If we didn't already know that the most interesting man in the world was the bearded guy in the beer commercials, we might assume that it's left-hander C.J. Wilson. Not only does he pitch for the Los Angeles Angels, but he also pitches Head & Shoulders shampoo. And he likes to race motorcycles competitively, and he owns a Mazda auto dealership in suburban Chicago, along with a motorcycle shop and a dirt bike shop with more, he says, on the way. He's also married to supermodel Lisalla Montenegro. Is there anything that Wilson hasn't accomplished or at least tried?
Maybe a recent Answer Man session will say.
David Brown: You've been a spokesman for a couple of years now. What's special about the "Season of the Whiff" commercials you're doing with Head & Shoulders?
CJW: It’s a public-service campaign. We’re raising money for the RBI program so, across baseball, there’s literally a dollar donated for every strikeout. And then for each fan who tweets at their team, along with “#whiff,” and those get counted every month. The top seven teams get cash bonuses for their individual RBI programs. Last year, $140,000 went out and they estimate even more this year. Maybe $260,000 is going to go out because more teams are getting involved. It’s really cool because a lot of MLB guys have come through the RBI program, so we’re doing a good service for future major leaguers — giving them the right equipment and everything like that.
DB: And "whiffs" have a double meaning, right? Not just strikeouts but strangers going up to other strangers and smelling their heads?
CJW: What’s different this year — last year we did the combination of Head & Shoulders and Old Spice. This year, it’s the “fresh scent” technology, which has a lot of different flavors. If you smell good, people are going to get a whiff of your hair. And if you strike somebody out, they’re going to get a whiff, so that’s kind of the idea of the double entendre there.
DB: Do you think you could be a shampoo model without having the cachet of being a major league pitcher?
CJW: Oh, I dunno. I think I have pretty decent hair but I don’t think modeling will be a full-time job for me. But if someone was to discover me at the mall and recruit me if I wasn’t a baseball player: “You there with the hair! You, the regular brown-haired white guy, you should come with me and take photos.” I’d be, like, “Sure. You don’t seem like a creepy person with a van.”
DB: Technical question here: Do you always remember to scrub your eyebrows with shampoo? Because they are technically hair too. Sometimes I miss a spot and that’s it.
CJW: The eyebrows thing, it’s more of a wipe than a scrub or anything like that. You’ve got to look around and see if there are people with really weird eyebrows, because that’s probably a grooming thing. If you don’t see anyone, you might be the guy with the weird eyebrows. The NBA player from Kentucky, I forget his name...
DB: I can’t think… Anthony Davis.
CJW: I wouldn’t want to be the trademark uni-brow guy. It’s like if you’re playing poker and can’t spot the sucker, then you’re the sucker. You’ve got to be on top of that.
DB: Do you still just own the one Mazda dealership in Countryside, Ill., or have you expanded your empire?
CJW: We’re working on that. We have a couple of motorcycle stores as well. We have the BMW motorcycle store next door to the Countryside Mazda store, along with a KTM Dirt bike shop. We’re working on getting more stuff in Chicago and California but legally I can’t comment on the specifics until the acquisitions are complete. Ask me again in about 30 days, and I might have more information, a much more clear answer.
DB: Your online ratings for the Mazda store are pretty good. Sometimes online ratings can be iffy with the trolls out there and sample size, but on Yelp and Dealership-whatever dot com, they’re like 3.8 or 4.1 out of 5.0. That’s pretty good for the internet.
CJW: We’ve actually had to work a lot on our customer service directive. It’s one of the big things for me because, as a “car guy” — I’ve bought and sold a bunch of cars over the years — I remember which stores I didn’t have a good experience at. One of the things I came into the ownership realizing was, what it’s like to be a mistreated customer. So I was like, “Look guys, this is really important. Every customer that walks in, look at them like they’re me walking in. And their name’s on the door and their name is on the side of the building. Like they have something to lose.”
Because, literally the people we sell cars to, they’re buying them to take them from Point A to Point B. They’re picking people up from the airport, they’re picking kids up at kindergarten. They need this car to get around. So when we service the car, let’s make sure we give them the most comprehensive look, so they’re not driving down the street and their oil pan falls out. It’s a cohesiveness with my brand that I’m trying to make sure doing it the right way in a classy manner. And when I took over, I think our rating was like a 2.4, so it’s changed. I think some of it is, employees are a little more cheerful at the office. If you’re a salesperson, it’s a commission-based structure, so we tell them, “The happier you are, the more customers are going to come back. The more that come back, the more money you’ll make.”
I learned a lot of that from working at Nordstrom’s when I was a teenager, you know? And as a young adult as well. I learned how to be a customer service representative, not just a salesperson. If that makes sense.
DB: What was working at Nordstrom like?
CJW: I worked at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif and at the Shops at Mission Viejo. I started as a stock guy, then I did stuff like folding sweaters. I did some sales. It was a good education for me in that it allowed me to be much more of a people person than I was.
DB: It doesn’t seem like too many Major League Baseball players have “real jobs” because baseball and school took up all of the time.
CJW: It depends on the economic background you’re from because I needed to work. We couldn’t otherwise afford that shiny new Easton bat or that A2000 Wilson Glove unless I went out there and paid for it myself. $300 bats and gloves don’t buy themselves. That’s the only way I could get through high school and junior college.
DB: What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven?
CJW: Fastest I’ve ever driven is 315 KPH, and I think that’s like, 196 mph. That was in Germany in 2007.
CJW: A farm road in Germany. A foreign car. It was pretty cool, a great experience.
DB: After you heard about Paul Walker, did you think about your own mortality because you like to race and he did too?
CJW: Ironically enough, I know the previous owner of that car and I also have the same car. And Paul Walker and I actually raced together, including when he raced for my team, in an offseason race at Thunder Hill. So, I knew Paul Walker pretty well and I was very sad to hear that he passed away. I think it came out that the guy who was driving 100 mph in a 40 mph zone, which you really can’t advise. And with that car in particular, as someone who owns it, drives it and have driven it on a track before, you have to be more respectful than brave when you’re driving that car. If you’re going by a scale of respect vs. bravery, it’s better to be on the respectful side. It’s not like a Camry where you can just smash the gas and go straight. It’s much more complicated than that.
DB: I didn’t realize you knew him that well; I’m sorry, C.J.
CJW: It’s all right. Racing is a dangerous sport. So many people have died or been paralyzed, so it goes with the territory. On a bigger scale it’s like saying, “I’m sorry your friend had Tommy John surgery,” I guess. It’s part of the business.
DB: Have you put yourself on a list to go to space?
CJW: No. I have no desire to go to space. Or bungee jump. The only thing I want to do on the super-extreme side, or might enjoy, is shark diving. That’s it. I want to do that. I want to get in the cage. My buddy is a shark photographer and he says, “C’mon, man, get out of the cage, don’t be a wuss.” I’m like, “I’m not even in the water yet and you’re giving me a hard time about the cage.”
DB: Would a shark cage also be a place on Earth to go “before you die” kind of thing?
CJW: I want to go to Kenya to do a real safari and see the animals in their natural habitat. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t do those things; I kind of rationalize opportunities into numbers. I give something a “6” for this and a “10” for that.
DB: What’s one place you have been that you recommend above all others?
CJW: Florence, Italy and Barcelona, Spain. Anybody can appreciate the architecture, the art, the culture and the food. If you don’t like Italian food, I don’t know. You can go to a gas station in Italy and have, like, pasta bolognese that beats everything in the U.S. And Florence is accessible. It’s not hideously expensive to go to Florence, the way it is to go to Tokyo or something like that. Or Iceland.
DB: What would you have to do to get as skinny as Chris Sale?
CJW: Be in a full body cast for a month? He’s a Micro Machine. He’s 160 pounds and four inches taller than me, it’s crazy.
DB: Is Albert Pujols more like NostraPujols after predicting he’d hit his 500th home run the day he hit 499 and 500?
CJW: If he’s got that feeling, he’s probably right because he’s done it before. He’s not like some rookie out there saying, “I’m going to get 4,000 hits!” Because there was a guy on the A’s who said something like that and it didn’t work out for him. The only thing we ever joke about with Albert is that we’re excited about him getting close to 100 career stolen bases as well. Not too many people know that. But he recently got his 94th stolen base, which is pretty awesome. He’s got a chance to be in that very rare 500-100 club.
DB: Is there anything you wouldn’t do for Mike Trout?
CJW: I’m a big Mike Trout fan. I even have a big cardboard Mike Trout heads, that are three feet tall, or whatever? I have one of those in my garage, guarding one of my cars.
Written by David Brown for Big League Stew. View original article HERE.