Exclusive interview with former Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Barry Zito #75 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Barry Zito #75 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Golden Gate Sports teamed up with former Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito to talk about his life after baseball and energy conservation.

In honor of Earth Day, former Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito partnered up with Energy Upgrade California to bring fans an “energy efficient” national anthem ahead of the team’s Monday night game against the Texas Rangers.

Not only was the game a success as the A’s pulled off a 6-1 victory against their divisional foes, but Zito delivered a wonderful rendition of the national anthem and conserved a little energy in the process.

Zito — the 2002 Cy Young Award winner — played eight total seasons with the A’s, beginning his career in Oakland back in 2000. He then headed across the bay to San Francisco where he played with the Giants for seven seasons before finishing his career where it started in 2015.

Through his 15-year career, Zito finished with a 4.04 career ERA, 1,885 strikeouts, and was selected to three All-Star games, all as a member of the Athletics.

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Zito was gracious enough to sit down and chat with us here at Golden Gate Sports to talk about his life after baseball and the importance of energy conservation in California. Special thanks to Zito and Energy Upgrade California for taking the time to do this interview.

With that, let’s jump right into the interview from the words of the master of the curveball himself.

Life After Baseball

JF: Obviously you were a very prolific pitcher in your day, but what many people likely do not know is that you are now a full-time musician. You also have a book coming out (“Curveball”) later in the year. Tell me a little about your life after baseball and what you’ve been up to.

BZ: I just feel fortunate to be able to transition into something new. I have a lot of friends who’ve been searching for something to dive into full-time since they retired and obviously they’re doing well financially, but I think there’s nothing like the present moment. Just having something to start all over again with a new career with people in Nashville that are at the top of their field. Some of the top songwriters in the world are writing songs every day in Nashville, it’s definitely quite humbling but also really exciting at the same time.

JF: You’re absolutely right. Not many people get to pursue two different careers in their lives, especially two careers they’re very passionate about so that’s awesome man.

BZ: Yeah it’s really cool to have these sort of two separate lives where in Nashville, people know I was a ballplayer but they don’t really care. It’s more about what I could bring to the table musically. And then I come back to the Bay Area and it’s like ‘oh yeah that’s right I was a baseball player.’ It’s cool coming back to the Bay Area because all those warm and fuzzy feelings are just waiting for me here.

JF: You kind of have like two different claims to fame depending on where you are then, that’s great!

BZ: Well not too much fame yet here in Nashville but we’re getting there!

“Unplugged” National Anthem

JF: So later on tonight you’ll be teaming up with Energy Upgrade California to “unplug” the national anthem ahead of the Athletics games. They’ll be shutting down the LED screens, unplugging the microphones, and everything. In your own words, how could a seemingly small action like this lead to much larger accomplishments down the line?

BZ: I think we’re just trying to inspire people to keep California “golden.” It’s such a beautiful state from the southern California border, which is where I was raised in San Diego, all the way through the Redwoods. Really on both sides of California, whether it’s Big Sur of San Gabriel Valley, there’s just so much beauty here. So we’re just inspiring people to do little, tiny things that probably wouldn’t impact their lives in a major way but would probably impact the state’s energy in huge ways. I’ve done things even in my home like changing out lightbulbs to LED bulbs or washing my clothes in cold water. It’s these little tiny things that would add up and have a huge impact on the state. I think that’s the beauty of California as they always seem to be on the leading edge of making people aware of their impact on the environment.

*Here is some footage from the actual national anthem presentation*

California Energy Conservation

JF: You mentioned keeping California “golden” and I love that line. Of course, California has dealt with its fair share of energy conservation issues over the recent years. In your opinion, what role to local Californians play in using energy wisely?

BZ: I think it’s everything, the citizens here are really the ones who fly the flag. As I said, California is usually on the leading edge so if the people can really buy into it and understand that we are all responsible for this in our own way then we could make an impact and inspire other states and other parts of the country. It could really become this grassroots movement when you start to look at how we’re affecting the grid with all of our actions individually. I think kind of a groundswell could be created.

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JF: That’s great and I agree! But people could be really stubborn sometimes. What would you say to encourage residents to try and live their lives “unplugged” whenever possible?

BZ: I would just say that we’re taking responsibility for the future. I have two children and I think people, especially with children, are probably going to be more inclined to make a change because we’re trying to create sustainability in our world for our kids and for our grandkids. That really hits home when you see your next of kin running around and you wonder what the world is going to be like in 30-50 years when they’re my age. And so I know people are stubborn and it’s not easy to change people but I think that when you make people aware of these things and you start to let them know just what small changes on a systemic level could do, it could have a significant impact. If everyone changed two or three lightbulbs that would have a huge impact over a year in our state.

JF: Exactly, it’s a mindset. If people understood that if they changed the two or three lightbulbs and just took that idea and ran with it. And if everyone had that mindset, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, it wouldn’t be an issue.

BZ: That’s right man and it takes a while to create change but look at other areas where we’ve made change. Look at the fuel side of things, how much more fuel efficient cars are now. That didn’t happen overnight, but I think if we could just continue to educate people then people will get on board and we could change their hearts.

Oakland Athletics or San Francisco Giants?

JF: And lastly before I let you go. Golden Gate Sports is a Bay Area sports site so we cover all local Bay Area sports teams including both the A’s and the Giants. You happened to have lengthy careers with both of those teams so I have to ask, who do you root for when they play each other?

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BZ: You know it’s funny, I have a soft spot for both of them and I think I literally split time almost dead even between the two teams. They both kind of represent different parts of my life. I think being an Oakland A was just coming up, being good at baseball, and being young and dumb, I didn’t really know what was going on. And then the Giants years was me growing up and becoming a man, starting to understand what Major League Baseball was all about from the business side of things. But I just can’t pick one honestly, they both equally touched my heart. A lot of times I’ll pick players or coaches out that I know personally and root for them. At the end of the day, baseball is just so competitive and unpredictable so it’s hard to be let down.

JF: Of course I understand, you have to be right down the middle. It’s like before you said you had two children. You can’t necessarily pick a favorite because you love them both, just in different ways.

BZ: Yeah, I think it’s just the competition man. I just love seeing people compete, it’s not even about the wins. As a fan, it’s probably more about winning but as a player, you just get so detached from the results because you just can’t define yourself by that. It’s more about the guys going out there and trying their best.

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JF: Absolutely, that’s what it’s all about! Alright, Barry, I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview.

BZ: Absolutely and thank you!