Brent Suter is best known as “The Raptor”, a successful baseball pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers. When he isn’t pitching or doing celebrity impressions for his teammates, Brent has his hands full trying to make baseball a more environmentally sustainable sport. Driven by his concern for a deteriorating climate, he founded Sidelining Carbon, which helps professional sports teams offset their carbon footprint. Listen to this latest episode of All-Inclusive to learn more about Brent’s passion for environmental activism.
Brent Suter is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball
Speaker 1 (00:03):
All Inclusive, a podcast on inclusion, innovation and social justice with Jay Ruderman.
Jay Ruderman (00:13):
Hi. I’m Jay Ruderman and this is All Inclusive, a podcast focused on inclusion, innovation and social justice. Brent Michael Suter is a professional baseball player for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball. He studied at Harvard University and was drafted into the MLB in 2012. Yet today, he’s here to talk with us about a subject pretty far removed from baseball, environmental activism. Brent, welcome to All Inclusive.
Brent Michael Suter (00:46):
Hey, Jay. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.
Jay Ruderman (00:48):
So, many topics require attention and activism. For example, racism, sexism, the list is so long.
Brent Michael Suter (00:55):
Jay Ruderman (00:56):
How did you become involved in environmental activism and why focus on global warming?
Brent Michael Suter (01:02):
Yeah, it’s something that started sophomore year high school for me. I watched An Inconvenient Truth the year it came out, with my mom actually, and just didn’t know the extent of the problems that were going on and it just really blew me away. From that moment on, it was on my heart to try to do something about it, so I knew I wanted to study it in college, study environmental science [inaudible 00:01:20] in college and then whatever path I took after college, I wanted to have this be a part of my mission. So entering professional baseball, which was always a dream of mine, I have tried to integrate environmental activism into my day-to-day living and then some programs I get involved with and helped start. So yeah, it’s been, been quite a journey. I can always do more. The problem is so immense and so alarming that every second we waste is just precious time, but I’m just trying to do my best to use the platform of baseball and trying to reach people that might not, otherwise, hear about the problems or solutions and just try to be part of the solution.
Jay Ruderman (02:03):
Well, I really appreciate it. I think that you’ve taken a leading role in Major League Baseball in terms of your activism and have actually found some receptivity within the league and within your team. Maybe generally, what can you say is the biggest issue facing our environment today?
Brent Michael Suter (02:26):
I would say just big, big picture, the threshold that you hear about in the news, the two degrees Celsius warming being the runaway where climate starts breaking down and there’s no chance or point of return, so, and unfortunately, we’re heading there quickly. So I think just the temperature rise and the fear or the potential of just runaway, basically, climate breakdown would be the biggest concern. Obviously, there’s a lot in there with pollution, toxic chemicals being dumped in the environment with deforestation, both in the ocean and on land and with plastics.
Brent Michael Suter (03:09):
There’s all kinds of problems that, unfortunately, we create with our linear society and nature works in that cycle of the circular, cyclical pattern. Unfortunately, our society has just use the resources in and then dump them out and that linear pattern, we got to get back into balance with nature and getting more cyclical about our society. So I think there’s going to be multiple solutions cause there’s multiple huge problems, but we got to put this at the forefront of our policymaking, at the forefront of our day-to-day behavior, day-to-day life. We got to be the generation and the people that help this problem rather than continue to the problem.
Jay Ruderman (03:53):
So do you think there’s still hope, or we already beyond where this is all downhill and we’re just living in a situation that we can’t control, or do you believe that there’s still things that we can do to turn the situation around?
Brent Michael Suter (04:12):
I think there’s still time. I think there’s still hope. Unfortunately, like I said before, the time is just running short and shorter and shorter every day and it just seems like the projections are getting worse and worse every day. So we’re not exactly helping the problem yet. On the large scale, there are some signs of hope. I really take a lot of hope in the younger generation and their involvement in their activism, for sure. I take a lot of hope in some policies that are being put in and especially, environmental justice policies that have really been put in this year.
Brent Michael Suter (04:48):
I think once we help other human beings that have been put at the hands of environmental injustice, I think that’ll help change the whole course of our thinking and say, “Hey, when we help people that have been environmentally suffering injustice, it helps everything.” So all these wrongs that have been existing for generations and generations, if we right them, other things start benefiting nature, start benefiting our resources, so I think there’s hope in that, in our new policies. But we got a long way to go, a long way to go in a short time to do it. So I’m hopeful, but I’ll be honest, I’m a little worried, for sure.
Jay Ruderman (05:33):
So let me talk a little bit about your background. I know you went to Mueller High School outside of Cincinnati, and you’ve had some very famous alumni come out of that school, including, I believe, the former Speaker of the House, John Boehner, as well as some very talented baseball players and other other athletes, but it is a school where I think the focus is on spirituality and religion. How much does spirituality play in your life and how do you see it connected to the issue of environmentalism?
Brent Michael Suter (06:11):
It’s big. I was raised in a Catholic household. My whole life, I went to church, Sunday School and went to a Catholic high school, obviously, and it’s been a big part of my life. I really look at environmentalism as a care for God’s creation and the gifts he’s bestowed on our world and our species really have been just enormous. But I look at the ways we’ve been treating it as probably offensive to his creation and just dominion doesn’t mean we have to dominate and deplete our resources. Dominion means we have responsibility over his creation. So it’s absolutely a huge component of my environmentalism. I look at it as trying to be a steward of his blessing and trying to pass it on to my son and all other future generations, and honestly, our later lives. This is a problem that we’re talking about is already affecting us, but it will affect us in our lifetimes.
Jay Ruderman (07:12):
Tell me, you went to Harvard and I think what not everyone knows is not only are you a great athlete and a great pitcher, but you were also an excellent student. Maybe you can talk about the cultural difference between, growing up in the Cincinnati area and then spending four years at Harvard. What did Harvard do for you in terms of educating you, because I know you focused on environmentalism while you were there.
Brent Michael Suter (07:44):
Yeah. I tell people all the time, “Look, the best thing about Harvard was the people.” The professors were incredible, the TAs and everybody were incredible, but the other students that I came into contact with, I just looked at it as a blessing being able to meet so many people from different backgrounds, different belief systems, who are just incredibly smart, bright, talented. You can just see their path is set for helping this world, but they’re also incredible people too, humble, down to earth. I think Harvard really had that effect of everyone humbled each other with the accomplishments.
Brent Michael Suter (08:22):
It didn’t take long for me to get humbled at all there, but just like that gradual humbling of like, “Wow, this person does this and I can’t be walking around with my chest puffed out too much because I’m surrounded by people who are doing incredible things.” Then it was cool to see it in sophomore, junior year, everyone rallied around that and really started. It was just a really cool experience of seeing people, that humbling process and then build each other up after that and work together and really, really pick each other during the tough times.
Jay Ruderman (08:57):
Well, I know that you spent a number of years in the Minor League System and I read a story about when you were told, with only a few hours to go, that you were being moved from a minor league team in Colorado to pitch for the Brewers against the Mariners in Seattle. I think your comment was, “Oh, Mylanta,” but maybe you can talk a little bit about baseball. You’re pitching, you’re on a team with players from all over the world, all over the country and they come from different backgrounds, different political views. Do you see the environmental movement as labeled as a political movement, and what type of feedback have you gotten from your teammates regarding what you, obviously, are very passionate about, improving the environment?
Brent Michael Suter (09:59):
Yeah. I think early on maybe, Minor Leagues early in my big league days, I was seen as maybe a liberal thing or labeled it a little bit on the political spectrum. But honestly, these last couple of years, I’ve seen guys from all over the spectrum really be in tune with it, starting changing their behaviors, starting changing their the thought process with respect to environmental activities. I see it less and less as a political issue and just more of a humanitarian issue now, so that’s been really helpful. I would say there’s still some people who want to keep it labeled as a political issue or whatever, but that happens. But I’d say just in general, the trend has been way less politicized lately and more of a humanitarian and just a global concern issue, which is, it’s good to see. You want to see just that point of rallying behind it and get the stigma away from it and just let’s get together and help this thing out.
Jay Ruderman (11:03):
Right, and you’re a very positive person. I think your spirituality plays into that and I think, generally, your personality. How’s the atmosphere in the clubhouse in Milwaukee these days? Are people getting along? How do you see the situation this year?
Brent Michael Suter (11:22):
Yeah. Our clubhouse, really from the time I got to the big leagues, has been really, really great. There’ve been some laws here and there where we go on a losing streak and look like we’re going to maybe be pulling each other on different sides of the rope, but then we rally together and we come back strong. This year, honestly, the whole time it’s been incredible. The baseball season, it’s crazy. There’s some ups and downs, so there’ve been a couple of down parts where we’re just struggling and we’re trying to find our footing. You can tell there’s a little bit of frustration here and there, just on the baseball side, but in terms of the guys getting along with each other, it’s been incredible. We’ve had some great additions too.
Jay Ruderman (12:02):
Well, I’m a Bostonian, lifelong Red Sox fan and recording this out of the Boston area. Jackie Bradley Jr. was one of my favorite players and to see him in the outfield, there’s very few people in Major League Baseball with his skills, so he’s a big plus for you guys right now.
Brent Michael Suter (12:21):
Jay Ruderman (12:23):
Let’s talk a little bit about the carbon footprint. Maybe you can just, in a few words, explain what the significance of the carbon footprint is and how it impacts the environment.
Brent Michael Suter (12:35):
Yeah. So just in general, it’s how much carbon you’re using in your to day-to-day lives, whether that’s through air travel, bus travel, with your cars, with your diet, with your household heating and lighting and whatnot. So it’s, basically, how much carbon you’re putting into the atmosphere just by your single use actions. We started a program last year called Sidelining Carbon where we’re trying to encourage professional sports teams to be part of the solution and cutting back, or offsetting their carbon footprints, and particularly with travel, air travel particularly. So our goal is by 2025 to offset 50% of all sports travel emissions, so it’s a lofty goal. We’re still working on getting more and more teams here, but I’ve had a lot of teams reach out here recently, which is a good sign to want to offset their carbon emissions. So, basically, it’s your individual contribution to global warming, in a way. CO2 is a big greenhouse gas.
Jay Ruderman (13:38):
Let’s talk a little bit about Sideling Carbon, and maybe you can talk about how this initiative began, which teams? I know the Milwaukee Brewers are on board, Dallas Mavericks in addition to some other teams, but how’s it going? Is there reception among professional sports teams to join this initiative and what do they have to do, because, they’re obviously, you guys away games, you’re going to get on a plane and get there? There’s a lot of travel in major league sports. What do teams have to commit to and how’s the process of convincing them to be part of this?
Brent Michael Suter (14:18):
Yeah. So it started, I was getting in contact with a young man named Benjamin Backer, who is from Wisconsin, big Brewers fan and he’s done some incredible things on the environmental activism front. He’s actually conservative along the political spectrum, but wants to help conservatives be environmentally active. So he started American Conservation Coalition and we partnered with them to create the programs Sidelining Carbon. We’re working with the Nature Conservancy, Players for the Planet and the Cool Effect to help get this thing done. Unfortunately, last year with the financial concerns of COVID, it was tough to get reception once they heard there was a price tag attached.
Brent Michael Suter (15:03):
But this year, I’m hearing a lot more as the ball gets rolling back to where we were in 2019 financially. A lot more teams are interested in giving back and offsetting their carbon, so that’s a good sign. Basically, like you said, the Mavericks, Brewers, we got several other teams on board and some other teams very interested. The ideal is once they sign up, they offset all their plane and bus CO2 emissions into these projects that are going on in Pennsylvania and Tennessee through the Cool Effect and their carbon will be offset, therefore. So we want to have that done with 50% of the teams in all sports is really the goal because ideally, cutting off 50% of the team’s emissions would be 50% of all travel emissions.
Brent Michael Suter (15:54):
So we calculate it with CO2 used per mile, of jet fuel used per mile of flying and then with the busing, how many buses are used. So there’s some calculations going on, but basically, just there’s a bill at the end of the day. Players, management, owners are encouraged to help offset that and it’s a tax write off and everything. But we definitely want to see this grow and the ACA, American Conservation Coalition is doing, or ACC, sorry, is doing a great job with it. So, hopefully, it takes off here very, very shortly now that we’re getting a little more back to normal.
Jay Ruderman (16:37):
So do you feel hopeful that MLB and other sports, they’re going to join into this effort and they’re going to look seriously at it and are your discussions with the leagues leading someplace?
Brent Michael Suter (16:53):
Yeah. Yeah, and like I said, the ball has been rolling a little more lately. Last year was just a tough year. In hindsight, might not have been the best year to start this thing, but I’m glad we did it anyways, but there’s been positive reception and I think we just need to get a couple more teams in it and then they’ll talk about it to other teams or something. We just need to get that ball rolling just a little bit more and I think it’ll take off, hopefully. So the momentum is building. They’re doing a great job and we just got to get that fine, a little roll, but going to the ball.
Jay Ruderman (17:35):
Well, I think that you’ve explained to us that you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk in terms of your own personal life and trying to influence those around you. What do you say when some people say, “Hey, this carbon emissions issue is a global problem and these incremental changes are not really going to change anything?” How do you push back against that?
Brent Michael Suter (17:59):
Yeah. Honestly, my response is that we are all in this system together and every piece of pollution, every piece of greenhouse gas that I am responsible for putting in the atmosphere is more damage in the present term and in the future to the system and that everything we do matters and has consequences now and for hundreds of years in the future. So everything I can cut down on, I want to, because for the future generation’s sake, maybe it might not show up on the big global calculations. I’ll give them that, but maybe it helps down the line of just that one last degree where otherwise, the whole ecosystem would have perished or something where we’re entering an era where everything is so stressed environmentally that every little bit we can do to minimize the damage on the system helps. So I think it’s one of those things like, “We’re all in this together,” that mentality and everything we do matters and I respond to that.
Jay Ruderman (19:14):
So what are the biggest roadblocks on a macro level that we’re facing right now in terms of carbon emissions? I know that this program doesn’t get political, in the sense that it focuses on activism, but there’s, obviously, a political element here where some people are pushing the reduction of carbon emissions and others are like, ‘Well, it’s not as big a problem.” Where do you see the biggest issues that we’re going to face in the future on this?
Brent Michael Suter (19:44):
The one thing that stands out in my mind is just fossil fuel dependency and trying to transition away from fossil fuels. It just needs to happen and there’s going to be some growing pains with it, for sure. There’s going to be absolutely some technological advances that need to happen, particularly, with battery storage and battery power and all that. But this fossil fuel use in general and the subsidies that have to go in to make fossil fuels affordable for everybody, unfortunately, they need to go away at some point and we need to transition into renewable energies, renewable battery-powered houses, battery-powered cars and those systems being fed with the renewable power because fossil fuel, it’s just too much. The excavation of it, the processing of it and the use of it, it just takes such an environmental toll. We’ve known this for about 40 or 50 years now that it leads to problems environmentally and I say that’s the biggest one.
Jay Ruderman (20:59):
What would you say, there are several states in the United States, let’s set aside the rest of the world, but there are several states in the United States that are very heavily dependent on the fossil fuel industry? Their positions have been, “We’ll support this industry because it’s creating a lot of jobs and there’s political pressure.” What would you say to states like Texas or Kentucky or other states that have the fossil fuel industry has major parts of their economy? How do they begin to move away from this without hurting their population?
Brent Michael Suter (21:37):
Yeah, and I totally understand that thinking. Honestly, if I was in a position of political power, I feel like my hands are tied behind my back are stuck between a rock and hard place, whatever phrase you want to use, because I want to help my constituents. I want to see them succeed, have jobs, have income, have self-reliance, but I’m seeing this problem just bearing down on the globe at the same time. Listen, it’s going to be a transition period where these skilled workers that have been in fossil fuels are going to need to be smoothly transitioned into renewable energy generation and use some of their skills and acquire some new skills for a renewable energy generation because like we were talking before, the fossil fuel industry, we can’t be dependent on fossil fuels in 150 years, in 50 years.
Brent Michael Suter (22:35):
We need to be renewable, a cyclical society, energy society. I would say if there’s programs in place where, “Hey, listen. This fossil fuel job is going to go away, but here’s a transition. Here’s a training program for you and here’s a transition right into this job, another good paying job for renewable energy.” It’s going to need to be a sophisticated rollout plan to get everybody brought onboard on transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but I think we can get it done. I think we have the manpower and the people in place to do that, but it will be a huge undertaking, for sure.
Jay Ruderman (23:18):
Let me talk a little bit about some other environmental initiatives you’ve been involved in. I read about the tremendous amount of plastic that’s used in a stadium, and I forget the number, but in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, plastic cups that are being used during a game. Can you talk a little bit about your initiative to move away from plastic cups and use reusable cups to drink from, and also, recycling the plastic cups that are used?
Brent Michael Suter (23:57):
Yeah, for sure. So a couple of years ago, probably three or four years ago, I started a social media campaign called Strike Out Waste, where I was encouraging players, teammates, fans, management to use reusable bottles instead of the single use plastic bottles. We were just going through so many at spring training. It was just driving me crazy, so some companies hopped on board and sent us hundreds of bottles that I was able to give away to teammates, management and some fans and then, just encouraging fans to fill up at water stations. Unfortunately, you can’t bring many types of bottles into the stadium, just because the projectiles in the upper parts of the stadium would be a concern, but the bottles that they were allowed to bring in, we started getting some reasonable filling stations at spring training and in the season.
Brent Michael Suter (24:46):
So we ended up cutting about half of our plastic bottle use in spring training as a team, which was good. Unfortunately, towards the end of the season, only probably 10 guys were using the reusable bottles in a dedicated way. So the momentum faded a little bit. Unfortunately, I had to rehab that year in Arizona, so I was away from the team, so I couldn’t be Mr. Encouragement for reasonable bottles the whole time, but some guys were still doing it and some guys still do it today, which is really encouraging. But then that led to a partnership with SC Johnson and the Milwaukee Brewers where all the plastic cups last year that would have been used by fans we’re going to get upcycled to Scrubbing Bubbles bottles and we had everything in place. There were going to be a donation for Save the Oceans Campaign with Players of the Planet as part of this partnership.
Brent Michael Suter (25:42):
For every save that the Brewers got, we were going to donate to help clean up beaches in the Dominican Republic, but unfortunately, COVID hit and everything went away, but the Save the Oceans Campaign. So, but we’re going to start it up now that restrictions are being loosened and we’re going to do our best to start up again this year and get those plastic cups. I think it was estimated 1.3 million cups would have been upcycled into Scrubbing Bubbles bottles rather than thrown away or gone to a landfill. So there’s still things in the works. COVID hasn’t taken away everything, which is good, but I’m really excited about this SC Johnson partnership that the Brewers have. It’s really the first of its kind, kind of a corporate partner with the sports team in the environmental space. Fisk Johnson, the CEO of SC Johnson. His heart is really in this problem. He wants to be part of the solution and he’s doing great things, so very excited for that and what the future holds there.
Jay Ruderman (26:40):
Yeah, and so smart because the Brewers working with a local Wisconsin company to benefit the environment, the company, the fans seeing a direct connection to their recycling, it’s not just going off someplace and they don’t know what’s happening; they actually know what’s happening with it, such a smart way to approach it. I hope that after we come out of COVID, I hope it’s reinvigorated and that other teams will learn from what you’re doing and see examples in their community where they can do the same type of thing.
Brent Michael Suter (27:20):
Yeah. I think Fisk just told us that he had dozens and dozens of teams in the next couple of days after we announced the partnership, reach out to him and say they want something similar for their team. So that was really cool to hear that teams are on board, they want to be part of the solution too, and have partners along the way that I can help them get to those goals, so very exciting stuff.
Jay Ruderman (27:44):
So if you’ll indulge me, I’m a huge baseball fan and I just want to talk a little bit about baseball.
Brent Michael Suter (27:50):
Jay Ruderman (27:51):
I’ve read that you are an infectious player and just so happy to be involved in baseball as your career and just appreciating every day. Maybe you can talk a little bit about how professional baseball became your career. It was a lifelong dream, but a lot of times dreams don’t happen. How did it happen for you?
Brent Michael Suter (28:16):
Yeah. Honestly, it’s amazing that I’m still playing because I wasn’t really highly recruited out of high school, didn’t have many calls going on. Then, I randomly sent a video in government class one day to some Ivy League coaches and the Harvard coach got back to me. He liked what he saw, sent some scouts down. A couple of weeks later, I pitched well in a showcase and then, a couple of weeks later, they had a guy de-commit and so they had a spot open and I was able to sign a likely letter there a month-and-a-half later. It was insane to even get to college baseball, which was always a dream, more of a goal of mine. Professional baseball was always just that lofty dream and then, college came and went. I was a starter all four years, but I really had some ups and downs in college and some really tough years.
Brent Michael Suter (29:07):
Senior year I was looking to get drafted, obviously, and texted every scout I knew probably a month before the draft. I went to workout in Amherst, Massachusetts where the guy who invited actually had an eye infection, but the two other guys there watched me pitch and it was the best I’ve ever thrown in my life. They were the only two guys that call me on draft day and the Brewers scout that was there picked me up in the 31st round and so was able to get into pro ball. I had a crazy first year of pro ball. It was supposed be in the AZL League, which is like the lower rookie league. The guy punched a wall in the next level up and broke his knuckle and they sent me up there, just being an older guy, like a sink or swim thing. Like, “Hey, go see if you can hang with them.”
Brent Michael Suter (29:54):
So I went up there, had a tough first couple of starts, but then pitched well and got moved up later that year to the next team and just the ball kept rolling from there. I was able to keep my name in the raffle wheel for the promotions, as they all like to say in the Minor Leagues, just pitching well enough to be a thought at the next level. Then come that August day where I was supposed to start that night for AAA and the coach calls me and said, “Hey, you’re not starting for me tonight. You’re starting tomorrow in the big leagues against the Mariners. I remember the look with my wife that day. It was incredible, like shock or just emotion, pure happiness and tears of joy just running down our faces.
Brent Michael Suter (30:38):
It was incredible, so I’ll never forget that, but my dad and I talk about it all the time I’m playing with house money. You know what I mean? I’m really not a hard thrower. I wasn’t really supposed to be here, but I just kept pitching, trying to keep making pitches and grateful for every day I get to play a baseball for a living and it’s been an incredible blessing for my family. My son gets to come watch dad play baseball; it’s so cool and he loves it. He loves the sausage races up in Milwaukee maybe even more than baseball, at this point. But he loves coming to the games and it’s been an incredible ride. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Jay Ruderman (31:18):
I’ve been to Milwaukee and I’ve seen the sausage races, so it is a highlight of the game, but-
Brent Michael Suter (31:24):
Yeah, the crowd gets crazy for it. It’s hilarious.
Jay Ruderman (31:29):
But even in the Minor Leagues, you never got down. You never like, “Oh, I’m not in the big leagues right now.” I think you were just you were just happy to be playing and to be paid for being playing, even though, maybe at the Minor Leagues it’s not all that much money, but I think you retained a very positive attitude. How much of that is you and who you are as a positive person? How much is that just your spirituality or religious beliefs about taking the good things out of life?
Brent Michael Suter (32:04):
Yeah. I definitely think it’s more of the spirituality, but it’s definitely how I was raised, too. My parents raised me to try to be as grateful as I can all the time, to always give a glory and thanks to God at all times, so definitely, they instilled that spirituality part in me. Just knowing that all these gifts, these blessings are from God and what I do with them are my gift back to God, so just trying to take that mentality, for sure. But there’ve been some low moments, too. There’ve been some times where I was frustrated or let myself get a little down or whatnot, maybe after a bad day or just a decision that I didn’t agree with, what have you. So I’m a human being, too.
Brent Michael Suter (32:52):
I’m not just completely positive all the time. I try to be as positive as I can, but we’re all human. We all have those low moments, but it’s just in those low moments, too, just clinging to my faith and clinging to God and Jesus, and just saying, “Hey, take these selfish thoughts or take these burdens or what have you and let me be who you want me to be today.” But being able to play a sport for a living, it’s hard not to be a super grateful. It’s an incredible opportunity, an incredible platform for things like this for environmental issues. Last year, we were being able to partake in boycott, standing up for social justice and just having a platform where people listen to you they like watching your pitch, but they’ll listen to you too. So it’s definitely a responsibility, but a huge blessing at the same time.
Jay Ruderman (33:50):
So how did you decide to become a pitcher? Did you know at some point that you had a natural talent to throw the ball and throw it fast and accurate, or did you develop into a pitcher at some point in your baseball career?
Brent Michael Suter (34:04):
Yeah. I want to say once we started doing kids pitch, I was in Atlanta at the time, but then moving to Cincinnati when I was in second grade, being left-handed, you automatically have that a little bit of a leg up or just you’re a rarity, only 11% of the population or whatever he is left-handed. Then, I just knew I could throw decently hard as a young kid and was able to throw it, somewhat strikes and all that and was able to get some confidence going. I was a decent hitter growing up too, so I didn’t know. I’d loved Ken Griffey Jr., growing up, so I wanted to emulate his swing all the time.
Brent Michael Suter (34:51):
I didn’t know for sure I wanted to be a pitcher only, and then did a little bit of both in the early part of college and then gave up hitting once I was hitting about a buck 70 in college, I was like, “Okay, let me just focus on pitching,” and then was able to focus on pitching. I just did just enough to get to the next level and was able to ride some good pitching, but just a lot of fortunate circumstances happening from there to the big leagues.
Jay Ruderman (35:22):
But you did get quite an impressive home run off of a very good pitcher, and that must’ve been a real high for you.
Brent Michael Suter (35:33):
Oh, my gosh, yeah. That was one of the funniest moments in my baseball life, for sure. It was the first pitch of the inning, which pitchers aren’t supposed to swing at, but I just saw it up and was able to get the barrel to it and it went out and heads off Corey Kluber, who is a two or three times Cy Young winner. He was pitching well against us and I was able to hit that home run and he was pitching pretty well that game, too, so that was definitely one of the funner or more fun memories of my baseball life.
Jay Ruderman (36:06):
So what do you think was your most memorable game in your career so far?
Brent Michael Suter (36:12):
That home run game is definitely up there. I had a game the year before where I was having a pretty good month and it was my really first full month of starting. I was more of a starter back then and was able to hold our archrival Cubs scorers over seven endings. It was a big game where a tight division race. It kept a really cool moment for me and for the team and just a really special night, so that was really memorable. Then the stretch run down in 2019, I was coming off of surgery, Tommy John surgery. I had rehabbed all year and was able to pitch really well for the team in the regular season and then through a school setting in the playoffs, so that was a lot of fun. That was just one of those dream years. Everything was going right out there and a lot of hard work was really paying off from the rehab process, so that was really memorable as well.
Jay Ruderman (37:13):
Well, I really want to thank you for joining us. You’re having a good career and sounds like a lot of fun and your head’s in the right place, but you’re also using your platform to really advance an issue that’s critical to all of us. I think you’re going to really have some success, so I really appreciate you coming. I’ll just end by saying, I know you do great imitations and I don’t want to put you on the spot, but maybe you want to give us an imitation because I’ve seen you do a few of them and you’re pretty good.
Brent Michael Suter (37:50):
Yeah, yeah. So I’ll do a couple, my Gollum one, from Lord of the Rings for anyone is out there, for Lord of the Rings, me precious [inaudible 00:38:02] Then I’ll do a little Jim Carrey, too. You know, you could poke somebody’s eye out with that thing. Take care, now. Bye-bye there. Those are a couple I got and playing in Wisconsin, I’m working on little Chris Farley, the Matt Foley SNL skit, where he’s like, “Hey kids. You take the world around [inaudible 00:38:33] you Up to put it in your pocket. Well, I’m here to tell you, you’re probably going to find out as you go out there that you’re not going to amount to jack squat.
Jay Ruderman (38:45):
Yeah. He was a master. He was a master. I’ve become very friendly with Peter and Bobby Farrelly [crosstalk 00:38:54] Dumb & Dumber. They’re just great and very funny. You’re really relaxed and this has been such a fun interview and I really appreciate you coming on.
Brent Michael Suter (39:07):
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate you Jay, and I wish you all the best in the future.
Jay Ruderman (39:11):
Thank you so much.
Speaker 1 (39:16):
All Inclusive is a production of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Our key mission is the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. You can find All Inclusive on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. To view the show notes, transcripts or to learn more, go to rudermanfoundation.org/allinclusive. Have an idea for a podcast. Be sure to tweet @JayRuderman.