Broussard enjoying life on different stage
Musical career taking off for former big leaguer
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ben Broussard stood about 35 feet from the stage at The Venue in Scottsdale during Tuesday's night's rehearsal for Jake Peavy's Woodjock 2010 charity concert.
And there was White Sox reliever Scott Linebrink situated next to Broussard, guitar in hand, waiting to take his turn to work through a number or two. The only problem was that this makeshift band of baseball All-Stars, made up of Bronson Arroyo on vocals, Brandon Medders on lead guitar, Bernie Williams on backup lead guitar and Barry Zito on drums, couldn't quite get what they wanted out of the particular tune.
It was at that point, during the fourth or fifth time through on this song, when Broussard combined the wisdom of baseball and the wisdom of rock-and-roll into one astute statement. Sort of like Yogi Berra meets Bruce Springsteen.
"When you make a mistake on stage, it's harder to notice," said Broussard with a broad smile. "When you make a mistake on the baseball field and cost your team the game, then you know people are going to be waiting around your locker, ready to ask you about what happened."
Linebrink nodded his head in agreement, understanding Broussard now ranks as a solid source to make such a comparison.
Following a seven-year big league career ending with a Spring Training non-roster invite to White Sox camp in 2009, Broussard left the game and moved full-force into his music. Broussard lives in Austin, Texas, and plays clubs in that area, including a performance at a place called Momo's set for this Saturday, but also has gone a bit national with his performing skills.
From Oct. 13-15, Broussard opened for Blood, Sweat & Tears and played his original songs. Granted, Blood, Sweat & Tears is not exactly on the same popularity scale as the Black Eyed Peas in 2010, but this opportunity allowed the former first baseman, designated hitter and sometimes outfielder to strum the guitar at Tarrytown Music Hall in New York and at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston before sold-out crowds.
Broussard was able to mix baseball stories with his on-stage talent at Berklee, drawing in deeper the audience of close to 1,200.
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"Then, in my next at-bat, he throws the first pitch at my head followed by three straight curveballs, striking me out, and he stares me down as I walk back to the dugout," said Broussard with a laugh. "I'm able to tell everyone, I was living on a roller coaster. I wrote these songs during that roller coaster.
"Fans were automatically drawn to what I was talking about. I don't know how it will come out, but right now, I'm just going with it."
The 2009 season actually encompassed seven games and 23 at-bats for Broussard at Triple-A Charlotte, after the White Sox reassigned the veteran during Spring Training. Playing in the Minors at 32 didn't exactly serve as the fulfillment of his life's goal, not after posting four straight seasons of double-digit home runs for Cleveland and Seattle from 2003-06.
So, he returned home to become a full-time dad and musician. Broussard got hooked up with Woodjock, benefitting the Jake Peavy Foundation, which raises funds for Team Focus, Strikeouts for Troops, Autism Speaks and White Sox Charities, through his days from playing against the pitcher, as well as getting to know Linebrink during his time with the White Sox.
"I'm always looking for opportunities with Major League Baseball, that history I have there," said Broussard of his Woodjock addition. "Then, with the music and the charity parts, I was all about being involved."
When asked to compare his musical style to a more established individual or group, Broussard mentioned the Dave Matthews genre. Broussard paused for a moment, and then slightly altered his answer.
"Hopefully, it sounds like Ben Broussard," Broussard said. "I'm still in the process of getting everything organized with the overall vision."
That vision can be viewed on Broussard's Web site, which includes a section for his original CD, Renovated. He'll be playing some of those songs during Woodjock, with the only difference between Broussard and Peavy or Arroyo being that Broussard doesn't have to get up and go to the baseball field on Friday morning.
Leaving baseball is not a decision Broussard regrets. In fact, his days on the diamond prepared him for this next career move.
"I miss the competitiveness of baseball, but it's nice to do something where people are there to experience a part of you, something you wrote," Broussard said. "It's not competitive, just baring your soul to whoever is listening. Hopefully, they can grab something out of it.
"Having that opportunity to play baseball and experience things I got to experience was a blessing. Now, with the music, I can really focus on what I'm trying to let out. I'm not so worried about being famous. I can cut my own path."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.