Joe CottonJoe Cotton had a clear vision from an early age as to what his profession was going to be. “I was about 3 or 4 years old and I was at an Indians game with my dad,” Cotton said. “I knew right then where my passion was. I knew right then what I wanted to do with my life. It was my dream to play in the majors from that point on.” While Cotton was not able to fully realize his dream, he had a great ride chasing it. And he very nearly did realize the dream during his nine-year professional career.

“I got close in 2000 with the Phillies with AA Reading,” Cotton said. “I was a setup guy out of the bullpen when setup guys for the closer were becoming popular. I had a great season (4-1, 2.00 ERA) and was considered by the Phillies management for a call-up to the major-league team in September.” Cotton didn’t get the call-up, but he did get to go to Venezuela a few months later to compete in the winter league against several major-league players, including Bobby Abreu and Omar Vizquel. “I still consider myself very fortunate to do what I did,” said Cotton, who lives in Florida and is in Home Depot’s Loss Prevention Program. “You have to have a lot of talent and lot of things to go your way. As it was I got drafted and played professional baseball for nearly a decade.”

Cotton first gained recognition during a sterling career at Hoban High School. He struck out 16 in a semifinal game of the state finals. He received a scholarship to Bowling Green State University and had a strong career as a Falcon starting pitcher. That convinced the Phillies to draft the 6-foot-2 right-hander in the 18th round after his junior season.  He climbed the ladder in the Phillies organization for five years before going to Oakland in the Rule 5 draft. He got as high as AAA with Sacramento. He retired after the 2004 season. In 9 years of pro ball he had a lifetime ERA of 3.28 in 347 games with 617 innings of work. “I wouldn’t trade a minute of my life in pro ball,” said Cotton. “It was tough, but it was a dream of mine and I lived it. I didn’t play for the money, but rather the brotherhood and the game.”