This interview was originally published on The Bench and has been edited for content here at Full Spectrum Baseball.
Kent Bottenfield – former MLB pitcher
Kent Bottenfield played for nine years in the majors. He broke in with he Montreal Expos in 199 and finished with the Houston Astros in 2001. He best season came in 1999 in his second year with the Cardinals. Kent finished that year with a career high 18 wins, 124 strike outs and an All-Star game appearance. After retiring from Major League Baseball, Kent became a Christian Music recording artist and has released two CDs. In addition to he performing, Kent also travels the country speaking at various events.
Click here to read his career statistics.
Tim Danielson, Full Spectrum Bsaeball.com: Did you play other sports in High School or College?
Kent Bottenfield: I played Baseball, Basketball and Football in High School.
FSB.com: At what point or how did you know that pro baseball was the right sport for you?
KBottenfield: I was fortunate to have scholarship offers for all three sports but when it came down to it there was nothing like being on the mound for me. It was the greatest passion I’d had as a kid and it didn’t change when it came time to make a decision.
FSB.com: If not a pro baseball player, what would you have been and why?
KBottenfield: Football would have been my best opportunity next to baseball. I was a 6’3″ 250lbs as a senior with good hands and good speed. I was a tight end and defensive end and would have loved to play either in college. I loved to lift and train so the football type regimen would have fit me well. Couldn’t exactly work out the same way as a pitcher
FSB.com: What was your reaction the first time you saw yourself on a baseball card?
KBottenfield: It’s really a feeling of disbelief. I knew baseball cards to hold the pictures of heroes. I never felt that way about myself so it was quite a shock.
FSB.com: What is your most memorable or best pro baseball moment?
KBottenfield: My most memorable baseball moment would have to of been the 1999 all-star game. Most every kid dreams of playing in a world series or an all-star game. I never got to the series but the all-star game was beyond description. I got to be a part of the best of the best for a short time.
FSB.com: What was the one pitch you would like to have back? (least memorable moment)
KBotenfield: My first start after the all-star break was against the White Sox. I had two outs in the 5th inning (I believe) with a 4-0 lead and going for win number 15. The pitcher James Baldwin comes to the plate and hits a two strike triple down the right field line. The inning ended with me giving up five runs including a grand slam to Magglio Ordonez. There were a lot of pitches I’d of liked to have had back from that inning but the one to Baldwin started it.
FSB.com: What has been the best thing about playing for many different pro teams?
KBottenfield: I got to understand the rich history of many different cities and towns. Learn about the baseball moments that meant the most to those particular fans as a community.
FSB.com: What has the least desirable thing about playing for so many different pro teams?
KBottenfield: No doubt it’s the amount of moving. Your family having to leave good friends and make new ones in a short amount of time.
FSB.com: Was there any significance to your Jersey #?
KBottenfield: No significance to any of my numbers.
FSB.com: If you could play any other position besides pitcher, what would it be and why?
KBottenfield: I would love to play shortstop. The amount of action that takes place at that position is unbeatable.
FSB.com: Who was/is your most memorable “character” team mate and why?
KBottenfield: No doubt about it, Turk Wendell. His antics on the field could drive you nuts but he was probably my best friend on the Cubs. He was nothing off the field like he was on. He certainly had a lot of superstitions when it came to the game but away from it he was pretty much like anyone else.
FSB.com: Do you currently have anything you are doing with Major League Baseball?
KBottenfield: I am not involved with MLB at the moment. I do get asked to consult or scout from time to time.
FSB.com: Do you collect baseball cards or memorabilia? If so what?
KBottenfield: I have a collection of items I have from what I have deemed the best of the best. I certainly wouldn’t crack that lineup myself. It includes Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Unitas, Emmit Smith, Jeff Gordon, and countless baseball players.
FSB.com: In your career who was the toughest batter you had to face?
KBottenfield: Mike Piazza.
FSB.com: Was there a batter who you” had his number” so to speak?
KBottenfield: Rickey Henderson and Reggie Sanders would be the first two that come to mind.
FSB.com: In today’s game what pitcher do you feel is most like you in regards to style and how they pitch?
KBottenfield: I would say up until recently Jeff Suppan. He looks to have lost a little arm strength but he has survived for years on decent stuff and solid game plans.
FSB.com: How fast was your fastball?
KBottenfield: As a reliever for the Cubs it reached speeds of 96 mph. As a starter most of my career though it was 89-92.
FSB.com: What was your favorite baseball stadium to play in? Why?
KBottenfield: I loved Wrigley and Fenway. I am an old school guy at heart and you just couldn’t beat the history of those parks. Dodger stadium doesn’t lag too far behind.
FSB.com: Who was the best player you played with and against?
KBottenfiled: The best all around player I ever played with was Larry Walker. Jeff Bagwell ranks up there also. They are two of the smartest players I’ve ever seen to go along with ridiculous talent. A lot of people might disagree with me but those people didn’t get the opportunity to see them play every day. They were both amazing.
fan of the site HRHKINGJOE asks: What was is like for playing for both Tony Larussa & Dave Duncan? After playing for them would you like to manage? What one thing taken from them would you tell anyone that you might manage?
KBottenfield: I didn’t like Larussa at all when I played against him. He just gave off this smug attitude that I couldn’t stand. Ended up I misread him like a lot of people do. He is far from having that kind of attitude. I enjoyed playing for him immensely and have great respect for him and what he has accomplished. Dave Duncan is one of the most intuitive people I’ve ever been around. He can read hitters like no one I’ve ever known. He passed a lot of that on to me. I believe had it not been for my injury that started at the very end of the 99 season I could have taken what he taught me along with a few things I learned for myself and taken it to another level. Injury is part of the game though. I would be more interested in being a pitching coach. Patience with your players and consistency in your message to them.
fan of the site rpbluesman asks: “Back in the Game” was a great CD and I’m interested to know if you have plans to work on another album?
KBottenfield: I appreciate the kind words about Back In The Game. I would love to start work on another one but don’t have the finances to get it going right now. Not a lot of money to be made in christian music which is fine cause that’s not why I got into it in the first place.
fan of the site Loyalty32 asks: What was your favorite thing about playing with the Cubs?
KBottenfield: I loved all of the day games. I loved the smells of the stadium. Being surrounded by all that brick. The way that you never knew what the weather was going to do. I loved showing up to a 40 degree day in July. Wayne Messmer over the PA system and singing the anthem. The organ music. The public address system. And last but not
fan of the site dakiton asks: Did you have any pre or during game superstitions or rituals? Who was your favorite catcher?
KBottenfield: The last thing I would eat on the day of my start was a two piece KFC meal with mashed potatoes and coleslaw. I would wash it down with a grape Gatorade. This would all take place at 1:00 then I would take a nap until 3:30. I wouldn’t eat another thing until after the game. I found that combination of food and rest would have me feeling
my best for the game. I also made sure I got a lot of sleep 2 nights before my start. That seemed to be the most important for me. Eli Marrero was my favorite catcher.
fan of the site gngolfn2 asks: I would like to know about playing for the Cardinals in 1998. Were other players and teammates caught up in the historic home run chase?
KBottenfield: We were all totally caught up in the home run chase. I think it’s probably because Mark handled it in such a classy way. He never put himself above any of us. You want to root for a guy like that.
fan of the site ArodYanksFan asks: How do you feel about the money in baseball now being so large for certain players? Do you feel that it is hurting baseball? Back in 94 you were a young pitcher, what were your thoughts on the baseball strike?
KBottenfield: I don’t believe the game of baseball can exist in it’s current state for more than another few years. The next negotiation will be an interesting one. The reason you’ve seen so many regular season games played outside of the States is because baseball knows it has maximized it’s revenue potential here so they are going beyond our borders in search of more money. They may not say it but the world baseball tourney is just another step in making it palatable to the fans. There will be a world baseball league in the near future. I voted against the strike. I would have voted against any strike. The union has done some great things for players but I believe they have lost their way over the last 10 years. Both sides are to blame for all that’s happened to baseball. The leadership on both sides need to get over themselves and start working on what’s best for the fan. I don’t harbor any ill will toward those making a ton of money. That’s what the system allows right now. I just think the system needs to be changed because baseball is losing a generation of fans because it truly has become a game that only the rich can enjoy. They have lost the common man fan and millions of kids.