Jet Butler: Born To Play Baseball

I guess you could say it was almost ordained that Mississippi State second baseman Jet Butler would not only be a baseball player but a baseball player that would eventually play for MSU head coach John Cohen.

"They said when I came home from the hospital they had some toys and would put a bat in my hand," said Jet. "And dad would switch it over from hand to hand every time I would take a swing. I would swing one way, then swing the other way."

His dad, Skip Butler, who played college baseball at Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, saw early on his son's love for the game of baseball.

"It's something he's always had a passion for since he was a tiny kid," said Skip. "He would sit in front of the tv and watch baseball games intently just like it was cartoons and he would usually have a ball in his hands. He never wanted to play with trucks, never wanted to play with cars or building blocks. He always wanted a ball."

And the more he played, the greater his passion for the game grew.

"When others wanted to be a fireman, a cowboy or whatever, all I wanted to do was play baseball," said Jet. "I just love the game."

And his parents made sure he was given that oppprtunity.

"I remember my mom (Karen Butler) would pick me up at school and she drove me straight to the field where my dad would be," said Jet. "He used to throw me about 200 pitches a day. He did that from the time I was about 8 all the way up to high school."

And usually his mom joined in.

"My mom would even take throws or soft toss," explained Jet. "It would just be a family outing for us a lot of times."

A family outing that extended beyond just practices.

"I don't think there has ever been a game that my dad didn't go to, and I'm talking about all over the country," said Jet, who can see his parents each and every game at Mississippi State sitting in section 9 of the box seats directly behind home plate. " And my mom, too. There has never been a game that my (older) sister (who finished playing her college softball at Southern Miss in 2006) and I played that one of them wasn't there. A lot of times we played on the same night, so they had to split up where one went to one place and the other one went to the other.

"It's pretty awesome to have them at my games. I appreciate that a lot."

And to this day, the heavy traveling by his parents continues, although his mom is usually behind the steering wheel these days.

"It's unbelievable what my mom does," noted Jet. "She bought a truck the Christmas before my freshman season and in one year she put 100,000 miles on it. And she drove every one of them.

"My mom would do anything for me. For 12 years she drove me 35 minutes each day to the school that they wanted me to go to. She drove over two hours a day doing that. She's just a great mom and an incredible person. I love her to death."

Skip, who also coached Jet for a number of years prior to high school ball, explained the reasoning behind the extensive travel.

"We made a commitment to be full-time parents before either one of them were born," he said. "And we have been fortunate and blessed to be able to do that. We obviously look after our business and are grateful for our business because it allows us to do what we do, but we have always been on the same page as a husband and wife when it comes to being full-time parents first."

And it's not an easy thing to do even when you have the financial resources. But when you have two people on the same page things have a way of working out.

"During the season, we are usually only in town Mondays and Thursdays," said Skip. "We get back in from the weekend series late Sunday night. We are home all day Monday, then we leave Tuesday morning, come back home after the game Wednesday night, are here all day Thursday, then leave Friday morning for wherever the weekend series is.

"When we are driving I can actually conduct business on the road with my phone and sleep because she's driving. Then, she can sleep late Monday if she needs to. There are a lot of people who don't have a wife that is as committed as she is. She's an absolute trooper and she has always been extremely dedicated and devoted to our kids."

While it's obvious Skip and Karen have been extremely dedicated to Jet, Jet's sister, Charity, has also meant a great deal to him even though she's had very few chances to see him play in person.

"We used to spend afternoons hitting together," said Jet, of his sister Charity who was a two-time All-American at Southern Miss. "We would help each other out with our swings. My sister is probably one of the hardest working people that I have ever seen and she is a phenomenal person who I learned a lot from."

While his sister's guidance with hitting has helped him, his dad has also played a huge part in the type player that he is today.

"My dad and I spent so much time together and he was always there supporting me," said Jet. "He's tough on me and he's very honest with me all the time."

An example of that toughness and honestly came the night Jet hit a walk-off home run to give Mississippi State a 9-7 victory over North Florida earlier this season.

"The night I hit the walk-off home run, the first thing he said to me - and remember the night before I had struck out to end the game - 'why didn't you do that the night before," said Jet with a laugh. "I know that's just his way of being supportive because he expects a lot out of me. But nobody expects more from me than I do of myself."

And having a dad that is so tough and honest probably prepared Jet to play for one of the most intense coaches in all of collegiate baseball - John Cohen.

"Playing for my dad for so many years probably has helped me prepare to play for Coach (Cohen) because Coach is pretty intense, too," said Jet. "Obviously I am a pretty competitive person, and I really enjoy the style of baseball that we play under Coach. We just don't quit."

A style that is not only intense but also allows for a lot of freedom, especially when it comes to hitting.

"Offensively, we really worked hard on our swings in the fall and in the early spring," said Jet. "One thing that we have really worked hard on is freedom with our hitting stride and load. Each player has his own unique abilities and (Cohen) allows each player to use those abilities within the system. Coach does a really good job of helping us out by freeing us to hit and not think about anything else. That way, when you are in the box, you are ready to hit."

Cohen has also brought a we-will-be-the-best attitude that has been very contagious among the players.

"As soon as (Cohen) got the job he called us, and as we got to know him through the summer, we became really excited and felt that we had a chance to have a special year and just get better," said Jet.

And so far, so good.

"I'm happy about where we are headed," said Jet. "But I want to get back to Omaha and finish what we started there. I want to win a national championship. A goal under that would be to win the SEC."

But it's not just about winning with Cohen and his players. How the program is conducted off the field is also very important.

"The coaches always tell us to do things first-class," said Jet Butler. "And we always try to do that, thanking people and doing the little things because we want to be a first-class organization. We delivered the (season) tickets (to people in Starkville). I thought that was a great idea and everybody (on the team) loved doing that.

"We want to treat the community really well because we have great fans who support us so well."

And in Jet's case, a very, very supportive family.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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