In 1994, Josh Booty was one of the most coveted high school athletes in the country. He was a star in football and in baseball, and everyone was anxious to see what sport he would choose. It was settled when the Florida Marlins took him with the 5th overall pick in the first round of that year’s MLB draft and signed him to a contract.
Booty, a third baseman, showed great power during his time in the minor leagues, but not enough plate discipline. He had 62 home runs in 478 games, but hit only a combined .198 and struck out in nearly a third of his at bats. The Marlins kept aggressively pushing him through their system, calling him up for brief stints during the 1996-1998 seasons. In 13 career major league games, he collected 7 hits and 4 RBI in 30 at bats, but was never given any extended opportunity.
Following the 1998 baseball season, Booty decided to return to football. He enrolled at LSU under coach Nick Saban and became the team’s starting quarterback, showing a big arm and production. In 2001 he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the 6th round. He was with the Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, and Oakland Raiders for parts of four seasons, but never got into a game, and ended up retiring from the NFL in 2007.
Today, Booty leads a busy life. In addition to his family, he has been extremely active in charitable work, worked as a sports commentator, and started his own sports performance and nutrition company called Atleta (http://atletanutrition.com), currently serving as their vice president. Despite his busy schedule, I was recently able to catch up with him and ask him some questions about his baseball career.
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up?
The New York Yankees and Will Clark.
How did you know the Marlins were interested in drafting you?
Gary Hughes, the Head of Scouting for Florida, took a real interest in me, so I knew If I was still around for the fifth pick that they were going to draft me.
How did the Marlins recruit you to give up football for baseball?
Money and big league call ups.
Who was your most influential baseball coach or manager?
Tony Taylor, infield instructor, ex major leaguer, great guy and wonderful coach.
What was your favorite moment from your baseball career?
Big league debut. I singled in my first at bat.
What do you remember most from your stints in the majors leagues?
World Series year in 1997.
How much pressure did you feel during your minor league career from being such a highly regarded prospect and how did that impact you?
I tried to do too much, and wanted to set the world on fire with my bat, and wasn’t patient enough for the sport
If you could do anything differently about your baseball career, what would that be?
Give it more of a chance. I laid it down to go play football, which I loved.