Life after the big leagues may be a difficult transition for some pros, but former MLB relief pitcher Chris Resop knocks it out of the park with a thriving real estate business and charity work.
It’s logical to assume that when you interview a professional athlete, his chosen sport just might be a major topic of discussion. But what happens when that athlete retires, moving into his next phase of life and possible second career? Where does all that competitive fire go — does he remain active in the sport as a commentator or analyst, or play charity events? Or, does he return to a lifelong passion, now fully able to devote himself to a field that has nothing to do with, well, a field, court, or arena?
The answers to these questions can vary widely, depending on the individual — what inspires him off the field, what kind of family life he leads, and what led him to retire in the first place.
When it comes to former MLB relief pitcher Chris Resop, whose 14-year professional baseball career included time with the Marlins, Braves, Pirates, Angels, A’s, and Red Sox, what may surprise you the most isn’t his post-retirement career choice, but rather his love of charity work and giving back to the community. Perhaps it wouldn’t surprise you as much if you knew that the “Roberto Clemente Award” Resop won in 2012 (while still playing professionally) for his charity involvement with The Pediatric Cancer Foundation is something he still considers his greatest career accomplishment.
These days, Resop is still competitively pitching — albeit in a completely different way — as a real estate agent for Premier Sotheby’s International Realty right here in Naples, securing the best homes for his clients in a booming Southwest Florida market. His love of his hometown, his family, and his community are what ground him here the most, helping him keep his eye on the ball in all aspects of this newfound life after the pros.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Resop about everything from his workout regimen to his real estate business, charity work, and why he will never be considered a “baseball dad.”
Fit Nation: Now that you’ve moved on to the next stage of your life and career, how does your competitive fire get channeled?
Chris Resop: I retired from baseball, but [Tweet “I like to think of myself as changing professions rather than retiring.”] I played for 14 years professionally and started to just get tired — I had opportunities to continue playing, but I got a little burned out, and really wanted to spend more time with my family.
My family has been in the real estate business for 70 years — my grandfather became involved in real estate and development when he was in his late 20s, and my dad’s brothers do a lot of commercial development up in the St. Pete area. I’ve always loved the business, so I had a really strong idea as to what I wanted to do when I left the game.
I can still be highly competitive with real estate — real estate is a highly competitive business down here in Naples, and this is such a great place to be in this field. I was born and raised in Naples, and have watched the small town grow. I think my connection to this city has helped me leave the game, transition, and avoid what some guys go through when they leave. My new career has really helped me stay focused on what’s important.
Players who pitch for a long time tend to incur some pretty serious injuries in their throwing arms. Have you sustained any major injuries, and if so, what has this meant in terms of post-retirement daily life?
I was blessed and very, very fortunate to have a healthy career. I had a bone spur removed in 2007, which was really just a six- to eight-week recovery. Injuries are part of the nature of the game; they happen to some players, and I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to it. That said, I did everything I could to prevent injuries, in terms of diet and training. I took care of my body as best I could. I’m not going to say that there’s one reason I never got hurt, but taking care of myself and staying healthy was absolutely a focus for me, and I gave it 120% of my effort [even] in the off season.
FN: What did training in a healthy, safe way look like for you?
I grew up weightlifting, so I would lift heavier than most pitchers typically do because my body was just used to it. When you’re lifting a lot of weight, it’s just a matter of being safe. I preferred Olympic-style lifting — so doing the clean, the jerk, the snatch — I think it’s a good and effective workout when done with proper form. Every off-season, I’d come home and I’d get back with my strength coach to get my form back. I’d spend two or three weeks just getting re-acclimated, and it was just as simple as a bar some days, but to start with, it was just about getting that form back before you start adding weight to it, which is super important.
As far as diet, everybody has their different ways. Personally, I’m not a big protein shake guy — I didn’t do supplements or creatine, [so] the protein just came naturally from my diet. I would eat a ton of chicken, but I didn’t go on a low-carb diet or anything; I didn’t want to get as lean as possible, I just found my comfort level where my body felt the best, and stuck with that. I had a playing weight of about 225 pounds — and that was my ideal. When you’re playing professionally, you’re working out so hard, and you’re eating at such different times — often you’ll have dinner at 11 o’clock at night. But I’d been working out from 7 to 11 too, so you just ate when you were able to.
Now that I’m on a routine, I can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner like normal, not at 11 p.m. anymore, and I’m so busy with my kids and everything else in life, that my diet has become just about overall health.
It’s great that you get to spend so much more time with your family these days. How old are your kids, and are they baseball fans?
My kids are ages 5 and 2, and they’re a workout in themselves. My 5-year-old doesn’t have so much of a desire for baseball — he currently loves art and piano. So if he ends up going for baseball, it’s baseball, and if it’s art, it’s art. I’m not interested in pushing him to like what I like — I’ll support him all the way no matter what. I’d be excited for him to be a golfer so we can play together.
Are you playing golf now?
I try. I’m not very good, but I try getting out and playing charity events to support the local schools. It’s always a good time, seeing friends, spending four or five hours outside just enjoying the weather. Playing here in the spring and winter is so beautiful, but in the summertime, it’s just too much.
How do you stay fit these days? What is your workout schedule like, and what is it like compared with your training regimen when you were a pro ball player?
I get in three days a week these days. When I was playing, I would work out five or six days a week, so it felt like that’s all I’d ever done my whole life. When I got home, I just wanted a bit of a vacation, to do what I wanted to do, and have a change of pace.
Would you tell us a little bit about your current involvement in Olympic style weightlifting?
Now I can lift more than I used to without fear of it affecting my career — I’m still careful, don’t get me wrong, but I can push myself further without being concerned that it might affect my next season.
Do you still remain active in the world of baseball?
I keep up with my best friends through the game, mostly through my charity involvement, like Cut for a Cure, which supports the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Half of the proceeds go to developing less abrasive ways to treat the disease. It’s devastating — some of the current treatments make the kids so sick. If they go through chemo, of course, they lose their hair and feel insecure about their looks, so with Cut for a Cure, we shave our heads in support of them, to show them that we’re no different. It gives the kids a thrill, and it gets people talking about the charity. I’ve shaved my head for them four times before, and now I’m starting my own team — this is my first time heading my own event, now that I have the time to really devote to it, which is wonderful. This is the first time anybody’s ever done Cut for a Cure in Naples, as the organization is based out of Tampa.
This was one aspect of being involved in the game that I loved and didn’t want to give up on when I left baseball. In professional sports, there are so many opportunities to be involved and work with [great] charities while playing in different cities, and I really valued that. It’s so great that this is something I’ve gotten the opportunity to do now: bring this charity work back to Naples. The cause I’m focusing on right now is the Golisano Children’s Hospital, a new children’s hospital that they’re building down here in Naples.
What’s the best part of being back in Florida?
Naples is a pretty special place to live, so we’re pretty spoiled here. One of the biggest reasons for me leaving the game was to be a dad, to spend time around my kids, and it’s been awesome. My son told me that he’s so happy that I’m home with him every night, and that moment just solidified that I made the right decision.
What do you enjoy most about your new career?
I’ve always enjoyed architecture, and paying special attention to design has been a hobby for a long time. Real estate for me is a way of giving back, too — people have always given time to me helping me in my career, and I know it might sound odd, but I think this is a way of giving back, too. That’s how I like to approach my work: helping a young couple find their first home, aiding a couple in securing their dream home, helping an investor acquire a good asset. It’s also really wonderful that I can create my own schedule and move my work around, which means spending more time with my wife and my kids.
What would you tell non-professional athletes as we get, well, not exactly old, but not as spry as when we were in our 20s?
CR: Overall health is super important to anybody, whether or not they’re an athlete. It’s important to be healthy for your kids and your own well-being. [Tweet “I really believe that there’s a direct correlation between health and happiness”] — you don’t see that many healthy people who are very unhappy.
What advice do you have for aspiring or amateur pitchers?
From the time I was 5 or 6 years old, this is what I wanted to do. People laughed at me, like, “Oh, you want to be a professional baseball player? Haha, well, good luck, kid,” but you really have to follow your dreams, and work for them. When other kids were going fishing, or off having fun with their buddies, I was in the batting cages.
Baseball always came first to me, and I always said that I got my work in before I played. Get a good coach who can train you properly, and in a healthy way, because that should start young. Some coaches are going to have you doing bench presses and curls, but that’s not going to help you in the world of baseball.
Most importantly, just follow your dreams, and commit to them.
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