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Torii Hunter: Angels right fielder, space cadet

June 22, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Torii Hunter, right, celebrates with Mike Trout after a victory earlier this month.
Torii Hunter, right, celebrates with Mike Trout after a victory earlier… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

A 20-minute conversation Friday with astronaut Joe Acaba, who is currently en route to the International Space Station with two Russian astronauts, had Torii Hunter thinking back to those times as a child when his mother, Shirley, thought he was talking gibberish.

“When my mom didn’t understand me, she would always tell me, ‘Stop talking like the man on the moon,’ ” the Angels right fielder said. “So mom, I want to tell you that I actually talked to a man in space today, and if you think I need to see a psychiatrist, it’s not true. This was real.”

Hunter’s question-and-answer session with Acaba, who was born in Inglewood, raised in Anaheim and graduated from Esperanza High School in 1985, was taped, and excerpts will be played on telecasts of the Dodgers-Angels games Friday night and Saturday.

Among Hunter’s questions to Acaba: How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space? Can you see the halo around the Big A in the Angel Stadium parking lot from space? Have you ever seen E.T.?

“NASA was monitoring the conversation, and they were all rolling” with laughter, Hunter said. “It was cool. He’s very outgoing. And it was pretty neat to see him floating.”

Hunter invited Acaba, an Angels fan, to a game in September when the astronaut returns from his mission.

“He’s a hero,” Hunter said. “I’m pretty sure all kids, at one time, said, ‘I want to be an astronaut.’ These guys work hard, they go through a lot, and for him to fulfill a childhood dream is pretty awesome.”


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