I sat down with former Red Sox slugger and American League MVP Mo Vaughn to find out what he's up to these days. We talked about his new clothing line, the 2016 Red Sox, David Ortiz's legacy and much more.
Duxbury Clipper: How did MVP Collections come to be?
Mo Vaughn: I started off with Diane Cutuli as my partner. She’s been in the business 20-plus years. I came to her with an idea about “Big & Tall Guy.” She took it back and did some reconnaissance for about three or four months and found that this was a need. Anything I’ve been able to get into, whether it be affordable housing, which I started in ’04, to transportation to now Collections, I’ve always thought of things that are needs. The biggest thing with this one is that I’m the exact customer. I can basically speck out what is needed and what’s not needed and which way we need to go with things.
You know I’m not a big social media guy. I’m starting to get accustomed to it and getting there and understanding what it means, but our main thing now is that we’re servicing jeans from sizes 38 to 50, from 2X to 6X. That’s how we’re trying to drive this brand. We want to take our time. We’re not in a rush, so we’ll see where it goes. This basically came because I was a customer looking for stuff and couldn’t find it. I have the accessible income to go out and buy it, so we’re trying to service that guy. If you want some style, we want to be able to look like anybody else. Why can’t we have the same style? We can’t we have a nice sport coat? Why can’t we have a nice button-down? Why can’t we have all the things everybody else has? That’s what we’re trying to do here.
With Diane’s experience, we’ve been able to create a line. Because there’s not a lot of factual information about Big & Tall and there’s not a lot of DXL or stores like that, we need to collect data. We’re doing a lot of data analysis to find out what the product is about. The main thing is that it’s made in America, which we think is very, very important. It was one of the staples in what we wanted to do. We want to listen to the customer to find out what we want to do.
DC: What does MVP offer that other similar companies don’t?
MV: The thing about is that we have the style and we understand the style. We’re trying to bring style to our product and they don’t have me, who is the customer, who actually lives a life. I walk around with some guys on a daily basis, and there’s always a critique about how to get to the premier position. The fact that it’s just not there, we’re able to set the trend. We’re going to be the first in this market at all times. We’re going to go out and keep changing. I’m the model. I’m the everything. I’m the face of the brand. We’re going to be at the forefront, we’re going to be ahead of it and we’re going to get it done. They have me as the face.
DC: Was this something you were always interested in back during your career, or is it something that came to be after the fact?
MV: I’ve always been interested in it, even when I was playing. Even when you’re playing, it’s tough to find clothes. For me, I’ve always tried to wait to get the right people into effect. It took a little bit longer than I wanted, but I’ve got Diane and a great team, and here we are.
DC: Do you have any ties to the South Shore?
MV: I started my career in Quincy. I have family in Brockton. I lived in Easton. I’m a South Shore guy. We go out to Cape Cod.
DC: How often do you make it back to Boston and how often to you go to Sox games?
MV: Not as much as I would like to. I’m very, very proud of the Red Sox. That 2004 World Series lifted a lot of pressure off all of us ex-Red Sox. If you had any type of history with the Sox, it was a great day for us. I’m very, very proud of them and what they’ve accomplished winning three World Series championships. When I left, the Pedro Martinezes, the David Ortizes, the Dustin Pedroias of the world, they continued to set the example of what Red Sox baseball should be like.
David Ortiz, in my opinion, is in the top three or four athletes in the history of our beloved city. He’s got championships. He ranks with the Bradys, the Bobby Orrs, the Larry Birds. Ted Williams and Yaz, you’re gonna have those guys, but he has the hardware more than all of them. That’s what he’s all about. He’s really made his mark in this city of being one of the top three, four, five guys in the history of Boston sports.
DC: What’s it like playing in Boston compared to other cities? What does this city bring that others don’t?
MV: Intensity. The willingness to demand excellence of play. It may be easier when you’re coming from West Coast to East Coast than from East to West. On the first play of the game, I went out to Anaheim, do I look back and wonder what things could have been? Of course I do. The opportunity to have a baseball life and a great life after, it’s all about how you look at it. Things happen and you live with it. The overall playing experience that I had, 12 years and eight of them here, these were the best years.
DC: Do you watch this year’s team much?
MV: Oh yeah. They’re slugging. My family and I, we always make the trip out. The greatest thing for me now is going to spring training with JetBlue. It would have been great to practice there for six weeks to get your swing ready before you even started. The ownership of this team now has made all of us ex-Red Sox feel at home. They take care of us.
DC: Are there any players in today's game who you think model their games off you or who remind you of yourself?
MV: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think I was that good. We’ve got some guys who are really talented. The Mike Trouts of the world, the kid in Washington (Bryce Harper), Manny Machado. They’ve got some good young guns. I’m glad I’m retired. I think when I was playing ball there was maybe one guy throwing 100 miles per hour and now there’s over like 16. I’m right where I need to be, sitting down.
DC: Where were you when you heard about the Jose Fernandez news and what was your reaction? What’s it been like seeing the baseball world rally around him and support him so much?
MV: I was in Ohio. You never can understand the Cuban tradition of defection and what it takes to go out and put yourself in harm’s way to get to the United States and then to make it. His overall way of life, his attitude, he was charismatic, he had life. No one ever fully realizes what someone brings until they’re gone. It’s a tremendous loss.
He’s 24. I could be that kid’s father. I’ve got my own two young kids, so that’s how I take it. Man. How do you lose a young child like that? It’s a tremendous loss to Miami.
DC: Do you think athletes should consistently speak out on racial issues or should they stay quiet?
MV: I think it’s everybody’s decision what they’re going to do. There’s no right and wrong. The main thing is to correct an issue. That’s what we’re all trying to get to. We work together in the clubhouse. Hispanic, black, white, we all seem to play on the same team. I have relationships with people from different continents, different backgrounds, farmers, we seem to be able to get along. Why can’t we do that in the street? That’s what dismays me, but that gives me hope that we can correct it. When we go to a ballgame, black, white, different colors, we all root for the same team. How come we can’t get that going elsewhere? That’s what we have to do.
DC: When’s the last time you were at Fenway?
MV: Last year. I come at least once a year. I’ve been lucky enough to say I’ve been very busy. I’m in the affordable housing business and I own property up here, so I’m up here. I get the chance to stop in all the time. They’ve got that Bleacher Report app and my favorite team’s the Red Sox, so I know what’s going on.