Athletes come and go through teams and cities. Some stay in the spotlight while others can be lost with the passage of time.
It is about those athletes we ask: Where are they now?
Then: Pitcher for the Phillies’ 2008 World Series champions.
Now: Emerging Southern rock/country artist.
Back in August, Brett Myers made his way to Philadelphia from his home in Jacksonville, Fla., for a 10-year reunion celebration of the 2008 Phillies World Series champions.
He saw teammates he hadn’t seen in years, talked baseball and old times.
Then Myers was shocked when a teammate asked me how his music was going. Then another did, and a couple of others.
Although he had released three albums with his backing band, The Backwoods Rebels, Myers had not made it widely known that he was now pursuing a career in country music.
“I was like, how do you know about that?” he said. “Some of those guys I hadn’t talked to in almost 10 years. But they knew, and I appreciated that.”
When Myers, 38, was released by the Cleveland Indians and retired from baseball in 2013, he didn’t know what to do.
“I had no plan,” he said. “I thought I’d play baseball for 20 years and then fall into coaching. I’d never thought I’d do music.”
But one day while playing golf with a friend – music producer Damien Starkey, who had previously been in the rock band Puddle of Mudd, Myers started talking about some concepts he had for songs.
Starkey liked what he heard and suggested the two work together on some songs.
“I had always wanted to tell a good story, about things that have happened to me, but I wanted to tell it in a clever way,” Myers said. “That’s what songwriting is about.”
“I’m a redneck. A lot of people say redneck is a bad term, but it isn’t. We’re just hard-working people trying to make a living.”
The duo hashed out the lyrics for several songs and then Starkey froze Myers with a looping curveball.
“Creating songs was like the most satisfying thing I had done,” Myers said, “and then came the worst part. [Starkey] said, ‘Guess what? Now you’re singing them.’ ”
“I’m like, ‘No, I’m not. Dude, I don’t even sing in the shower.’ ”
Myers said he was afraid he wouldn’t be a good singer and people would end up making fun of him.
“I worked really hard on this,” he said. “I would be crushed if people said, ‘You suck.’ Nobody had to tell me when I wasn’t good in baseball because I knew when I sucked.”
But Myers had learned to be resilient in baseball. The 12th pick in the first round of the 1999 draft, Myers went 97-96 with a 4.25 ERA in his 12-year career, including 2002-09 with the Phillies. During the 2008 season, he had agreed to be optioned to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to work on mechanical issues.
He returned to the Phillies’ rotation and won two playoff starts, including one in which he also had three RBIs. He lost Game 2 of the World Series against Tampa Bay, 4-2.
Starkey insisted that Myers sing his music. A former frontman with the band Burn Season, Starkey worked with Myers to train his natural ability to sing.
Starkey also insisted the act be billed by Myers’ name, to which Myers reluctantly agreed.
Myers released the EP “Backwoods Rebel” in 2015 and eventually it became a full, 11-song album. His third release, “Home Brewed,” dropped in 2017, and he’s currently working on a fourth.
The Backwoods Rebels include former members of the bands Puddle of Mudd and Shinedown.
“These guys have platinum records,” said Myers, whose influences include Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and Alabama. “They could stay home and do diddly, but they chose to work with me. I can’t say how much that means.”
The genre is country, but Myers’ style is primarily Southern rock, with forays into country rap and classic country.
Myers has collaborated with acts like Colt Ford and The Lacs. He opened for the Southern rock band Molly Hatchet in November in Orange Park, Fla..
Myers said he wants to take this career as far as it will go. His short-term dream gig would be a return to Philadelphia. The Preston & Steve show has given his music some play on WMMR 93.3-FM.
“It’s not just to play a show,” said Myers, who added he loved his time in Philadelphia through the ups and downs. “I want to show these people that we are the real deal, not just messing around. My band members are established musicians who have all played in the [Wells Fargo Center]. Right now, I’d take the [Fillmore Philadelphia] with 1,000 people showing up.
“This is my job now. This is what I want to do. If people came to a show, I think we would surprise them and entertain them.”