Photos by Judith Stephens
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The 25 year-old left-handed pitcher from sunny Hialeah, Fla. has been playing Major League Baseball with the Oakland Athletics since 2008 and is quickly becoming one of the hottest young hurlers in the game.
Heading into tonight's start against the New York Mets, Gio was the A's staff leader in ERA (an impressive 2.69) and strikeouts (82)-- and he owed it all in large part to having one of the game's meanest curveballs in his repertoire.
With that said, however, if you’re looking to ask the young star how he does it, the answer might have to wait. As much as people love to admire his talents, Gio loves to marvel at, well... Marvel.
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And not unlike most Marvel fans, his passion took off from there.
“Still to this day, whenever I see a comic book, I have to open it up and read it. It brings out that inner kid in me, and coming here has been a blessing in disguise. It’s something I couldn’t pass up,” Gio said.
This was all too apparent when the Oakland ace ran into Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer and resident baseball fanatic, Joe Quesada. As excited as Joe was to meet Gio and learn about his ability to throw a curve, Gio seemed to be even more excited to meet Joe and his ability to draw one.
|Joe Quesada, Gio's Father Max Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez|
But Gio’s love for Marvel's characters does not just stop at the comics. For one thing, he freely admits he'll probably be the first one in line to see "Captain America: The First Avenger" when it opens July 22... and will repeat his actions for "Marvel's The Avengers" next year. Plus, as much as Gio could beat you on the diamond, he would love to beat you at the "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" video game even more. “Oh, man! I always get Ryu and Wolverine," he exclaimed. "Those guys have the best finishers."
|Gio Gonzalez with Marvel EIC, Axel Alonso|
“With me, I try to just be that kid all season. I just try to bring it out in some of the other players,” Gio said. “Everyone has a super hero inside them. Everybody wants to be a Spider-Man or an Incredible Hulk or a Thor or an Iron Man or even a Wolverine.”
And with Gio's confounding curveball, Major League hitters may feel the need to summon one of those inner Marvel super heroes just to hit it.
Be sure to follow Gio Gonzalez on Twitter at http://twitter.com/GioGonzalez47.