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June 10, 2011

Friday 5: Josh Booty

The MLB Draft finished up earlier this week. Let’s reminisce…shall we?

Josh Booty was a “can’t miss” prospect that was drafted by the Florida Marlins with the fifth pick overall in 1994.

The next five years in the Minors would yield a lot of home runs, plenty of strikeouts and a career .198 batting average. He’d make it to the bigs though.  And while his Major League career might not have panned out the way many had hoped (30 plates appearances over three seasons), I’m pretty sure dude has more stories than many of us combined.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to catch up with the former two-sport star.

HOVG: Right out of the gate, I’ve gotta know…what does a 19-year-old do with a signing bonus (a reported $1.6 million) like the one you got?

BOOTY: I spent a lot of my bonus money on day-to-day stuff and a few nice things. No one in the Minors has money, so half your money goes to helping others and hanging out. You try to not live like a college kid.

HOVG: And a couple of years later, you found yourself in the Majors and, in 1997, the Florida Marlins won the World Series. You appeared in four games down the stretch for the fish. Did you get a ring and, if so, where is it now?

BOOTY: I did get a ring and I have a funny story about that. My good friend and eventual World Series champion Kevin Millar was wearing my ring at a Super Bowl Party at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans and lost it in a bathroom. He had asked to wear it because he was single at the time and was hoping to get the ladies to look at him. (Laughs)

HOVG: After your baseball career, you head to LSU to play football. In your two years there, you accomplished plenty, but, more importantly…did you hear any good Shaquille O’Neal stories that you can share? Any on-campus run-ins with the recently retired NBA superstar?

BOOTY: Shaq is a bud…a great guy that everyone loves. He used to come by my apartment in college and it scared my Jack Russell terrier to death when he walked in. My dog would bark non-stop. He has gotten me some great hoops tickets over the years and I remember going to an NBA Finals game in (Los Angeles) compliments of the Diesel.

HOVG: Which was harder to learn…playing baseball on a professional level or football?

BOOTY: Football is more mental…baseball is way more of a true grind. Baseball guys have no life because it is non-stop and the seasons are so long. Football guys get to do more things outside their sport.

HOVG: I know both of your brothers also made it to the NFL. That aside, do you find yourself paying more attention to football nowadays or baseball?

BOOTY: Football by far. I haven’t been to but one baseball game in last 10 years…I couldn’t live without football. All baseball players wish they could play football and love watching. No football players ever talk about baseball. Baseball is just boring to a certain degree.

HOVG: Lastly, a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and friend of mine, David Malamut, covers, of all things, the Kane County Cougars. You spent a season-and-a-half with Kane County…are there any Midwest League memories you can share?

BOOTY: Kane County. Wow. I actually liked playing there…I struck out a ton and hit some home runs. Does my single season home run record still stand? (Laughs)

Josh Booty’s tale is pretty well known.

He’s one of a long list of players to have been taken in both the MLB and NFL Draft…but only one of the few to have made it to the pros in both sports. Add to that wild SuperBowl parties, hanging with Shaq and a one-time marriage to “Price is Right” model Rachel Reynolds and you've got a life that reads like fiction.

I only hope that someday…I can hear more of his stories.