," he said. "The towns barely get to know the players, and then they move on. So especially in 2000, it was pretty much anywhere - you go to a sandwich shop or go to Walmart and you're talking to the pharmacist, who comes out from the counter and wants to tell you, 'Hey, sign a ball for my kid, thanks a lot.'
"It was just very unique and a great experience and very cherished."
Hyzdu last played in the majors in 2006 with Texas and spent the final season of his career in Japan in 2007. He finished with 299 home runs - 19 in the major leagues, seven in Japan, 273 in the minors - was Eastern League MVP in 2000 and earned a National League Player of the Week award in 2002 while with the Pirates.
None of those count as his favorite memory.
"Hands down it has to be the World Series in Boston [in 2004]," he said.
"I wasn't on the roster," he added, "but I was [with the team] for the playoffs. The Yankee thing was amazing, I mean, truly amazing [coming back from down 3-0 in the ALCS]. And then to go to the World Series and win it and be a part of the parade, it was just incredible."
Hyzdu has spent the past few years helping coach his son Zack, now 18, and he has resisted getting involved in any men's baseball leagues near his hometown. He still has his sly sense of humor, which he displayed talking about the first time he tried to play in a church softball league.
"I've got to tell you, I was 0 for my first 3," he said, noting he hooked the first two to the third baseman and the third to the left fielder.
"Now, talk about another piece of humble pie. One of these 17-year-old kids on my team who could not catch a ball said, 'Hey, I thought you played professional baseball?' Uh, thank you."
Hyzdu eventually got the softball swing down, which to him meant that he was officially finished with baseball. However, he said he finally does plan to try out one of his local men's baseball leagues.
"It was time," he said. "I want that competitive outlet."
Hyzdu hasn't kept in contact with many people in Altoona over the years, but he remains grateful for everything that happened to him during his Curve days.
It's still a little strange to be referenced as a Curve legend, he noted, and he remains very humble about all the success he enjoyed here. Time has helped him be able to look back on everything in a different light.
"My perspective has gotten a whole lot better," he said. "I have an 18-year-old son who wants to play baseball, and just to see the amount of kids who play and how few get to play in college, how few get to play in pro ball and even make it to the Double-A level - it's just a minuscule amount of kids even make it to Double-A, much less the big leagues.
"It's a perspective that's really helped me appreciate some of the successes that I had."
Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. Reach him at 949-7031 or @CoryGiger on Twitter.