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Barry Zito

Former All-Star pitcher Barry Zito finds redemption on and off the field

The World Series, which begins this week, showcases the best players in baseball at the pinnacle of their careers. However, Barry Zito, a former All-Star pitcher, understands that along with fame and fortune comes incredible pressure to succeed.

“Being that there was no kind of steady rock outside of my own thoughts and my own willpower, life got pretty turbulent,” Zito said. “I think the whole reason why I had such a hard time in baseball was because baseball was my god in a lot of ways.

Zito recently released his memoir titled, Curveball: How I Discovered True Fulfillment After Chasing Fortune and Fame. The book goes into detail about how Zito came to faith in Christ during one of the lowest periods of his 15-season playing career

Zito enjoyed success at a young age as a member of the Oakland Athletics. Things took a turn for the worst after he became a free agent and signed a record contract with the San Francisco Giants for $126 million over seven years.

Zito said his ego took the biggest hit in 2010 when he was left off the Giants’ playoff roster despite his massive contract. He could only watch as a spectator as his teammates won the World Series that year without him.

“Sadly, a part of me was hoping they would lose because my ego was on death row,” he said of his emotions during the 2010 World Series. “My ego was kind of shattering and I thought my ego would be glorified if they could lose without me and I could say, ‘Well, maybe they needed Zito.’”

In his book, Zito reveals that he began attending a 12-step program for people with the desire to develop functional and healthy relationships called Co-Dependents Anonymous after he was left off the playoff roster.

“I think in this rock-bottom experience, it’s the most incredible place of power,” he said, “because you’re actually putting your ego aside and you’re willing to listen to what else is out there. You got to get to your knees, you gotta drop to your knees to really listen.

His girlfriend gave him a Bible and encouraged him to read it instead of the self-help books he surrounded himself with. “She said, ‘lock your books up, and just read this book,’” Zito recalled. “And she handed me a Bible.”

He soon started attending team Bible studies.

“I would just go and listen and three or four months later, it all just made sense to me,” Zito said. “And then I just gave my life to Christ in August of 2011 because it really just added up completely to me.”

He finally found redemption on the baseball field.

“I ended up going out in 2012 and pitching in these big games and helping the team win the World Series,” he said, “but if I cared about my approval ratings or that my value as a baseball player was riding on those games, I would have suffered miserably as I did for years.”

Today, Zito attends Journey Church in Nashville, where he is pursuing a music career.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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