Former Butler pitcher Garrett Christman throws a pitch from the mound. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Lafakis
ANDREW MILD | SPORTS REPORTER | email@example.com
Garrett Christman defines himself as a “Bulldog.”
“I needed to be a Bulldog when I took the mound,” Christman said.
That is the mentality Christman had before he started the Indiana State Championship game for Noblesville High School in 2014. That mentality propelled the team to its first ever State Championship.
Shortly following the game, Christman was selected in the 37th round of the MLB draft in 2014, by his Dad’s former team, the San Francisco Giants.
Garrett’s dad, Kevin Christman, wore many hats throughout his baseball career. He was a catcher in the Phillies organization, as well as a coach and scout for 25 years with the San Francisco Giants — where he won three World Series Championships. Not only did Garrett’s father play professional baseball, but so did his grandfather, Ron Christman.
“Having that experience in my corner really helped,” Garrett Christman said. “I was able to see baseball from behind the curtain, and whenever I had questions I could always ask my dad.”
Although Christman was truly honored to be selected by the Giants, he did not sign and intended on following through with his commitment to Butler. This would allow him to improve and develop as a ball player.
“I was recruited by Coach Schrage and I was going to get an opportunity to play my freshman year and continue to chase my dream of being a professional baseball player,” Christman said.
For the first half of his collegiate career, Christman was a swiss army knife. He played every infield position besides catcher, with most of his starts coming at shortstop when he wasn’t pitching.
Heading into Christman’s junior season in 2017, his head coach Dave Schrage saw something special in Christman.
“I had seen how strong and loose Garrett’s arm was from third base,” Coach Schrage said. “I asked him if he pitched before and he said that he was the ace pitcher in Noblesville. After throwing a bullpen Coach Norton said Christman was already one of his better pitchers.”
This gave Christman the chance to do something that not a lot of Division I players get to do—be a two-way player. Despite this, Christman said not much changed for him on a day-to-day basis.
“My practices really didn’t change a whole lot,” Christman said. “I would get to practice with the position players but I just had to make sure I found time to throw off of the mound.”
When describing his pitching style, Christman said that he ties it back to his mentality.
“I would describe myself as a Bulldog,” Christman said. “I fill up the strike zone with five pitches. I have [my] four-seam, sinker, circle change, slider and curveball to induce contact and try to work fast.”
Behind Christman’s arm and his team’s leading 48-RBI’s, the 2018 Butler Bulldogs punched their ticket to their first ever Big East Tournament appearance since joining the conference in the summer of 2013 .
“That was my favorite experience while playing at Butler,” Christman said. “We weren’t very good the first couple of years, but we worked hard and built a team that made a good run at a Big East title my senior year.”
After losing a heartbreaker to Seton Hall in the second round, Christman’s collegiate career had ended, but his professional baseball career began when the San Francisco Giants signed him as a pitcher. Christman was placed in the Arizona league with AZL Giants Black in June of 2018.
“That was a really fun experience, when I was there I got to meet some veteran pitchers from the Giants that would come down when they were rehabbing,” Christman said. “I would sit with them and pick their brains about pitching and try to learn as much as I could.”
For the past three years, Christman has been playing baseball in the independent leagues. He is currently with the Frontier League’s Windy City ThunderBolts who play their home games in Crestwood, Ill — which is located south of Chicago.
“He is a unique pitcher.” ThunderBolts manager, Brian Smith said. “Because he played two-ways at Butler I knew his athleticism was through the roof, which allowed me to trust him in different spots.”
The Butler alum takes his mascot’s nickname to heart, and he is going to need that Bulldog mentality as he continues to chase his boyhood dream — which is to pitch in the Major Leagues.