Q&A: Enigmatic McHugh talks holiday traditions

Q&A: Enigmatic McHugh talks holiday traditions

HOUSTON -- If pitcher Collin McHugh isn't the most interesting man in the world, he's certainly the most interesting player on the Astros. Who else can play the ukulele, clarinet, guitar and drums, is an avid reader and occasionally smokes a pipe?

McHugh, 29, has proven to be a pretty good pitcher, too. He's gone 43-26 with a 3.71 ERA in 90 starts with the Astros over the past three years, including 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA last season. He took some time to answer some questions from MLB.com about his holiday traditions:

MLB.com: What were the holidays like for you growing up?

McHugh: "Lots of family time. We would always do Christmas morning with my immediate family (parents and three siblings). But I also have six aunts and uncles, 13 first cousins and too many second cousins to count. And we all get together every year around Christmas at my grandparents' house. It's been a tradition for my entire life, and there seems to be no end in sight."

McHugh's scoreless start

MLB.com: I know you come from a musical family, and are the son of a pastor. What was that experience like around Christmas?

McHugh: "Growing up, we always had a Christmas-music service at the church. There would be hymns, traditional Christmas songs and if everyone was lucky, I would get up and do a solo in front of the congregation. I'd wear a festive sweater and totally kill it."

MLB.com: Was there a certain gift you got as a kid that still stands out to this day?

McHugh: "My parents got me a drum set when I was in sixth grade. I came downstairs and it was all set up in my section of the living room. Having four kids, my parents probably saved a fortune by sorting (instead of wrapping) gifts on Christmas morning. I would play that set in the basement daily, which in retrospect, probably drove everyone in the house nuts."

MLB.com: Now that you're a dad, what kind of memories would you like to create for your son?

McHugh: "I truly believe that the most important thing about Christmas morning is the proper technique to opening presents. Too many people are polite with their unwrapping of gifts. They meticulously pull the tape away from the edges and unwrap without tearing the paper. The one thing I will teach my son is to tear the paper like a crazy person. It was always my favorite part of the day, and I'd like to pass that along. ... Oh, and baby Jesus, peace, good will toward men, etc."

MLB.com: What kind of gifts do you hope to get this year?

McHugh: "I've been told that I am hard to buy gifts for. Apparently, if I want something bad enough I just get it for myself. That being the case, I've asked Santa to bring me back my receding hair line. I can't seem to find a store that sells it."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.