Field of dreams

By Staff
Brewer grad living his major league dream
Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
He's living his lifelong dream of playing in the majors. Despite the bright lights and notoriety that comes along with the big leagues, he's still just a humble boy from the country. The money that the major leagues have to offer doesn't impress Brewer High School graduate Gary Knotts.
"I'm not a materialist person," Knotts said. "I make some money, but I try to help other people with it. If I see a friend in financial trouble, I'll help them out. If I see a ministry for Jesus that needs money, I'll donate it. I'm not into owning things-I didn't even buy a new car after making the majors. I own a used car, it's good enough."
Knotts, now 27 years old, had a long wait to his dream of playing major league ball realized. He was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1996. Knotts started out in rookie ball that year and moved to class A ball in 1997.
It was 1999 before he was promoted to Class AA and stayed there two more seasons. In spite of the slow climb, Knotts remained optimistic that he would play in the majors.
"I always had hope to get there," Knotts said. "It's a dream of every kid who
plays little league to get to the majors. I just never gave up hope, but it did seem a long time coming."
Then finally at the end of the 2001 season he put on a major league uniform for the first time.
He threw six innings in two appearances as a relief pitcher for Florida.
Knotts remained with the Marlins in 2002 and threw only 30 innings the entire season.
After a trade to the Tigers in the spring of 2003, Knotts finally had a chance to move out of the bullpen and become a starting pitcher.
He made 18 starts and suffered through a 3-8 year on the mound.
This season the story has been different as Knotts has a 4-2 record in eight starting assignments. Knotts thinks he can pinpoint the reason for the improved record.
"I was a two-pitch pitcher when I came up," Knotts said. "I can throw four pitches effectively now. I have a sinker and a changeup to go with a fastball and a curveball."
"You face great hitters every time you take the mound in the bigs," Knotts said. "You can't get by with only two pitches up here like you can in the minor leagues."
Knotts, who has been married to his college sweetheart Amanda for five years, takes his wife on some of the Tigers' road trips.
Knotts occupies his time on the road with bible study, watching movies and looking for the best restaurants in each city the Tigers visit.
He says he likes the travel, but loves to come back to his home state.
"I love the southern hospitality in Morgan County," Knotts said. "It's fun to travel from city to city, but I love to go back home. Sweet home Alabama-that's my favorite place to be."
Knotts credits his high school coach Jerry Childers with helping him achieve his major league dream.
"Coach Childers taught me how to believe in my ability," Knotts said. "He gave you a lot of self confidence. He wasn't a yeller or a screamer. He was always there clapping his hands and encouraging you no matter what. You knew he was right behind you."
Knotts, who has a year-to-year contract with the Tigers, is setting both short and long-term goals for his career.
"I want to win 15 games this season," Knotts said. "That would be a great season for me. Long range, I hope to play in the World Series one day. Ever since I was in little league, I've dreamed of playing in the fall classic."

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