Chad Bentz is a physical education major here at Castleton. He is 30-years-old and a former major league pitcher. He is currently on the Castleton football roster as a fullback. Bentz has a very long and impressive resume, but there is one thing that stands above everything he does.He does all this with only one hand.
Bentz is a lefty who was born with a right hand that just never grew fully, which left him without a developed right hand.
A native of Juneu, Alaska, he attended Juneau Douglas High School, and growing up he always had a love for both football and baseball. As graduation approached Bentz had a decision to make. He had multiple college offers for both football and baseball.
“I had a lot more offers for football than I ever did baseball,” Bentz said.
Eventually Bentz decided to go with baseball just simply because he was left-handed.
“I chose baseball because I’m left-handed and lefties are a commodity in baseball,” Bentz said.
Bentz claims if he were right handed he would have played both sports because he said his baseball career wouldn’t have been as successful.
“I always wonder where my life would have went if I chose football,” he said. “But I don’t regret choosing baseball.”
Bentz pitched for Long Beach State and later went into the major leagues where he pitched for the Montreal Expos in 2004 and the Florida Marlins in 2005. Some of his strikeout victims include some of baseballs greats like Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki.
After a short lived career in the majors Bentz played AAA ball and traveled a lot during the season. This became an issue when his wife of seven years Christie became pregnant. Bentz said his wife had grandparents in Vermont whom she was very close with. So the pair decided to move to Killington, Vermont and she could have her family around when he had to travel. Bentz now resides in West Rutland, Vermont.
Bentz enrolled in Castleton to get an education degree. On his first day of classes he had a few hours to kill before his next class so he decided to go visit a friend. Head football coach Rich Alercio. Bentz met Alercio when he coached his young son in baseball. He originally went in there for small talk and when he left he was a collegiate athlete again.
“I went in to say hello and see how the team was doing,” Bentz said.
Bentz said he was telling Alercio how he always wanted to play football and wishes he still could. To his surprise Alercio responded, “Why don’t you?”
“I thought he was joking. I asked if he was serious like five times,” Bentz said.
Coach Alercio even said that Bentz even called him afterwards and asked if this was real.
There was only one thing Bentz realized he had to do.
“I got to go check with the warden,” laughed Bentz. “I got to check with the Mrs.”
His wife gave him the go ahead and just like that Bentz was a college athlete again. But 12 years away from the game can make it a little harder to get back into it. On his first day of practice where he actually got to tackle someone Bentz thought he broke his collarbone.
“I just remember going as hard as I could and I remember seeing stars and I thought I broke my collarbone,’ Bentz said.
After seeing a trainer it seemed he was wrong and he would be able to keep playing. Bentz even scored his first collegiate touchdown on September 11 in a loss to Utica College.
Bentz is 6’2″ and 265 pounds and coach Alercio said since Bentz had been out of the game for so long he would have to bring him back slowly. Alercio said he is a “situational player.” He usually uses him in short-yardage situations. In the loss against Utica both times he tried for the first down on third and short he was successful. When the Spartans got near the goal line, Bentz crashed over for the touchdown.
Alercio had nothing but kind words to say about Bentz.
“He’s about as good a person as I’ve ever met,” said Alercio. “He never has anything negative to say about anyone. He’s a really positive influence and person.”
Alercio even mentioned how great Bentz is with kids and how his young son idolizes and adores Bentz.
Bentz knows how that feels. When he attended Long Beach State his head coach surprised him and he gave him a chance to meet his idol Jim Abbot, a major league pitcher who was also born without a right hand and pitched a no hitter for the Yankees.
“He was an inspiration. He gave me the courage to take my hand out of my pocket,” Bentz said.
Bentz says he still plans to get back in the major leagues and as far as footballs concerned he hasn’t ruled that out either.
“If I’m going to school full-time then why not. What else am I going to do?” Bentz asked