Bottenfield Throwing A Different Pitch

Kent Bottenfield spent nine seasons in the majors, playing for eight different teams. Now, he's celebrating life after baseball with a new career in the music industry. He's currently finishing his second Christian music CD and is finding life in this field different, but certainly fulfilling.

At about the age of ten, a friend of Kent Bottenfield's brother was drafted by a major league team. That same day, Bottenfield told his brother that someday, that would be him getting drafted. It came true. At about the age of 22, while still pitching in the minor leagues, Bottenfield was at a Michael W. Smith concert and told his then fiance that someday, that would be him on a stage singing Christian music. It came true. Whether it's determination, premonition or something else, Kent Bottenfield has always seen his path ahead of him.

After being drafted by the Expos in the fourth round of the 1986 Draft, Bottenfield embarked on a climb that would take him to the majors with Montreal six years later. From there, it was a whirlwind; Colorado, San Francisco, back to Colorado, two seasons with the Cubs, then onto St. Louis, Philadelphia, Anaheim and Houston. When all was said and done, Bottenfield had seen and done a lot in the majors. Looking back now, Chicago and St.Louis stand out. "My career was sort of rejuvenated with the Cubs and I'll always remember that," said Bottenfield. It was in Chicago that he was converted to being a reliever and figured that he had truly found his calling. Then, when he arrived in St.Louis, the Cardinals wanted him to return to being a starting pitcher. "I told them that I didn't want to do that, but eventually, they just said, 'you're doing it', so there I was," laughed the former major leaguer. Again, Bottenfield found rejuvenation under pitching coach Dave Duncan. "He (Duncan) really molded me," said a grateful Bottenfield. Actually, Bottenfield credits his '95 season - spent in Toledo as a member of the Tigers AAA club - with turning his career around. "They had a pitching coach named Jerry Adair, who really taught me the mental side of the game. That was a big part of the learning process for me," said Bottenfield.

Toward the end of his career, Bottenfield wound up in Philadelphia, albeit for a short time. "The thing I remember best about that team was how supportive they all were. We went into St.Louis and I was throwing a shutout against the Cardinals and everybody was pulling for me. They all knew how much it meant and you would have thought I had been their teammate for years," remembered Bottenfield. While it may not be what Phillies fans want to hear, Bottenfield credits Scott Rolen as being his best friend on that team. "Scott was super. He was supportive and understood where I was at in my career and was great to be around," said Bottenfield. The former Phillie also credits Terry Francona for how he kept that team together. "I just love the guy," said Bottenfield. "To be honest though, I didn't think he was the right guy for the job in Boston, but he proved me and a lot of other people wrong."

Throughout his career, Bottenfield carried a keyboard with him on road trips and would play in his hotel room, using headphones to keep from disturbing others. He had always loved music and sang in church a lot as a kid, often times as a soloist, which he didn't really want to do. "That was my Mom. She pushed me to do that, I was happy just to blend in and now, here I am on a stage." Other than that, singing was limited to those times alone in the car or the shower. Even after his prophetic announcement at that Michael W. Smith concert, Bottenfield sort of kept his music - and his faith - to himself. "In the clubhouse, guys don't listen to you, they watch how you live. I was always open to talk about my faith if someone wanted to hear about it, but I really tried to show how I felt through how I lived my life. Other players saw that and they also saw that I screwed up here and there, but I always tried to live right," remembers Bottenfield. "I just was never the kind to beat people over the head with my Christianity." Throughout the good and bad times of his career though, Bottenfield relied heavily on his faith. "I don't know how a player makes it through a career in the majors without something to lean on," said Bottenfield of relying on his faith.

Now, Bottenfield is in a whole new realm. He's somewhat of a rookie in a world that he believes sometimes takes itself too seriously. "In the majors, I played at the highest level of competition for that sport, or that world. Too many people in the Christian music industry take themselves too seriously. This is an industry that perceives itself as being better than it is," believes Bottenfield. "Don't get me wrong, because there are a lot of very good musicians, singers and people in Christian music today, but many of them just aren't as good as a lot of the people in the secular world, but they insist that they're better. That's not what it's supposed to be all about." Bottenfield doesn't allow himself to get caught up in the rat race of the music industry. "I'm not in this for the money and I don't feel that I have anything to prove. I don't need music for a living, but I enjoy this and I want to do this. Above all though, I just want to be who I am," said Bottenfield of his newfound career.

His first CD, Take Me Back, received very good critical reviews. He's finishing up his second CD now, as well as running his own record label and helping his first young singer. "This is all pretty new to me, but it's something that I believe in. We didn't spare anything production wise in making the first CD and we're taking the same approach on this one." In fact, well known record producer Michael Omartian helped produce Bottenfield's first  CD. For Bottenfield, the pitch these days is all about being himself. He's working on his career, running a record label and helping young artists to spread their faith and reach others. He's also fighting to overcome the obstacles of being a former athlete. "People remember Carl Lewis doing the National Anthem and have a bad reaction when they hear about a former athlete singing," laughed Bottenfield. "It really is a serious obstacle."

With the success and great sound of his first CD, Bottenfield has made a tremendous stride in overcoming the athlete / singer obstacle. Now, he just has to continue doing what he loves and being himself and it should all fall into place.


Northsiders Report Top Stories