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No regrets for Vidalia native Barry Bowden

HATTIESBURG — After tearing his ulnar collateral ligament prior to spring training 2011, Barry Bowden had a tough decision to make.

The former Vidalia High School and Southern Mississippi pitcher underwent Tommy John Surgery in June 2011 and was faced with the possibility of grinding out his rehab or giving up baseball altogether.

After marrying the former Brooke Elizabeth Graves last November, Bowden, 27, said he felt like it was time to move on from baseball.

“Me getting married (factored into) the decision, and with my age it just got me thinking that I wanted to go ahead and move on with my life,” Bowden said.

Bowden said he made up his mind at the end of November last year that he would leave professional baseball behind.

“They understood,” Bowden said of the Royals organization. “Me being 27, I didn’t want to be breaking into the big leagues at age 30.”

A relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. Bowden put up a career ERA of 2.48 and a career WHIP of 1.094 in his first three seasons in the organization. He also struck 10.6 batters per nine innings.

In 2010, his final healthy season with the Royals, he made it as far as the organization’s Triple-A team. Even with a promising career cut short, Bowden said he didn’t have any regrets about how things happened.

“I got to travel around pretty much coast to coast in the United States,” Bowden said. “I met a lot of great people. I never got to the big leagues, but I don’t have any regrets when I look back. It was just time for me to move on.”

Bowden lives in Hattiesburg with his wife, who works for the Petal School District as a teacher. He’s employed by Baker Hughes oilfield services in Laurel, and he said he’s enjoying his post-baseball life.

“I’m loving it. On the weekends, I get to spend time with my family. I’m on my way back now from Orange Beach seeing (my wife’s) family,” Bowden said Tuesday.

“I’ve had several fishing trips I’ve been able to go on, whereas I’d normally be doing baseball right now. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I miss baseball, of course, but there are different things to look forward to.”

Even though he’s away from the game, Bowden didn’t completely rule out the possibility that he might get back involved in baseball one day.

“I’m not going to say not, because you never know down the road whether you might want to get into coaching, but right now, I’m happy with what I’m doing,” Bowden said.

Bowden’s parents still live in the Miss-Lou, and he said he visits often to see them, along with his hunting camp.

“We have a bunch of members, 15 or so, and every so often we all get together throughout the year to have a work weekend,” Bowden said. “I’m sure that’s not too far down the road.”

Bowden also said he keeps in touch with former Vidalia teammate Jarrett Hoffpauir, who’s current in the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A organization.

“He’s just hanging in there and grinding it out, waiting for his chance,” Bowden said. “I know he’s got the talent and willpower, it’s just all about getting that break.”