Sonny Gray USA Today

Sonny Gray is coming off a stellar 2023 All-Star campaign. After a 2.79 ERA with 183 strikeouts in 184 innings in the regular season, he gets the nod as the Twins ALDS Game 3 starter.

While he’s finishing his 11th season in Major League Baseball, it was also his time playing quarterback for his high school football team that has helped him thus far in the journey.

The grinder approach is something that has stayed with Gray all of these years.

“I got a ton from playing football, not only in high school, but throughout my life,” Gray told the media on Monday. “I’ve said this a lot, football might be my favorite sport. I love football. I loved playing football. There was nothing like — there’s nothing like that.”

The Twins will face the Houston Astros Tuesday which will have Gray facing a devastating lineup. Especially on the offensive side.

Gray led the Smyrna High School football team to back-to-back 5A State Titles in 2006 and ’07. With that, in addition to his baseball skills, he was voted Gatorade Player of the Year by the Tennessean in 2007 and 2008.

“The way that a team truly has to come together in football, the way that it all kind of — especially playing quarterback. I mean, you’re in charge of all 11 guys that are out there,” Gray said. “You not only know what you have to do, but then you’re knowing what the left guard, left tackle, all the receivers, the running backs, you kind of know — you know what they have to do, and then you also know what the defense is doing.”

“There’s nothing like playing football, especially playing high school football. I was talking about this last week actually because we were talking about just kind of asking guys — obviously we have guys who have won a World Series, but then we kind of took it deeper. Have you ever won a championship in anything, this and that.”

He still utilizes those lessons in his pitching.

“My junior and senior year, we won two state championships. I know it’s not a World Series. It’s not this. But it was incredibly, incredibly special years of my life. And I felt it then, a team come together and get it, and make it, and win the ultimate thing, the state championship for us. We won it back-to-back years. I love playing football. I think a lot of the way that I do go out there and pitch does stem from how I played football.”

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for and NBC Sports Bay Area.