Some kids are introduced to the sport of baseball with a brand-new glove and a game of catch, but Trey Bowden’s introduction to the game is one that would leave many starstruck.
Bowden, a sophomore outfielder for the Northern Kentucky baseball team, quite literally grew up in the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals clubhouses. His father, Jim, was general manager for a combined 16 years between the two teams, giving Trey an experience baseball fans can only dream of.
“I was raised in a locker room and I obviously grew to love the sport because of how much time I spent with it,” says Bowden. “I remember once we were with the Nationals that it really set in that I really wanted to play baseball and that I really enjoyed the sport. I used to fly to D.C. over the summer and on the weekends whenever I could during school. I really got to develop a lot of relationships and I saw every part of the game and how a major league team runs and functions. I couldn’t avoid baseball and I feel really fortunate about that.”
His father, who now works as a sports personality on MLB Network Radio and writes for The Athletic, can attest to how formative Trey’s surroundings were to who he’d become.
“Trey understood at a very young age the importance of learning and not yet having the answers,” says Jim Bowden. “From being around major league players, managers, coaches and scouts, he learned work ethic, how to be a good teammate, how to treat people right, how to lead and how to be focused. So, a lot of traits you see with major league players at the highest level, he was fortunate enough to grow up around. That was the normal for him.”
Work ethic was an especially important trait that Trey learned once he started playing baseball. He’ll be the first to tell you that he never set the world on fire with raw talent, but instead he had to do the best with what he was given.
“I was never a guy with natural ability, but I loved it so much and I worked really hard at it” says Bowden. “When I went to Highlands High School, that’s when I really started pursuing Division I baseball and I knew with my work ethic that I could get there.”
Despite not being the most athletically gifted, Bowden overcame that obstacle and made his dream of playing college baseball come true, something his father was even surprised happened.
“When I look at Trey, I think he certainly was able to succeed at a level that none of us ever expected, but I don’t think I ever expected him to grow up to play college baseball,” says Jim. “He had a thirst for learning. He wasn’t the most God-given, gifted person, but he made that up by how hard he worked. He deserves a lot of credit for always working to make sure he was as physically strong and flexible as possible. He wasn’t afraid to outwork his teammates or peers, but he also did it in the humblest way.
“When people want something bad enough, they’ll surpass whatever it is and they’ll find a way. Most of the successful people I’ve been around, whether it be MLB players, NFL players, actors, singers or people in the business world or politics, they all have that same kind of drive or ignore obstacles and what people think someone’s potential is.”
As he enjoys being a Division I baseball player, Bowden knows that his playing career will end someday, but that won’t stop him from making baseball a career. While he was toiling away in high school at becoming an adept player, he also discovered another passion: following his father’s footsteps and becoming a broadcasting personality. Bowden joined Highlands High School’s broadcasting department as a sports reporter and loved every second of it.
“During that time, I interviewed Doris Burke from ESPN, Billy Hamilton and Todd Frazier to name a few,” he says. “I really got into it because I saw my dad was still able to be around the game, and I know very well I’m no draft guy or major leaguer, but I’m definitely in love with the sport and want to continue on after college and be a personality on TV or radio.”
Mirroring his playing career, Bowden’s pursuit toward making baseball a career continued from there. Last summer he was a jack-of-all-trades intern for the Reds, helping out in communications, gameday productions and social media for the organization. His favorite part of the experience was interacting with players, from getting to know outfielder Jesse Winker really well to interviewing pitcher Luis Castillo. Since then, he’s also enrolled in a podcasting class at NKU to enhance his craft.
“It’s just like baseball because you have to work at it” he says. “I can’t just sit back and say my dad is this and that, so I’m going to be like that. That’s just not how it works. I can’t just be good, I need to be great at it.”
When asked what his dream scenario was for the future, Bowden had plenty in mind, but he also simply just wanted to work in baseball, whatever it was, because it’s the air he breathes.
“The dream is to get a job anywhere that revolves around baseball,” he says. “I’d love to someday make it with a major league team as a Marty Brennaman or Thom Brennaman type of deal, where I stick with a team for 30-plus years. I’m also leaning toward getting on a network and being a field reporter and also writing articles like my dad does with The Athletic. As long as I’m around the sport of baseball, I’d be a happy man.”
–Robby JohnsonAthletic Communications Graduate Assistant (WSOC/MSOC/BASE)Communications and Media ServicesNorthern Kentucky University