Barry William Zito is an American former professional baseball pitcher and musician. He played 15 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. His pitching repertoire consisted of a curveball, a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a circle changeup and a cutter-slider. Take a look below for 32 more fun and interesting facts about Barry Zito.
1. Zito attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles Pierce College, and the University of Southern California.
2. Drafted three times while in college, Zito signed with the Athletics when they chose him in the first round of the 1999 MLB draft.
3. A year later, he was in the major leagues, finishing fifth in American League Rookie of the Year Award.
4. He struggled to begin the 2001 season but improved greatly down the stretch, finishing the year with an 11–1 win–loss record over his final two months.
5. He won 23 games, while only losing five, in 2002 and won the Cy Young Award. His record was only 14–12 in 2003, but he still made the All-Star team for the second year in a row.
6. In 2004, he had his worst season at the time, going 11–11 with a career-high 4.48 earned run average. He became Oakland’s Opening Day starter in 2005 and finished fifth in the AL with 171 strikeouts.
7. In 2006, he made the All-Star team and posted a 15–1 record when receiving two or more runs of support.
8. Following his seventh season with the Athletics, Zito signed a seven-year deal with the Giants in December 2006. At the time, it was the largest contract ever given to a pitcher.
9. He posted double-digit wins in his first three seasons, and in 2010 he helped San Francisco win their first championship since 1954. However, he struggled the last month of the season and he was left off the postseason roster.
10. After sitting out much of the 2011 season with a foot and ankle injury, he came back in 2012 and flourished, finishing with a 15–8 record, his best season in a Giants uniform.
11. The same October, Zito helped lead the Giants to their second World Series title in San Francisco history by going 2–0 with a 1.69 ERA in three postseason starts.
12. In his first career World Series start, he out-dueled Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander in Game 1, setting the stage for San Francisco’s sweep to their seventh World Series title in franchise history.
13. Zito struggled in 2013 but received a standing ovation from the fans in his final appearance as a Giant. Following the year, he became a free agent.
14. Zito, a philanthropist, founded Strikeouts For Troops, a national non-profit that provides comforts of home and lifts the spirits and morale of injured troops as well as offering support to military families.
15. Zito was born May 13, 1978, in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Roberta and Joe Zito.
16. His parents were a show business couple working for singer and pianist Nat King Cole and he had two sisters who were 9 and 13 years older than Barry.
17. His family moved to San Diego, California, to help him concentrate on his baseball career, after he showed signs of promise from a very young age. His father, not knowing much about baseball, began reading books about pitching strategy and even stopped working to help coach his son.
18. At the age of 12, Randy Jones, a former Cy Young Award winner, was hired by his father to give him lessons at $50 an hour.
19. He transferred from El Cajon’s Grossmont High School, where he was the star pitcher, to University of San Diego High School, a Roman Catholic private school for his senior year. Zito received many league honors there, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.92 ERA, while racking up 105 strikeouts in just 85 innings.
20. Zito then attended UC Santa Barbara where he earned Freshman All-America Honors with 125 strikeouts in 85⅓ innings.
21. In his sophomore season, Zito transferred to Los Angeles Pierce College so that he could be eligible for the Major League Baseball draft. At Pierce, he posted a 2.62 earned run average (ERA), went 9–2 with 135 strikeouts in 103 innings, and was named to the all-state and all-conference teams.
22. He then transferred to the University of Southern California, where he was a first-team All-America selected by USA Today Baseball Weekly, Collegiate Baseball, and Baseball America.
23. With a 12–3 record, a 3.28 ERA, and 154 strikeouts in 113⅔ innings, Zito was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year.
24. Zito also played in the Cape Cod Baseball League, a summer wooden bat league which showcases the nation’s top amateur prospects. He led the Wareham Gatemen to the league championship in 1997, and a runner-up finish in 1998.
25. Zito started playing guitar in 1999 as a way to pass time on road trips. He had not considered music as a profession until his sister, Sally Zito, asked him to play guitar in her country band with which he played during the off-season from 2002 to 2007.
26. His 2015 comeback bid found him playing the majority of the season in Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music. He used his time off to learn from the city’s music industry professionals and to pursue songwriting.
27. Zito released his first EP, titled No Secrets, on January 27, 2017. The collection contains six songs either written or co-written by Zito.
28. Zito became engaged to former Miss Missouri Amber Seyer in April 2011, and they were married on December 3, 2011.
29. His father, Joe Zito, who died June 19, 2013, at the age of 84, composed and arranged music for Nat King Cole in the early 1960s and arranged for the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.
30. Zito and wife Amber gave birth to their first child, a son named Mars, in July 2014. They adopted their second child, a son named Mercer Joseph Zito, in May 2017.
31. Zito is known for his idiosyncrasies and his offbeat personality. Early in his career, Zito dyed his hair blue.
32. He earned the nicknames “Planet Zito” and “Captain Quirk” when with Oakland.