If you saw the game last night, you saw the interview Joey Votto conducted with FSN Ohio. Votto was very candid about the issues that have been affecting him for the better part of a year.

I’ll post Votto’s comments in the extended entry below (additional coverage of Votto’s return to the diamond here, here, here, and here), but I’ll say this: if you weren’t a Votto fan before, you probably are now. And if you aren’t a Votto fan now, on some level, after hearing what he’s been dealing with, I’m not sure I want you around me.

Keep your chin up, Joey. Redleg Nation (that’s all of you) is rooting for you, on the playing field and, especially, off the field.

“As some of you know, my father passed away last August. The first day back I kind of put that all on the back burner and just played baseball all the way to the end of September. I don’t want to use the word suppress because he was in my thoughts and I was dealing with it on a daily basis. But, as powerful a moment that is to lose your father so young, in a way I did suppress it. From August to the beginning of spring training, I was pretty severely depressed. I was dealing with the anxiety of grief and sadness and fear. Every emotion you can imagine that everyone goes through.

“I had a really difficult time with it. I was by myself down in Florida. I just was really looking forward to baseball. When baseball started up in February, I kind of did the same thing I did last August and threw it all on the side, threw all my emotions on the back burner and played baseball.

“I got sick in May. I had the upper respiratory thing and the ear infection. It was taking the time away from baseball and recovering from being sick when for the first time all emotions that had been pushing to the side that I had been dealing with and struggling with in the winter hit me. They hit me a hundred times more than I had been dealing with.

“I was taken out of three separate games. The first game it was a combination of me being ill. But I could tell there was something going on. I couldn’t recover. I had this feeling of anxiety. I had this feeling in my chest. The second time I came out in San Diego, it was similar. But I was healthy and I felt like I could’ve played.

“The third time was in Milwaukee, and I was totally overwhelmed.

“I spoke to some doctors. They came to the conclusion I was dealing with obviously being depressed and anxiety and panic attacks. They were overwhelming to the point where I had to go to the hospital on two separate occasions. Once in San Diego and once – nobody had been told about – but I went to the hospital once in Cincinnati when the team was on the road.

“It was a very, very scary and crazy night. I had to call 911 at 3 or 4 in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever dealt with in my life. I went to the hospital that night.

“The days I was taken off the field were little, miniature versions of what I was dealing with by myself. Ever since I’ve been on the DL and even the little bit before the DL, I’ve been really struggling with this in my private life. I’d go on the field and try to do my best and play well. I had my spurts when I’d play well. But going out on the field . . . I couldn’t do it anymore because I was so overwhelmed physically by the stuff I was dealing with off the field.

“It finally seeped its way into the game. I just had to put an end to it. I really couldn’t be out there. It’s difficult to explain what I was going through. I couldn’t do it. I physically couldn’t do my job. That’s what I’ve gone through.

“I’ve been talking and seeing some doctors. They’ve been a great help. And speaking to people in general – I spoke to my team last week – and letting people know what I’ve been dealing with and how difficult this grieving process has been. My father was young, and I’m a young man. I really wish I hadn’t lost my father so young. I’m the oldest brother. I feel like I’m responsible for my family. Maybe I have a proclivity for depression or whatever it is.

“But I was dealing with some pretty abnormal circumstances – the combination of being a major league ballplayer, a young ballplayer and also dealing with my father and my family.”

11 Responses

  1. Y-City Jim

    He’s a good man. One that his father (and mother) can’t help but be proud of.

  2. pinson343

    Indeed, welcome back and stay healthy. You have our 100% support.

  3. jason1972

    Where the heck did this guy come from? He’s like the anti-modern day star athlete. What a rare guy in pro sports. I wish him the best.

  4. per14

    Pretty heartbreaking, yet encouraging at the same time. I’m about Joey’s age, the oldest of four, and if my father died unexpectedly and young, I can only imagine how hard that would be. Joey, I’m proud to be a fan or yours.

    And hopefully this will shut up all the clueless people who call WLW and comment on Fay’s blog.

  5. RiverCity Redleg

    Joey Votto is someone you can definitely root for. He’s one of the “good guys” in sports, a consumate professional. All this, while also being a superstar.

  6. RiverCity Redleg

    I think most fans truly care about the team as a whole, but also the individual players that make up the team. All we really ask in return is that the players (management and ownership, as well) care as much as we do. This can never be questioned when it comes to Votto.

  7. shane

    You have to admire the guy and not only from a baseball viewpoint. Let’s just hope the problem is over and gone away because it sounds like what he was going through had to be scary as hell

  8. West Coast fan

    I really feel for Joey. I’m really glad he opened up about what he has been struggling with – that is a healthy sign. Many people will feel compassion for his situation and that will help him cope and heal. My dad died suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago and it was very hard to deal with (still is in some ways) and he was much older than Joey’s dad. I wish him the best and hope he knows he has a lot of real support in the community for his well being.

  9. Pete

    Votto seems to completely lack pretense. How can you not root for him? I hope (and believe) that he’ll win an MVP someday.

  10. Christina

    I too have been dealing with the exact same thing and know firsthand how hard it is to experience the hell the condition brings and to fight through it. It’s a day by day process. But it gets better.

    You are stronger than I, as you brought attention and the awareness I so strongly wanted a public figure to do. It’s unfortunate this condition is not acknowleged for fear that the stigma of it will in some way make one look weak.

    I am not a public figure and I didn’t have the courage to be honest with the people that I work with about why I was gone. More power to you for having the the courage to put yourself in such a vulnerable position.

    I root for you everyday and my thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Thanks for being an inspiration.