For pretty much all of us who grew up in Canada, Roberto (Robbie) Alomar was a hero, his name a top jersey choice and the subject of playground banter.
The native of Puerto Rico became a household name North of the Border when he was a key player on the Toronto Blue Jays teams that won back-to-back World Series in ’92 and ’93.
And who could ever forget his McCain punch commercials, which would dominate prime commercial time during Saturday morning cartoons. That’s why my elementary school self freaked out a tad when I met the now 48-year-old Baseball Hall of Famer on Friday afternoon in Toronto.
Alomar and Aleve hosted an interview session and lunch at The Addison’s Residence.
We can read about Alomar’s baseball career anywhere. What I really wanted to find out was how he stays young both at heart and on the eyes. We basically chatted about everything but baseball.
So what’s the secret to his youth? It all comes down to eating right, ample sleep, coconut oil, music and a toddler to chase after.
Alomar, who has a two-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old stepdaughter with his wife, Kim Perks, says he’s more of a family-oriented, private guy these days. He attributes his youthful persona on simply being happy. “I’m a happy person; I like to give back to the community and the kids,” he says.
Of course, a positive outlook can only get you so far; to stay healthy means you have to eat well and do the physical work. Alomar’s physical activity starts bright and early, before he even opens his bedroom door.
Prior to starting his morning routine with his family, he does 100 pushups and squats using nothing but his own body weight.
“I’m a really active guy. I like to go to the gym in the morning; I like to ride my spinning bike, and eat well,” says Alomar. “When you do those things combined, and can be happy with your family – that’s what it’s about.”
Like many of us, Alomar relies on a quick caffeine fix to get the day started. No day starts without an espresso.
That’s not to say he’s lacking in sleep. “I try to get as much sleep as I can – at least 8-10 hours,” he tells me, admitting that its sometimes a challenge with a baby.
Though he says he’s not a seasoned chef himself (he has an expert chef at home), Alomar relies on a diet rich in seafood and vegetables.
“I like my fish – like my sea bass – I like my veggies, and my rice,” says Alomar, who is vocal about his distaste for red meat.
While you won’t find him partying at King West hotspots (“those days are behind me”), Alomar loves Toronto’s ever-growing culinary scene.
“I love restaurants. I like Chiado for great seafood, I love Buca, I like Jacobs (seafood over steak). Any place with great seafood, I’ll go,” says Alomar.
He may not do red meat, but if you place a doughnut or tiramisu (“that’s my weakness,” he says) in front of him, he may not be able to resist.
In addition to the restaurants, Alomar loves the people in Toronto: “The people are so nice. The food is great. I just love the lifestyle: the way people dress, the way they take care of themselves – they love being active and working out.”
Also helping his youthful vibe is Alomar’s relaxed, casual style.
On Friday, he is sporting what he tells me are his go-tos: funky, graphic shoes (by Louis Vuitton), Diesel jeans, a crisp t-shirt and a blazer.
In the summer, he says he’ll often swap the jeans for shorts and the flashy shoes for sandals. “When it comes to designers, I love my Louis Vuitton shoes, my Gucci shoes, and my Diesel and Hudson jeans,” he says.
As for that glow, Alomar keeps the coconut oil handy.
“I use coconut oil on my face; I don’t use any creams – just coconut oil. And every night and morning, I clean my face with some good foam. I never use soap on my face.”
Of course, there’s more to Alomar than his appearance. It’s clear that his charitable foundation, Foundation 12, is among his greatest passions.
“To me, what I like to see is the kids and how they smile when I see them – how they hug me, thank me, how they know who I am even though they’re so young. That’s what’s rewarding,” he says.
He is especially passionate about his impact on kids with special needs.
“I remember, a kid came to me and said ‘you know, I’m living the dream through you, Robbie’. I asked him what he meant, and he said he always wanted to be a ball player. Those little things make you want to continue to be with them and fight for them,” he says. Charity is something that he tries to instil in his own children, and something he learned from his own parents.
As for maintaining his mental health, Alomar’s loves going to a room by himself and listening to Puerto Rican music. When he’s not advising the Jays and changing kids’ lives, he spends his time travelling with his family and escaping to their home in Bahamas.