How Rocky Road ice cream explains Orioles phenom Joey Rickard's worldview

Before Joey Rickard became one of the most beloved players on baseball's most unexpected success story, he was just that neighborhood kid who raids your fridge and unrepentantly eats your favorite food.

Let's go back to August 2011. Rickard is at Arizona for his junior season. He's heading to the home of Wildcats coach Andy Lopez with the skipper's two sons, David and Michael, and some other players.


After a hot summer day spent in the pool, they head inside. David and Michael tell Rickard to help himself to what's in the refrigerator.

What Rickard sees is a carton of Rocky Road ice cream. What Rickard does not know is that Coach Lopez loves Rocky Road ice cream. That it is, in fact, his "real weakness."

Lopez, in his recounting of this episode on Glenn Clark Radio last week, is sitting on the couch, watching TV, when the unthinkable happens.

"Rickard comes out with a [carton] of Rocky Road ice cream," Lopez recalled, "and he's sitting there eating it. I'm looking at him, and my boys know, 'Hey, man, you're eating Dad's favorite ice cream.' And I finally turn to him. I say, 'Rick, you're eating the only thing I really crave in life.' And he looks at me like, 'Oh, I'm sorry, Lope,' and just kept eating it. That's when I knew — you know what, this guy's going to be OK. He wasn't intimidated. … Just went about his business."

That’s Joseph Mark Rickard for you. He will go from Rule 5 draft pick to Opening Day starter. He will hit leadoff doubles against David Price. He will drink your milshake eat your ice cream.

Also noteworthy from the interview — Lopez on whether it's unreasonable to expect Rickard to produce as a power hitter:

"It's probably going to be the only question that people are going to have to really kind of swallow is: Is he going to be a power-hitting home run guy? And I hope I'm wrong. I really do. I love Joey, but I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think that's the guy. I think you're going to get the big hit when you need it. I think you're going to get tremendously solid defense, a great base runner, all the little things. But is he going to be a 20- to 25-home run guy? Boy, if he is, I really should've hit him in the 3-role [at Arizona]."

On how Rickard can handle the transition to the major leagues:

"I don't think he's in awe of too many things. Obviously, you're going to be in awe because of the speed of the game. It's the big leagues. Come on, there's two or three decks in that stadium. That guy's only been playing at stadiums with a level. But it's the big leagues, and we all know that, but he's got an old soul."

On his willingness to be coached and overcome slumps:

"He was so open to help and so open to teaching. In other words, he wouldn't fight you. … Sometimes a young guy comes in, and you say, 'Hey, you're tired, let's try this or let's do this or let's give you a day off,' and they fight you in an immature way. Nah. Being with Joey during that time [at Arizona] was really kind of special. He doesn't come from a pampered background."

You can listen to the full 16-minute interview here.

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