If you are a part of Baseball Twitter in any way, your entire Friday afternoon probably got derailed because of one tweet announcing that the Royals had extended a non-roster spring training invite to multiple players. One of whose name is ... Dick Lovelady.
For a few hours on a Friday in the midst of an endlessly slow offseason, Baseball Twitter got the beautiful gift of making “Dick Lovelady” jokes — both funny and hilariously bad jokes — while taking a break from hunting down barely legitimate rumors and small-time free agent deals.
Lovelady, who actually goes by Richard to his teammates and friends, embraced the humor surrounding his name. After all, it’s not like these were the first Dick Lovelady jokes he’s ever heard. After the internet was done having its fun, I talked to Lovelady about baseball, his career, an upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic ... and, of course, being named Dick Lovelady.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
On Friday, a lot of people found out about your name because of the spring training invite that you got, and Baseball Twitter took a couple of hours to have some fun with that. How often does that happen?
That experience that just happened on Friday was probably the first time that’s ever happened. I think that honestly, the name has always been with me; it’s just never, I guess, got the publicity that it did on Friday.
That’s also probably because this offseason is so slow, too. Everyone was like, “Oh! Something we can pay attention to!”
You were favoriting all of the tweets, so you were definitely paying attention to the jokes. Do they bother you at all? Or do you kind of enjoy that people can have some fun with it?
Honestly, I don’t have an issue with it. The funny thing is my parents are the ones who kind of get riled up about it. You know, “That’s not his name stop calling him that.” And I have to say “Mom, Dad, there’s always going to be people out there that say this or do this.” It’s just something you don’t have to worry about. It’s just people that get online and want to get a few likes here or there, and might think it’s funny and start a trend like it did. It’s not that big of a deal to me, as far as humor and whatnot; I’ve heard it my entire life. Every joke you can think of from the bottom to the funniest, it doesn’t matter.
But you do go by “Richard” rather than “Dick.” Was there a specific moment you decided to do that, or did your parents steer you in one direction or another because they saw what might happen with that particular nickname?
I’ve always gone by Richard to my friends and teammates, but as far as names with family, I go by Tyler, because my dad’s name is Richard also. So we can’t both be called Richard or we wouldn’t know who my mom is yelling at. But no, there was never a time where I said, “Hey, I want to go by this or that.” It’s just always the Tyler and Richard thing. That’s just how I usually separated and knew who I was talking to.
As you mentioned, your father’s name is also Richard. Did he have any thoughts about naming you Richard Lovelady Jr. kind of knowing that the names could be humorous depending on what you’d go by or is that more because of family tradition?
Well, you know how today is ... just how people are today in society and they take things out of context from what it is. But back then you didn’t think of it that much. Just naming your kid, you’re going to name him after you. The Jr. part didn’t come in because I do not have the same middle name as him. That’s why when I did see a tweet that was like “There’s a Senior and a Junior!” I was like, no, there’s only one.
Well, the reason this all happened in the first place was because you got a spring training invite after just a year with the organization. Were you surprised at that?
I don’t think “surprised” is the word in that way. I think was enthused by it, just “Wow, this is really happening all my dreams are coming true.” I’ve been here for a very short amount of time, obviously, being drafted just in 2016. It’s everything you dream about that you can envision and see yourself doing, but until actually you get that phone call and it’s like you’re going up or hey you got invited ... then you’re like “Wow!” You kind of get that rush.
It’s a small career sample size so far but you’ve been doing well. How do you feel about your pitching going into traveling with the team this week and spring training?
The biggest thing for me was I wanted to do something that a lot of guys — a lot of ex-baseball players you talk to — said they wish they had done. And that is take the first year seriously; just follow the schedules and the workouts they have for you. Follow them word for word, because the stuff they give you isn’t just to look at and pick this and pick that out of it. They’ve guidelined it, and they’ve been using it, and other people have been using it, and it’s been helping people for a while just by following it.
Later on down the road, of course, you can pick out some things to focus on that have helped you along the way. But as far as the offseason and whatnot, I’m just happy to get back into it. I’ve always been into it from January to December. You know, it’s always baseball for me. Obviously, you get that three-month period where you have no throwing, you get your weights in, you do your rehab and stuff. It’s going to help you stay in the season as long as you can. Keep you honest and training.
As we talked about before we started the interview, you’re heading to the Dominican Republic to do a little pre-spring training work and play some games. There have been a lot of change in those island leagues this year because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Has the team or the organization talked about that at all before the trip?
This trip is to the Dominican Republic, it’s going to be an opportunity. And I’m very thankful to be a part of it. Honestly, the way people talk about it is a great experience, something that you should at least do once in your entire baseball career as a minor league player or a major league player. It’s an experience of how some of those guys you’re around 24/7 ... how they fit and how they came up and what they came up through, and stuff like that. It’s a good building experience.
The stuff we’re going to do down there is more of like community stuff. As far as helping kids or helping people around their house, and going to experience another set of customs that are over there. I’d say it’s going to be a wakeup call for sure, not for me but for other players, in case they’re not used to being out of the country. Young high school guys, or if they’re not used to not being able to use their phones [laughs]. You might get some service over there but it won’t be the best so it’s going to be a huge wake up call.
Besides this trip, what are you most looking forward to in the year ahead? Whether you make the roster, don’t make the roster. What are you anticipating as you enter your second full season in the league?
I would say I’m really, honestly going to try my absolute hardest to make the team out of camp. There’ll be no question of “I wish I’d done this or done that.” I’m honestly going to try my absolute hardest, like I have been so far, to get where I’m at and to make camp. Because you know that’s your dream. Your dream isn’t just to get drafted, you know? It’s to make the big leagues and make some kid’s day or make some kid wear your jersey.
I know some guys that go and are like “Oh I want to get drafted, that’s my goal.” But what’s your goal after that? It’s not just about getting drafted; it’s more about what are your next steps? What are your next steps after you get drafted? What are you going to do after that? So, I mean as I’m getting prepared, I would say that this year is going to be fun. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be very full of excitement, obviously you are going to have your ups and downs, but I’m ready for it. I really am. I’m ready for it regardless of whether it’s on the minor league roster or on the 162 game roster. I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be wasting the world’s time if I wasn’t going to be putting effort into it.
To wrap up, wanted to go back to the name real quick for some rapid fire questions.
Do you have a favorite athlete also named Dick?
Uh ... I do not.
OK, I’ll make sure to tell Dick Butkus you said that. What is the best joke someone has ever told about your name?
The funniest thing I’ve ever seen was ... it didn’t get many favorites at all. But it was the comments during Friday’s thing, and it was, “I bet Richard Lovelady’s favorite pitch is the splitter.” It was ... I just thought it was the funniest thing ever. It didn’t get much likes, I think a lot of people were just like oh, OK, blah blah. But that was the one that cracked me up the most.
What’s the worst joke someone has ever told about your name?
Let me try to think here ... the worst joke someone’s said about my name. With the last name Lovelady people will go and be like “Richard Lovemen” or something of that nature, that’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever heard. But it’s been a while.
Yeah, if you’re going to make a joke you have to craft it.
You’ve had what, 20-plus years now of people saying them; you’ve heard them all. You have to come to the table if you’re going to make the joke.
You kind of mentioned before that your dad didn’t think of this. He was just naming you after him and that’s a great gesture! Now that it’s a different age and everyone’s got a joke, would you consider naming your own son Richard Lovelady if you had a son?
I would 100 percent name my kid Richard Lovelady. I’d have no doubts at all and be honored for him to take my name.
Perfect. I support it because we need Jr. to happen!
Finally, I have to ask about my favorite thing. If you make a major league roster someday, which I hope you do because I would definitely buy that jersey, what would your walk-up music be? Would you have some fun with it at all?
I will say I’m very ... I wouldn’t say superstitious but ... I’m very you know, I’m the same. Every season. From junior college to D1 ball to my first of minor league ball, I’ve had the same walk-up song. It’s “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. Which is something that I heard when I was playing summer ball before I got drafted, and I was like oh my god what is this song? I was trying to find it, I was replaying this Snap on somebody’s Snap Story and I was like “Aw man I kind of like this; somebody get a phone I need to Shazam this! I need to figure out what song this is!” because I couldn’t think of it at the moment. And I was like, yeah, this is it, this is going to be my song and I’ve always kept it. It’s fueled me since the little days so I need to keep it now.
That is a great origin story, from the Snap to the Shazam to it being Led Zeppelin. That’s a very millennial origin story and I appreciate it and relate.
It’s the worst when it’s a song that you know but you can’t think of it off the top of your head! The worst.