One of baseball's most charismatic characters is the Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. But in the 1990s, there was another Jose Bautista. This Bautista was a journeyman reliever who played for 11 seasons (including two with the Chicago Cubs), and his journey led him to be one of the winningest Jewish pitchers of all-time.
Bautista was born in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican father and Russian-Jewish mother. He has remained in baseball since his playing days as a coach within the White Sox organization. I asked him about his playing days and life as a coach.
You were a relief pitcher during your career. What is the biggest challenge of being a relief pitcher?
You need to be ready every day. But for me that was fun because I love baseball. I always felt that playing baseball didn't really feel like a job. I always loved the game of baseball and felt lucky that I was the one from my family that got to play in the big leagues.
You were a bit of a journeyman and specialist in the Majors. Which team did you enjoy playing for the most?
The team I was most comfortable playing for was the Cubs. I did well in Chicago. I loved the Cub fans and the field. Those were my best years.
What have you been up to since your playing days?
I live in Florida and have all of my life. I have worked for the White Sox the last eight years and I am now able to move up to work with the Barons. I am happy to be with the Barons and excited to work with the team.
Do you enjoy coaching?
I love the chance to work with the kids. Six or seven of these guys I have worked with before and I want to help them get ready. We will have some interesting free agents as well. My job is to get them to the Majors as fast as possible.
Any desire to work with Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic?
I was asked to work with Team Israel, but I was not going to be in town when they were in Brooklyn. But I would love to go to Israel and someday work with Team Israel.
What is Jewish life like for you?
I keep a kosher home. My wife is Jewish too. I try to act like my mom taught me.
Thanks to Bautista for his time. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does in Birmingham in the 2017 season.