. He was highly impressed, but was concerned about his lack of height—only 5-feet-4 inches, at the time.
- Rollins was first noticed by Phillies area scout Bob Poole back in 1993, Jimmy's freshman year of high school
Poole watched Jimmy dominate games with his glove, arm, legs and bat as a junior and senior. Rollins had grown to almost 5-foot-6, but Poole put in his reports that Rollins was 5-foot-9, knowing he'd never get a Phillies cross-checker out to see Jimmy play. Finally, when he got the big-shot scout to watch Rollins, Jimmy was so highly impressive that size didn't matter.Rollins learned his baseball by watching his mother, Gigi, play competitive fast-pitch softball in the Oakland area.
"They knew the game and talked strategy," Jimmy recalled. "I was 7 years old, and I wanted to interject. They didn't want to hear from me, though. So I just listened and learned."
His father, Jimmy Rollins Sr., is a former doo-wop singer who steered his sons toward music (Jimmy Jr. played the trumpet) and sports.
His Dad also is a former weightlifter who still holds a California dead-lift record: 683 pounds.
. At Encinal High School in Alameda—where his parents emphatically did not allow Rollins to continue his Pop Warner passion for football—the little shortstop would end up setting nearly a dozen school records, including overall batting average (.484) and steals (99).According to former Marlins, A's and Tigers pitcher Dontrelle Willis, there was one high school superstar when he was a kid in Alameda, California: Jimmy Rollins. Back then the Phillies shortstop could do it all.
- Despite his small stature, his ability to play baseball was apparent
"I used to run behind him," said Willis, who is three years younger than Rollins. In addition to being a standout in the field, Rollins also was Encinal High School's toughest pitcher. If a strikeout was needed, Rollins would take the mound, "And he threw it by everybody," Willis said. Rollins was a high-profile high school player in the prospect-rich Bay Area.
"He had to catch your eye. He could do a lot of things," said Bob Poole, who was the Bay Area scout for the Phillies at the time, and first saw Rollins when he was just a high school sophomore. Poole wrote effusive reports, but was careful not to emphasize the prospect's height and weight, feeling that Rollins needed to be seen to be evaluated, and fearing that the organization might balk at his lack of size.
The Phillies sent a crosschecking scout to follow up on the reports and the club gradually became intrigued with the little shortstop.
Rollins is nicknamed "J-Roll" or "J-Smooth," and it rather describes his excellent glove-work on defense.
IDOLIZED RICKEY Rollins has a lot of the mannerisms of his childhood hero, Rickey Henderson. Jimmy says he likes "taking the walking lead, fake-breaking for second—anything to bother the pitcher, mess him up, get his attention off the hitter."When Rollins takes a pitch, he wiggles his hips—just like Rickey.Rollins was really excited to be on the field for the Phillies when Henderson, closing out his career with the Padres, broke Babe Ruth's record for bases on balls April 25, 2001.
Jimmy had missed the May 1, 1991 game in which Rickey broke Lou Brock's stolen base record in a game against the Yankees. His mother, Gigi, would not allow the 12-year-old to go to the game.
"I had to watch it from my house on TV," Rollins said, in a voice that mimicked a deprived child's. Jimmy says he has incorportated some of the things his hero did into his game. "Coming up as a kid, my whole game was styled after him. Whenever he played, he always acted as if it was his game, and that's the way I feel."For years, Rollins spent his time working with kids in the Alameda, California area during the off-season. "I hit them ground balls, throw BP to them and just talk to them about all the things I've learned along the way," Jimmy said. But then he moved to New Jersey in 2004.Jimmy was awarded the 1997 Paul Owens Award for being the top player in the Phillies minor league system. (He actually shared the '97 award with OF Jeff Key). Rollins was fourth in the South Atlantic League in hits, and fifth in runs.Jimmy is the cousin of former Major League outfielder Tony Tarasco.
Rollins admits he is rarely at a loss for words. "I like to talk, but I like to play baseball more," he says.
INTANGIBLESHe has leadership qualities, and he has an energy and enthusiasm for the game that is contagious.His drive and intensity are intact. He is a live-wire player. He has had to prove himself all the way to the majors because of his slight stature, so he has that aggressive, cocky, "What do you mean I'm too small?" chip on his shoulder that helped him get to the top.Rollins is one Phillie who embodies manager Larry Bowa's rip-out-their-heart-and-stomp-on-it style. Seeing himself in Rollins, Bowa is quick with his praise: "He's my favorite player because of the way he approaches the game, like, 'It's my game, and I appreciate what I'm doing.'"Rollins adds a certain swagger to the team that transcends to the field, too. His aggressive approach is a bit contagious.He wears his stockings high up on the calf—Negro League-style.In 2001, Jimmy made the NL All Star team—his rookie year.When he was growing up, Jimmy's father, James, would take his son to A's games and say, "Watch!" Rollins recalled, "It was like class, but I'd learn. He'd ask me after the game, 'Did you see such-and-such?' If I said I hadn't, he'd go, 'Then you weren't watchin' the game!'"
ATHLETIC FAMILYHis Dad had been a wrestler and weightlifter, but hadn't played much baseball.Jimmy's mother, Gigi (real name Gyvonnie), was a fast-pitch softball player in church and corporate leagues. She was speedy, displayed soft hands as a middle infielder and was watched closely by her son. Jimmy attended almost every game she ever played. Her got his love for the game from her.
"To this day, she says she's still better than me in baseball," Rollins said just days before leaving to play in the 2002 All Star Game in Milwaukee.In 2005, Jimmy's sister, Shay Rollins accepted a scholarship to play basketball at the University of San Francisco.
Rollins was about the same size as the rest of the kids until his teenage years. He had long arms and long legs, so people assumed he would grow at least to his father's height. James Rollins is about 6-1, as is Antwon Rollins, Jimmy's younger brother and, until recently, an outfielder in the Texas Rangers organization.
But genetic fate had something else in store for Rollins, who ended up being built compactly like his mother. "Those long legs kept on shrinking," Rollins said with a laugh. "I was short and skinny, but when I picked up a ball and a bat, there was nothing people could say. After that, they didn't care. They'd just say, 'He can play.'"In 2004 spring training, Rollins stood out because he used a white fielder's glove. Supplied by Nike, he was certain he couldn't use it during the season, so he used it in training camp. "If I can't get a gold one, at least I can have this," he quipped.Jimmy has a home in tiny Swedesboro, New Jersey. The little town was founded by Swedish immigrants in 1634. He also has another home in Florida.Starting in 2006 spring training, Rollins got around in a Mercedes CLS 55 Carlsson, the only one of its kind in North America. Nice ride for a single guy.Jimmy talks the way he plays: fast and direct, smart and crisp. He makes people laugh when he speaks. And he makes them think. He is confident without being annoying, smart without showing it off, and inquisitive, always listening and learning.Rollins would rather stay home than go out on the town. He is mesmerized by Forensic Files and Cold Case. The shows share a narrative arc. The cases always turn on an obvious clue that was inexplicably overlooked during the initial investigation. Jimmy studies baseball the way those medical examiners study corpses, and he has stumbled on a connection: sometimes the most obvious thing about the game is the furthest thing from anybody's mind.
(Tim Keown-ESPN the Magazine-2/27/06)Rollins doesn't have any superstitions. "I use my batting gloves 'till they wear out. I broke four or five bats during the (36-game hitting) streak (at the end of the 2005 season), and I didn't cry over any of them," Jimmy said.
Jimmy's hitting streak ended at 38-games, an incredible feat, nonetheless.During the winter before 2007 spring training began, Rollins said, "I started my own music company called Rollins Entertainment. I am the CEO and also serve as executive producer on several current projects. I'm working with an R&B act called Sergio, a rock band called The Leage, and will also be working with another R&B act down the road."In 2007, Rollins started all 162 games for the Phillies. So he joined Bill Russell and Leo Cardenas as the only other NL shortstops to accomplish the feat. Russell did it for the Dodgers in 1973, while Cardenas achieved the mark for the Reds in 1964.
In addition, Rollins joined Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur as the only NL players to start all 162 games in 2007.
In 2007, Rollins was named the National League MVP in a close win over Matt Holliday of the Rockies.
Rollins was avoiding the disabled list early in 2008. He was trying everything, including borrowing an idea from former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. Always hip to new thoughts, Rollins ordered a hyperbaric chamber and it arrived on April 2, 2008. He spends as much time in there as he can.
"It helps me recharge," Rollins said (according to MLB journalist Ken Mandel). "Ken Griffey Jr. used it when he started tearing his hamstring all the time, so I was like, 'I'm not getting in that thing.' I'm not claustrophobic, but I was looking at it like, '[no thanks].' Once you get in, you realize there's a lot more room. J-Dubb [Jayson Werth] has one too. A lot of football players have them, but it's still kind of new to baseball. But I like being on the edge."
"It takes what's in the room, compresses it, and your body feeds off it," Rollins said. "You just sit in there and chill. The pressure in there is like being under nine feet of water, so I guess I can go scuba diving now. You feel a lot better and you're able to sustain your energy level. That's why I'm dragging today. I haven't got in it yet."
Bats manufactured by MaxBat specifically for the National League MVP, honored the true Most Valuable Person in the Rollins family, Gigi Rollins. On the barrel, in capital bold letters, it reads: Gigi Rollins, Happy Mother's Day 2008.
"I'm using Gigi, so hopefully she can transfer some hits," Rollins said before the game. Rollins presented the bat to his mother after the game.
He didn't tell his mother about the bats before Sunday, because of her expected reaction.
"I know she'll say, 'You better get some hits using my bat. That will put more pressure on me," Rollins said, though he said a good day would have him asking for a permanent "GG" model bat.
Jimmy knows music. And in May 2008, he changed his at-bat intro theme. If it sounds like the tune from a popular Geico commercial, that's because it is. Rollins swapped Rocko's "Umma Do Me" for Royksopp's "Remind Me."
Is it because he likes the song or the commercial?
"Both," Rollins joked.
On June 5, 2008, manager Charlie Manuel benched Rollins in the middle of a game for failing to run out a fly ball.
On July 24, 2008, Jimmy was kept out of the starting lineup by Manuel because he showed up to the park late. Rollins has always been known for cutting it close.
Rollins said he had left the team hotel in Manhattan about 10 minutes after the team bus left for Shea Stadium, which is in Queens. The bus arrived after 10:30 a.m., and Rollins arrived around 11:00 for the 12:10 p.m. game.
Both the bus and Rollins hit traffic en route to Shea. Traffic or not, a team rule had been broken. Players are expected to arrive at the ballpark no later than the last team bus.
August 13, 2008: Rollins and teammate Ryan Howard appeared on a Wednesday edition of "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," with host Chris Rose and co-host John Salley. Taped in Los Angeles, Rollins was asked if Philadelphia warrants its reputation as a tough sports town.
"It can be, yeah," Rollins said. "There are times, like, it's one of those cities ... I might catch some flack for saying this, but, you know, they're front-runners. When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you."
A clip of Rollins' appearance was shown on Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia. Radio talk shows fielded calls from fans offended by the comments, which are similar to previous comments made by Rollins and other athletes about the city's passionate fans.
In 2009, he started the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation, which helps those with juvenile arthritis, among other causes.
Rollins went to Uganda with an American contingent on a good will mission after seeing a documentary clip on ESPN about baseball there.
In January 2010, Jimmy and longtime girlfriend Johari Smith were married. They met when she was in intern with the Phillies.
September 6, 2010: Jimmy achieved career hit number 1,706. That single elevated him to sole possession of sixth place all-time in Phillies history ahead of Chuck Klein.
May 21, 2012: Rollins was placed on paternity leave list after his wife, Johari, gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Camryn Drew Rollins.
"It was pretty amazing," Jimmy says of being their for his daughter's birth. "Catching the baby, cutting the cord, handing her to Johari—best relay I ever made."
June 21, 2012: Rollins visited the White House to introduce a public service announcement concearning violence against women. Included in the announcment are President Obama, Biden Rollins, Evan Longoria, Joe Torre, basketball's Jeremy Lin, soccer's David Beckham, football's Eli Manning, and ESPN's Andy Katz delivering a message that violence against women is unacceptable.
J-Roll never tires of signing his autograph, which is a thing of beauty, a legible flow ending in a circle with an 11 in the center. And he always puts the cap back on the pen.
In 2009, Rollins hit .417 in the Classic and was the only United States player named to the All-Tournament team.
It might have been worth it for J-Roll to participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic just for the red, white and blue patent-leather Air Jordan XII cleats that Nike custom-made for the shortstop.
Jimmy he has been described as having "a near-photographic memory of games and at-bats and pitches".
March 31, 2014: Jimmy Rollins made a record-setting 14th consecutive Opening Day start at shortstop for the Phillies.
Rollins set a National League record for shortstops with 14 consecutive Opening Day starts for the same franchise. Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion held the previous mark with 13. Rollins also tied Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr. for the big league record. Ripken started 14 straight from 1983-96.
April 2, 2014: J-Roll went home to Philly to be with his wife for the birth of his second daughter, Logan Aliya.
Rollins played the trumpet while growing up, and participated in various MC Hammer and Mavis Staples music videos during his adolescent years.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Rollins#cite_note-espn_profile-5"">
TRANSACTIONSJune 1996: The Phillies drafted him in the second round, out of high school in California, keeping him from accepting a scholarship to Arizona State.
. The pact includes a $5 million signing bonus.
- June 13, 2005: Rollins signed a $40 million, five-year contract extension with the Phillies
Philadelphia holds a club option for 2011 at $8.5 million with a $2 million buyout. If the Phillies exercise the option, the total value of the contract would increase to $47.5 million. (And the Phillies did exercise that option a year ahead of time, notifying J-Roll in 2009 that they were picking up the $8.5 million.)December 17, 2011: Rollins signed with the Phillies—a three-year, $33 million contract. The pact also contains a vesting option for a fourth year worth $11 million.
- Jimmy has a good batting eye. He gets the bat knocked out of his hands at times, but really, he has surprising pop for his size. He has power from gap-to-gap. Switch-hitting helps, as does his intelligence.
- Rollins says, "I've just got to work on getting more base hits here and there and try to keep the ball from getting in the air as much."
He is working on hitting down on the ball to induce more ground balls. His bat control is very good. He plays the little man's game, keeping the ball out of the air. He walks as much (or more) than he strikes out.
Sometimes Jimmy will chase a pitch early in the count, but only when he allows himself to get anxious.
Rollins almost never hits into a double play.Rollins is one of the players that looks a lot better in person than on paper.He is adept at bunting, and he hits equally well from both sides of the plate.
HELP FROM GWYNN AND SCHMIDTDuring the off-season before 2003 spring training, Rollins participated in a one-week seminar on hitting conducted by Tony Gwynn, the former San Diego Padres hitting machine. Every day for a week, Jimmy rolled out of his hotel bed and drove down the highway to hook up with Gwynn at his house or on a nearby field. They would talk hitting, watch videos of hitting, talk hitting some more, and then go hit.
"It was both mental and physical," Rollins said. "Tony's really big on the mental part of baseball and he has strong points. With confidence, you can do just about anything. If you have confidence, you're going to practice, you're going to take extra hitting, and you're going to get better."
Gwynn made a bigger impression on Rollins before 2004 spring training, spending two weeks with Jimmy. When they hooked up at the beginning of the two weeks, Gwynn greeted Rollins with, "I've got a bone to pick with you."
Gwynn harangued Rollins about hacking at high pitches. Speedsters Pierre, Castillo, and fellow Gwynn pupil Jacque Jones ranked 1-2-3 among Major Leaguers in ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, while Rollins finished a dismal 89th. Rollins defended himself, saying that when umpires starting calling higher strikes as the season progressed, Rollins thought he had to swing.
"It's fine, if that's the case," Gwynn said. "But don't try to get on top of the high pitch by pulling it. Get on top by going the other way."
(Marcus Hayes, Philadelphia Inquirer-01/16/04)
- Rollins also credits a conversation he had with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who spent time with the Phillies as a special hitting instructor in 2003. "Mike Schmidt told me about Pete Rose, and how I have to be that little pest who the pitcher says, 'Oh no, not him again.' That hasn't always been my approach, but I have to take it and stick with that disciplined approach."
- Rollins and Tony Gwynn worked on both the physical and mental aspects of hitting. Improved selectivity would improve Jimmy's on-base percentage. And Rollins said he is finally seeing the profit in hitting the ball on the ground.
Late in the 2003 season, when the Phillies and Marlins were fighting for a playoff spot, Rollins sensed that Florida catcher Pudge Rodriguez was trying to exploit his lack of plate discipline by calling change-ups and curveballs in counts when Rollins ordinarily saw fastballs. "Everything made sense when I realized what he was trying to do to me," Rollins said.
During 2004 spring training in Clearwater, Florida, Rollins worked with Phillies coach Milt Thompson on bunting more effectively. "What it's doing is drawing the infield in," Thompson said. "He's now able to get balls by the infielders."In 2004, Jimmy moved closer to the plate so he could reach pitches just outside the strike zone. He also crouches more, with a goal that he won't swing at high pitches that cause him to fly out to right field.In 2005, Jimmy's pitch selection was not as good as it had been in 2004. While he'll never be a 100-walk guy in the style of his idol, Rickey Henderson, Rollins made major strides in 2004 in working counts and getting pitches to hit.
During the 2005 season, he got ahead too often in counts and came up empty. A little extra discipline can go a long way, though there's a fine line between that and losing aggressiveness.
"With the bases loaded, I want him to get a good ball to hit and drive the ball," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "At the same time, you have to be disciplined enough to know your strike zone. I think everybody gets away from it when their adrenaline's going and they get anxious to hit."
Also, scouts say Rollins stood too close to the plate, couldn't hit the ball the other way, and hit too many fly ball outs.
In 2007, Rollins broke Willie Wilson's Major League single-season record for most at-bats in a season, with 716. Wilson had 705 at-bats for the Royals in 1980. And Rollins became only the fourth Major Leaguer with more than 700 at-bats in a season, joining Wilson, Ichiro Suzuki, and Juan Samuel.
That year, Jimmy also set a National League record for most extra-base hits in a season by a shortstop with 87. (A-Rod holds the Major League mark of 91, in 1996.)
In 2008 spring training, MAXbat, the company that makes bats for Rollins, presented him with an 85-inch, 45-pound replica bat for winning the National League Most Valuable Player award.
"Can you imagine going to the plate with this?" Rollins joked. "It's like holding an anaconda."
Rollins' game bats are 33 inches, 31 ounces, just a tad smaller than the trophy bat. Rollins' bats are made of hard maple; the replica is made of soft maple. (Todd Zolecki-Philadelphia Inquirer-2/23/08)
By 2010, J-Roll was taking hacks like Dave Kingman from both sides of the plate. The worst thing Jimmy ever did was hit 30 home runs (thanks to that bandbox of a ballpark), because now he thinks that's what he's capable of doing.
The 2012 season was Rollins' sixth 100-run season. Only three players in Phillies history have had more: Ed Delahanty and Sam Thompson (eight) and Mike Schmidt (seven). Billy Hamilton and Bobby Abreu also had six 100-run seasons for the Phillies.
Only 10 active players have had six or more 100-run seasons: Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (13); Albert Pujols (10); Chipper Jones, Ichiro Suzuki, Jim Thome and Abreu (eight); Carlos Beltran (seven); Todd Helton and Miguel Cabrera (six).
Entering the 2014 season, Rollins' career numbers with the Phillies were very impressive: He is among franchise leaders in doubles (457); hits (2,175), runs (1,247) and stolen bases (425); games (1,952); in homers (199) and in RBIs (832).