From the earliest moments of Ty Bothwell’s life, two enduring passions have left a lasting mark: baseball and animals.
Bothwell grew up in Hebron, Indiana with the dream of playing baseball at Indiana University.
“We were watching Indiana play in the College World Series when Ty was young, and the announcers said the coach would only recruit players that were over 6-foot. Ty was like, ‘I’ll never be able to get on that team. I’ll never be tall enough.’” Bothwell’s mom Mikki noted.
That did not stop Bothwell as he stands at 5-foot-10 entering his fifth and final season in a Hoosiers uniform.
During the 2023 season he made 14 appearances pitching 33 innings and held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in 12 of his appearances as Indiana advanced to the NCAA Regional tournament.
Aside from baseball, Bothwell always took interest in animals. This passion first came about when he and his family took a vacation to a reptile infested Florida.
“When my family and I went to Disney World when I was 5, I had more fun catching the little lizards than riding the rides,” Bothwell said.
During that same trip to Florida, he caught 12 Anoles, put them in a container and brought them home on the airplane to keep as pets.
“He talked about wanting to be a zookeeper since the trip to Florida,” Mikki expressed. “I don’t remember him ever wanting to do anything else.”
Bothwell found himself around animals constantly as he lived on a ranch and both of his parents competed in the International Professional Rodeo Association. His father, Todd, was a team roper, and his mother, Mikki, was a barrel racer.
“I actually wanted to be a professional bull rider in the rodeo when I was growing up before I really fell in love with baseball,” Bothwell mentioned.
Bothwell continued both passions through high school and college, and when it came to deciding where to play collegiate summer league baseball, he wanted the best of both worlds.
He started his collegiate summer career with the Macon Bacon in Macon, Georgia, but due to COVID-19 restrictions it wasn’t what he had hoped for.
The next summer he traveled to Morehead City, North Carolina to play for the Morehead City Marlins, and immediately fell in love. On the beach there were plenty of fish, lizards, and frogs along with a baseball team that didn’t know anything except for winning.
“We wanted to win, but we had a good balance between having fun and winning baseball games,” Bothwell said. “We would hang out on the beach and go fishing on off days, so we were able to find that good disconnect, and I was fortunate to be a part of it.”
That first season, he went a perfect 3-0, delivering 38 strikeouts in 27.1 innings pitched. He loved the people, baseball, and animal life, so he decided to return not once, but for the next two summers.
One significant factor that motivated his return was his host family, with whom he stayed for all three summers. They became like a second family to him throughout his time as a Marlin.
“They treated me like I was their middle son. It was really cool to be a part of a family that was always around each other and always getting together for dinner,” Bothwell shared.
When he arrived for the second summer in Morehead City, he was greeted by a new manager, Sam Carel. Carel had a notable impact on Bothwell’s time as a Marlin and even gave him the nickname that remained for the rest of his collegiate summer baseball career: Zookeeper.
During that season, Bothwell and the Marlins achieved the best record in the team’s history, finishing 37-10 before losing in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Bothwell once more went 3-0 with 36 strikeouts and a 1.57 ERA.
Upon Bothwell’s return for his third season, he encountered several familiar faces, including his teammate McGwire Tuffy, with whom he had shared the previous season. Tuffy began that same season on a temporary contract, but his performance earned him a full summer contract and a CPL All-Star selection. Throughout the season, Tuffy and Bothwell formed a strong bond, and they were enthusiastic about playing together for a second year.
“Behind the scenes he was just a character, a very goofy, but unbelievable kid. He came to the field every day with a smile on his face, always cracking jokes, and always uplifting,” Tuffy said.
The two went on to have another incredible season with the Marlins finishing as the number one seed in the CPL with a 32-15 record before being taken down in the semi-finals.
Bothwell ended his final season as a Marlin with a 4-1 record, pitching a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
Gearing up for his final season of college baseball, Bothwell headed back to Bloomington, Indiana this fall.
Bothwell said, “I’m just happy to be a part of it all. I want to help the team win. Hopefully, we make it past regionals this year; we were so close last year. I feel like I still have some unfinished business.”
Bothwell is currently committed to baseball, but after this chapter in his life concludes, he intends to apply his Animal Behavior degree to pursue his lifelong passion for the care of animals.