Barry Zito

Barry Zito

 After chasing baseball glory and all the spoils it can bring, Barry Zito discovered true fulfillment when he decided to relinquish control and let God guide the process.

   Barry Zito is a Cy Young Award winner and two-time World Series champion who pitched primarily for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants throughout his Major League Baseball career. After retiring from baseball, Barry settled in Nashville with his wife, Amber, and their two sons. Already well into his second career as a musician and songwriter, Zito recently released his debut EP, “No Secrets.”

   Growing up, Barry’s dad, Joe, was a talent manager who at one point was the bandleader for Nat King Cole. His mom pastored and cofounded a new age church. Joe could see early on that Barry was gifted at baseball. His grip on the curveball was unique. Most pitchers clamped down on it with their middle finger, but Barry used his index finger. Every day of the year, except sick days and holidays, Joe would spend two hours with Barry practicing his pitching.

“Dad spared no expense or energy to get the best of whatever I needed to improve at baseball,” recalls Barry. At a young age, Barry’s identity as a person was fused with his identity as a baseball player. Joe unknowingly cemented into Barry’s brain that he was only worthy of love and acceptance when he performed well on the mound. His self-worth became directly connected to his pitching performance. The talent manager side of Joe somehow along the way lost sight of where he ended and where Barry began. Barry’s career became Joe’s career too.

   In high school, as an escape from the pressure of sports, Barry began doing drugs. He smoked pot for the first time when he was fourteen and then progressed to LSD, mushrooms, cocaine, and even crystal meth.  He craved freedom outside his disciplined baseball life and began to hang out with the wrong crowd.

   Although his parents tried to keep him off drugs, Barry continued chasing the wrong things. He began stealing and vandalizing to fit in with what he considered the cool crowd. The spiritual belief (taught to him by his mother and grandmother) that he was ultimately responsible for his own success and happiness began to drive his ego.  His senior year of high school Joe figured out a way to separate Barry from the drug issues. He sent Barry to a Catholic school to be a part of their competitive baseball team. His plan worked. Barry stopped the drugs, partying, and running with the wrong crowd. In 1996, after graduation, Barry began his baseball career at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Although he performed well in baseball and had good friends his dad felt Santa Barbara wasn’t serving his career goals and eventually talked him into transferring to Pierce Junior College in L.A. It was in L.A. that the scouts came out in large groups to see Barry on the mound. At twenty years old, his name was called in the draft by the Texas Rangers. His dad ran the negotiations but could not agree on the money offered, so Barry did not sign that year. In 1999, he transferred to the University of Southern California (USC). During this time his mom became ill and was on the liver transplant list. When the pro draft came around again Barry was selected with the ninth pick by the Oakland A’s. They offered him $1.59 million as a signing bonus. All his dad’s years of planning and predictions had materialized. With some of the money Barry received from the signing bonus he was happy to help his parents, who had struggled financially for many years, pay off all their debt and then buy his dream car.


   In July of 2000, Barry was called up to the big leagues. He began to be aware of his importance and quickly got into a reckless pattern of behavior. Sex, partying, and TV attention would be his lifestyle for years.  “I slowly started losing touch with the real world. I was living in a fantasy where people were chanting my name on the field, and girls were fighting for my attention off the field,” recalls Barry.


   I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:3

   Barry Zito was one of baseball’s brightest stars, winning the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League in 2002. But his career suffered downturns, and after fifteen seasons in the Major League, he found himself at a very low point in life. The Giants had awarded him the largest contract in baseball history at the time, but fans thought it was a wasted investment, and in 2010 he was left off the Giants’ playoff roster. He watched as a spectator while his teammates won the World Series without him. Finally, his girlfriend told him to lock up all the self-help books he was reading and to open the Bible she gave him. Out of that experience, he came to faith in Christ.

   Recommended Reading: Psalm 18:1-3

   Life is hard, but sometimes the hardest places are turning points that lead us to faith in Christ or into a deeper walk with Him. God uses our difficult circumstances to bring Him glory.

   Learn to praise Him during times of difficulty; to turn problems into prayers, and to turn hardships into HalleluYahs. When life throws you a curveball, praise the Lord anyhow.

   God has a purpose for trials and testings.


Barry's Hearing His Voice Testimony

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