Former Louisiana State University quarterback Josh Booty, who has spent time with both a MLB and NFL organization, will take one last stab at the big leagues with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Does the 37-year-old have a shot at making the team’s Opening Day roster?
Booty was selected by what was then the Florida Marlins in the 1994 MLB Draft. He spent five years with the organization, and appeared in 13 games in the big leagues over a three-year span. Booty had a .269 career batting average with four RBIs and nine strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. Even though he was a member of the 1997 World Series Championship team and even has a ring to prove it, Booty missed the gridiron and wanted to test his luck with football.
In two seasons at LSU, he tossed 3,951 passing yards and 24 touchdowns, while completing 49.3 percent of his passes. In his sophomore year, he became the first LSU quarterback since Tommy Hodson to be named to the first team All-SEC Team. After the season, Booty decided it was time to try and make it in another professional sport.
The Mississippi native was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He joined a quarterback class that included Super Bowl winner Drew Brees, Michael Vick and Sage Rosenfels among others. Booty was placed on Seattle’s practice squad in 2001, clinched a spot as the backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2003, and finished his career on the Oakland Raiders practice squad in 2007 without ever taking a snap in a regular season game in his four-year NFL career.
Booty recently found himself on a reality television show called “The Next Knuckler”, which was presented by MLB in compliance with the Diamondbacks. Arizona agreed that the winner of the show would get a roster spot in Spring Training with a legitimate shot at the 25-man roster. Booty just so happened to beat out his brother, former USC quarterback John David Booty, Doug Flutie and David Greene among others. Now, he has the opportunity to make one lasting impression on the sports world.
“It’s kind of writing the last chapter,” he said.
Booty learned how to throw a knuckleball from none other than Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough, and Tom Candiotti. He will use his raw athletic ability, recently obtained knowledge, and strong desire to take another stab at professional baseball as his motivation to force Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson to find a spot for him on the team.
Just because he was never thought of as a pitcher and he just learned how to throw a knuckleball this past winter, does not mean he is incapable of proving his usefulness. Candiotti claims that Booty has a good knuckleball, and that his 90 mph fastball is legitimate.
“When you get to know the guy,” Candiotti said, “you’re really going to root for him.”
Gibson refuses to look at this as a publicity stunt for Major League Baseball, and has every intention of breaking down Booty’s performance to see if the pitcher can make a difference for the team.
“We don’t want to put him out there as some gimmick,” Gibson said. “My job is to give him an opportunity to show what he can do.”
Whether Booty has what it takes to be a member of the Diamondbacks when they break for the regular season is unknown, especially since the team already has a decent group of relievers. However, the fact that this opportunity has presented itself is good enough for Booty, who is determined to make the most of it and leave everything he has left in camp.