New York Yankees designated hitter David Justice’s career has been interrupted by one injury after the next: a dislocated shoulder, hyper-extended elbow, knee tendonitis, and assorted muscle pulls and ligament strains. So when Justice celebrated his 35th birthday this year, he considered it a badge of honor that he was still playing major league baseball. We talked with him about aging gracefully.
AW: what’s it like at 35?
DJ: In some ways, I feel older; in some ways, younger. I mean, it’s weird when some bearded guy, a full-grown adult, comes up to me and says he idolized me when he was a kid. I end up doing a double take, saying, “Say what? How old are you?”
AW: Where do you feel the years?
DJ: Well, I don’t think I get my bat around as quickly as I used to. And my body doesn’t get moving as quickly as it used to. I wake up slowly these days. That’s why I need to come to the ballpark earlier. Just to get my heat treatments and my stretching in, so I can ease into playing. I’m always sore, and it’s something else every day. One day, it’s my shoulder. Another, it’s my legs. And on the worst days, it’s total body soreness.
AW: How have you changed as a player over the years?
DJ: Aside from being the DH instead of a fulltime outfielder, I’m not a pull hitter like I was early in my career. I hit the ball to all fields.
AW: What do you want to do after baseball?
DJ: For the first five years, nothing — that is, nothing but fun stuff. I want to enjoy the summers like everybody else. The backyard cookouts. Hanging out at the beach. I haven’t had a summer off since I was 19.