Beyond the Diamond

Driving onto the Beckett’s Hill Country ranch, you get a deep sense of Texas country living. The sprawling 115 acres are picturesque with distant hills splashed against rich blue sky. From the moment you enter you are greeted with beautiful trees peppered across the property, all changing colors in the crisp fall air.

The porch of their beautiful ranch home is covered with Christmas décor seemingly in mid-design. Wreaths, trees, green, red and gold create an inviting Texas Christmas vibe. Josh stands towering in the front door and welcomes us in.

For Beckett, a Spring native, Texas has always been home. As a former Major League Baseball pitcher, Josh has seen a lot of the country. After his brilliant high school career, Josh was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1999 draft. After 4 years in sunny Miami, Josh was traded on Thanksgiving Day in 2006 to the Boston Red Sox. Josh would spend another 6 years on the East coast before moving teams once again in 2012, this time to sunny Los Angeles where he would spend his last two years with the Dodgers.

But some where in all that, going from south to east to west, and traveling across the country in between, Texas never left Josh’s heart.

“There is something weird about Texas guys,” Beckett said. “I met a lot of them through the years playing, and it seemed like none of us ever moved. A lot of guys would adopt the city where they were playing and stay there. I never did that.”

Despite spending months away from home, at the end of every season, Josh would make his way back.

“I always foresaw myself coming back, and I did, every year in the off season,” he said. “I never spent an off season away from Texas.”

So much of what makes Beckett who he is, has to do with where he makes his home. Josh and his wife, Holly bought their Hill Country home three years ago and have since settled into the life out here.

“I’m not a slow person,” Beckett said. “I like to stay busy. I like to be going and getting stuff done. I’m not a guy who just has somebody come and do everything for me.”

But, in spite of his admittedly active nature, he has found that they enjoy the slowness of the Hill Country.

“When we want to slow down, that’s the way the Hill Country is. That’s the way Boerne is,” he said. “It’s nice to live back here away from the hustle and bustle.”

GOLF AND CORDILLERA RANCH

Having lived in central Texas for a few years now, Josh has lived in a couple different spots and played around the area, but there was something special about Cordillera Ranch that led him to become a member.

“A lot of friends who are members there, talked to me about it,” he said. “I went out there enough times with them and I got to meet more guys, meet more of the people. Holly got to meet the wives of a lot of the guys I played golf with.”

For the Beckett’s, finding a community they loved didn’t require a big city. It was just about finding people they could actually connect with.

“That’s what Cordillera Ranch is all about,” he said. “The golf course is obviously awesome, but it’s about the people more than anything.”

Josh start playing golf not too long after he was drafted. A fellow minor leaguer told him to get some clubs and 16 years later, he’s never looked back. And getting to play at Cordillera Ranch is a huge benefit to living in the Hill Country.

“Golf, to me, is about that competitiveness with yourself but I enjoy playing golf with other people,” he said. “I like the s**t -talking, the banter. I like everything that comes with golf.”

Josh says that when he started, he found that it was a lot like pitching.

“I’m a competitive guy, and it’s one of those sports where you’re not just playing against the guys you are with, but you’re playing against the golf course, you’re playing against the game itself, and I don’t think it’s something you ever really master.”

Playing golf became a regular thing for Beckett, he says it was something he could do between starts. Eventually, fate would bring the two games together like he never expected. Earlier this year, on Memorial Day weekend, Beckett and the Dodgers were in Philadelphia to play the Phillies. On his day off, just like he’d done many times before, Josh went to play golf. But not just any course. That day, Josh was invited to play at Pine Valley Golf Club, the number one rated course in the US. An opportunity that could only be matched by what would happen that Sunday. As the starting pitcher for Sunday’s game, Josh would go on to do what most Major League pitchers never accomplish – he pitched a no-hitter, the first of his career. It was a weekend he wouldn’t forget – two rare events happening so closely together.

Josh has played his share of great courses, Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, LA Country Club, Bel-Air Country Club, The Cal Club in San Francisco, and Pine Valley. But when he’s home, Cordillera Ranch is were you’ll find him.

“Every year going to spring training in February, I’d have that one last round at Cordillera and I’d ask myself, ‘Why am I leaving?’” he said.

 

ON THE RANCH

Just 28 miles southeast of Cotulla, Texas, is a place you’ll find Beckett if you don’t find him in the Hill Country. A 7,000-acre spread of the finest South Texas land called Herradura Ranch. Beckett’s ranch is very much his second home. Even though they offer commercial hunting, the ranch is a family place. Since he was young, Josh says that his dad was into hunting and anything outdoors. It’s a lifestyle that has never left.

“Anytime I’m at the ranch my family is with me. We have our own little place out there,” he said.

Whether it’s fishing, hunting or mending fences, the South Texas life is a big part of his. Josh says he isn’t one to just let other people do things for him. If he’s out there, he’s working and if he’s not working, he’s hunting.

Unlike pitching or golf, hunting is a change of pace. It’s slower and quieter. It’s brings a kind of balance to the things he loves to do.

“I love being out there at five in the morning – you can see but the sun’s not up yet. Just being by yourself in a blind and respecting God’s creation,” he said.

Hunting and living life on the ranch is in his blood, it’s very much of part of who he is.

“Whenever I’m leaving the gate, I already know when I’m coming back,” he said.

 

FOR A CAUSE

It’s clear that off of the pitchers mound, Beckett loves two things, hunting and golf. A few years ago, he decided to take those two passions and use them for a good cause which is when Beckett and his friend radio host, Rusty Baker, began a celebrity charity event.

“It started out at the ranch, we did a doe hunt,” Beckett said. “We donated all the meat to Hunters for the Hungry. We had a bunch of celebrities there, comedians and country music artists, playing guitar and telling jokes.”

For four years they held the event at the ranch, and despite people excitement every year, they didn’t seem to be raising the kind of funds they wanted.

“I think the first year we raised $5000,” he said. “The next couple years it was four then six.”

Three years ago, Beckett and Baker decided to move the celebrity charity event to the Hill Country and to change it from a hunt to a golf tournament and that’s when it really took off.

“It just exploded,” Beckett said. “Since we turned it into a golf tournament… we’ve gone over $2 million that we’ve donated.”

The money that the event raises is donated to Show of Support, a non-profit started by Terry Johnson, takes wounded warriors on hunting trips. While they are off hunting, they also take their spouses and children and treat them as well.

“Whether it’s a man or woman, coming back from war, they are trying to get back to some kind of normalcy,” Beckett said. “Sometimes just going deer hunting gets them back to what they’re used to. They do stuff for the whole family and it’s just awesome.”

Josh says the celebrity event attracts everyone from professional golfers, baseball players and football players to many musicians, especially Texas country artists.

 

QUITE A CAREER

This past season with the Dodgers would be Beckett’s last. Battling several different injuries he officially retired in October after 13 amazing seasons in the majors.

Josh’s career was one that many major leaguers never accomplish. He won the 2003 World Series with the Florida Marlins, a team that was never expected to.

“I don’t think any of us would have believed if you had told us at the beginning of the year that we would win the World Series,” he said. “I’ll never be a part of anything that was that tight-knitt.”

Beckett won the World Series MVP that year. He would play a couple more seasons with Florida before being traded to the Boston Red Sox in 2006. Once again, Josh would join a team that was making history. A year after Florida had won the series, Boston would make a run in 2004 and end an 86 year “curse”. In 2007, with Beckett on board, Boston would make another run at the championship winning the World Series. That year, Josh won the American League Championship Most Valuable Player (MVP). Aside from his World Series wins and MVP awards, Beckett is a three-time MLB All-Star and had his no-hitter with LA in 2014.

“When it’s all said and done, you end up with memorabilia from three different teams and you don’t know which one to hang up,” he said.

Looking back at where his career had taken him, Beckett has a great perspective. He speaks with no regret, no lack of closure. He has worked hard to put himself in a place where he can continue to do the things he loves and he wears it proudly.

“Where I started was a perfect place for me to start and were I finished was a perfect place for me to end.”

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