Image credit: Josh Booty (Photo by AllSport/Getty Images)
“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.
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Following the 1994 MLB draft, Josh Booty had $1.6 million reasons to give up playing football. However, no amount of money or contractual perks afforded to the 5th overall pick could prevent him from longing for the sport he’d starred in since childhood.
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A standout shortstop and quarterback at Evangel Christian High School in Shreveport, LA, Booty was seemingly ticketed for stardom in whichever sport he chose. Committed to play both baseball and football at LSU, Booty instead had to spurn the school entirely via the no football clause included in his then-record setting contract that he signed with the second year franchise Florida Marlins.
His prodigious talent in baseball was the cause of him shutting the door on his love of football, a door that as early as the first offseason of his professional baseball career he realized was extremely painful to shut.
Reminiscing about his first stint in instructional league in the fall of 1994, Booty recalled “playing at Dodgertown in the afternoon in front of zero people” and couldn’t help but be thinking “I could be lighting it up in Baton Rouge at Tiger Stadium.”
Still, Booty stayed committed to baseball through his the early part of his contract, offering stellar defense but struggling with consistently tapping into the raw power that had him ranked by BA as the No. 1 prep talent heading into his senior season of high school.
Separation from football wasn’t the only factor that challenged Booty during his professional baseball career. A multi-sport athlete who spent his amateur years in the pre-travel ball era, Booty’s first at-bats using wood bats came as a professional, something that would be unthinkable in today’s game.
Additionally, with the weight of both a record-setting signing bonus and accelerated timeline imposed by the organization, as well as personal expectations, Booty found himself aggressively pushing his development at a pace that he personally might not have been well-suited for.
In 1999, facing another season in the minors playing a game his heart wasn’t fully invested in anymore, Booty chose to head to LSU and give quarterback a try after 13 career MLB games.
With two decades having passed after his last professional AB, Booty now looks back thinking about his own expectations and desire to succeed sooner rather than later may have been a hindrance in achieving long-term success on the baseball diamond.
“Learn how to be a hitter, and don’t try to do too much,” Booty says when asked about what he’d tell his 18-year-old self. He continues: “I tried to do way, way too much.”
In Episode 3 of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’, 1994 Josh Booty discusses his unique professional story, detailing his time spent in professional baseball, SEC & NFL football, and even reality TV. He’ll break down his multi-sport amateur career, the weight of being a record-setting bonus baby, compare the lives of a 1st round MLB draftee and 6th round NFL draftee, and offer his thoughts on the future of multi-sport athletes.
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