His teammates try their best to buffer him from the insults hurled in his direction. Less than a year out of the halfway house where he used to reside, it’s not uncommon for Texas Rangers relief pitcher Matt Bush to hear fans—strangers—shouting at him, bringing up the ugly incidents in his troubled past.
Already a key player in one of the American League’s most influential teams, Matt Bush has sworn to remain steady, focused, strong, and above all, sober—even in the face of boisterous fans, many of whom are inebriated themselves.
A Troubled Past
Thirty years old and a recovering alcoholic, Matt Bush is on his second and last chance in professional baseball. He’s also a convicted felon. Sentenced to 52 months in prison in December of 2012, Matt Bush was convicted of three felony charges as the result of an accident that occurred when he slipped away from spring training, drove drunk and crashed into a 72-year-old motorcyclist—knocking the latter off his bike and running over his head as he fled the scene of the accident.
The victim survived, but suffered significant injuries as a result, including a collapsed lung, brain hemorrhaging and eight broken vertebrae. The accident was actually Matt Bush’s second hit and run of the night, and the final straw in a series of ever-escalating alcoholic and depressive behaviors that led to his eventual conviction and prison time.
Starting Over in Sobriety
Today, Matt Bush has been sober for over four years, including the time he spent in prison and the time he spent working at a local Golden Coral restaurant for minimum wage while living in a halfway house following his sentence. But after sitting out of professional ball for four years, Matt Bush has blossomed into the most noteworthy comeback story in all of recent baseball memory.
Now pitching over 100 MPH, Bush has proved to be quite the saving grace for the Rangers’ bullpen since his return. In the nearly 17 innings since his arrival, he’s struck out 18 batters and walked only three.
Commitment to Improvement
Impressive numbers, and all accompanied by obvious dedication which has really caught the eye of his new teammates. Many of his teammates are now a central part of Matt’s support system as he continues to strive toward redemption and excellence, even in the face of those who seek only to remind him of his past transgressions.
Matt Bush, who reported having his first drink in junior high and becoming fully dependent on alcohol by the age of 21, now has a large network of both support and monitoring at home and on the road.
In the clubhouse, his teammates surround him. His father stays with him while the Rangers play at home. For away games, a special assistant has been assigned to stay in his room. He meets with the team manager once a week. He trains more than anyone else on the team.
He isn’t allowed to drive. Or to party. And if he has a single drink… it’s all over.
And yet despite everything that’s happened—the lessons he’s learned in the hardest of ways and the drastic changes he’s made—Matt Bush claims that he’s the happiest he can remember being in a long time. Having faced down his demons and been given a second chance at the sport he loves, he sees these opportunities as getting a chance to make amends for some of the pain he’s caused. And he doesn’t plan on wasting a moment of it.