And how he stayed on top of his game
“It’s been just a pleasant surprise. Kind of a beautiful thing that was a stamp on the end of your life’s work,” Bronson Arroyo said of his induction into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame for 2023 in late October. The famous baseball star with flowing locks played 17 years in the league and became only the second Reds pitcher to win a Rawlins Golden Glove Award. He has also had a multi-faceted career that spans genres, as he has produced movies and is a musician in his own band. If the name sounds familiar, it is because the versatile Reds legend came right out of Hernando County’s backyard. Arroyo played for the Hernando Leopards baseball team in high school before being drafted into the professional ranks.
Born in Key West, Arroyo’s life led him across the country. From the southernmost point of the United States to the Midwest, Arroyo has made waves. The retired baseball star was selected 69th overall in the 3rd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1995 MLB draft. While he would not make his majors debut until the new millennium, Arroyo would prove to be one of the most reliable pitchers in the history of the league.
Not only was he able to avoid significant injury for much of his playing time, but Arroyo was also reliable on the mound. He finished his career tied for 7th in games started, and 16th in innings pitched while finishing 6th in strikeouts. The hall-of-fame pitcher led a two-decade-long career that included seven years in the minor leagues and 15 years in the majors. Arroyo had stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, and Arizona Diamondbacks. During his time at these stops, he was also able to mentor players such as Pitcher Mike Leake and Right Fielder Jay Bruce. At the end of his illustrious career, Arroyo finally retired at 40 years of age after he played his final season with the Reds in 2017.
What helped him to have such a sustained time playing professional baseball? How was he able to maintain excellence for as long as he did? The short answer: Pearl Jam. “It was about listening to Pearl Jam Ten every time I worked out,” Arroyo said. “I felt like Eddie Vedder was fuel for me to get those squat workouts in when I was 35 years old, and my back hurt, and my knees hurt. Without that, I’m probably not even a minor-league player.”
The baseball star noted that as a player with a thin frame who threw between 86 and 90 miles an hour on average, most people might expect him to “pitch a couple of years” in the major leagues and get a couple of starts. Due to his preparation and attention to detail, though, that clearly was not the case for Arroyo’s career. He grinded through all the workouts and all the conditioning, and he had the music of Pearl Jam to help spur him on to one more rep. His work ethic allowed him to build his hall-of-fame career, and he shared similar advice for any young players who are looking to play in major league baseball one day.
“Be harsh on yourself in your preparation,” Arroyo said. “So, if you’re late to practice, if you go to sleep too late, if you miss a meal, you don’t pay attention to details like that in your preparation, beat yourself up over that. But when you play in game, just let it ride… You’ve got to be really serious about your preparation and be very joyous while you’re playing the game out there because other people are training just as hard.”