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In Sports

Hardy has replaced Scott Podsednik as a favorite of female fans. (Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers). (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

In Sports

On a roster full of young players, Hardy is a leader. (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

In Sports

Until this season, Hardy was known primarily for his defense. (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

In Sports

Fans expect Hardy, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks to anchor the Brewers' infield for years. (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

In Sports

All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy. (PHOTO: Allen Fredrickson )

Milwaukee Talks: Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy


It's the bottom of the fifth inning at Miller Park and shortstop J.J. Hardy is at the plate for the Brewers. FSN Wisconsin Davey Nelson is watching the game on TV in the media dining room behind the press box when the camera pans to a young girl holding a sign that reads: "Marry me, J.J.!"

Nelson laughs.

"Remember what it was like when (Scott) Podsednik was here?" Nelson asks a reporter, referring to a popular outfielder traded to Chicago after the 2004 season. "They used to call him 'Scottie Hottie.' They really wore him out with that stuff. I was wondering if we'd have another one of those big-time, heartthrob guys after Podsednik left, and it looks like J.J. is the guy."

In 2 1/2 eventful seasons with the Brewers, Hardy has gone from promising prospect to injury-prone question mark to surprising home-run leader to soap opera guest star (Who could forget that cheesy line on "The Young and the Restless?") to National League all-star. A few weeks shy of his 25th birthday (Aug. 19), he has established himself as a leader among the young players in the clubhouse and as a fan favorite.

Before a recent game against the Giants, we asked him about his female fan base, his trip to the All-Star Game and his strategy for ending the hitting slump that has dogged him in recent weeks.

Enjoy this Milwaukee Talks interview with Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy:

OnMilwaukee.com: What is it like to be a matinee idol?

J.J. Hardy: What do you mean?

OMC: All the screaming girls in the stands with their signs? It's what every kid playing baseball dreams of, right?

JJH: It's a little strange.

OMC: It seems like one of those things that are better in theory than in reality. What is your fan mail like these days?

JJH: I haven't really been looking at that stuff very much lately. Even last year, I had dads sending me pictures of daughters.

OMC: Really?

JJH: Yeah, it was like, "She's graduating. Can you call her? Here is her e-mail address." I thought that was a little strange.

OMC: Look at it this way: you're exposing the Brewers to a new demographic.

JJH: I guess. It seems like it's always the 16-year-olds, too. (Rookie third baseman Ryan) Braun is starting to get a little bit of it, too. He can take some of it away. It's fun, though. It's fun for everyone else to make fun of me, I'm sure.

OMC: What's the social scene like for a single Brewer in Milwaukee?

JJH: I don't go out. I think I've been out once or twice in Milwaukee this whole season. I don't like the attention. I can't stand it.

OMC: Packers players have said the same thing over the years about living in a bit of a fishbowl in Green Bay. Milwaukee is a bigger city, tough. Is this a new phenomenon with the team winning and the soap opera and the All-Star Game?

JJH: It was getting bad last year, to the point where I didn't really like it. I just don't like the attention. You go grab a sandwich and someone recognizes you. All of a sudden, the whole place is looking at you. That's still weird to me.

OMC: Now that you've had a couple weeks to get back into the routine, how was your experience at the All-Star Game?

JJH: It was really awesome. It was a great experience. My family was able to come along and they had a great time. It was great.

OMC: With all the interviews and appearances and other obligations, were you surprised at how busy those two days are?

JJH: It was busy, but I wasn't really surprised, because everyone kind of warned me about that. Right after the game was the only time that I was able to really hang out with my family and say, "Whew!" and just relax.

OMC: What was the coolest part of the experience?

JJH: The whole experience was cool. I can't think of just one thing that stands out. The red carpet parade they had was cool. I wish I'd have brought my family with me for that, because I was sitting in the back of the truck by myself and everyone else had their family. I didn't really realize what was going on. We walked into this tent before the red carpet and they had all this stuff for us to grab. They had bags that we could fill up with all-star shirts and jerseys and stuff. That was really cool. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

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Talkbacks

arks00 | July 26, 2007 at 2:52 p.m. (report)

lost 3 to the Reds..... are we still TRYING to make the playoffs? wtf?

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danno | July 26, 2007 at 10:25 a.m. (report)

I think (T)Yost is getting carried away with platooning players. Council is a liability right now.

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ChateauDweller | July 26, 2007 at 9:52 a.m. (report)

He may be in a slump right now, but at least he doesn't drive a Segway, hang out at Roots, or went to Duke like Capuano!

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