Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky of Maury County to the studio to discuss his past life in the world of football and professional baseball.
Leahy: In studio state representative Scott Cepicky. I’m learning all these great things about you. I had no idea. Representing Maury County. So there you are at the University of Wisconsin on a football scholarship. Four years as the starting punter. Now did you ever make it to the Rose Bowl or any bowl?
Cepicky: No. There’s going to be something happening in the General Assembly in April. I’m not going to announce that right now. We’re working on something very big with literacy.
Leahy: Okay, good.
Cepicky: But I’m going to tie that literacy thing that’s going to happen on the house floor to something that happened to me back in 1984 in a Hall of Fame bowl.
Leahy: Okay. Oh, you made the Hall of Fame Ball.
Cepicky: We did.
Leahy: That it’s fun to play in a Hall of Fame Ball.
Cepicky: Birmingham, Alabama against Kentucky.
Leahy: So you also played baseball? You are a first baseman?
Leahy: And you graduated from the University of Wisconsin and you get drafted by the White Sox. How’s that work?
Cepicky: The year before I was picked up, I was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Leahy: Oh, for football.
Cepicky: And I played there for four weeks into pre-season campus as a punter.
Leahy: So you were in the NFL?
Cepicky: For Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings?
Leahy: Really? What was like that?
Cepicky: Pretty intimidating.
Leahy: I can imagine. (Laughs)
Cepicky: But it turned into a business. It’s a business decision to make up there. And as a punter, there’s only one.
Leahy: There’s only one. You either make it or you don’t.
Cepicky: It was very difficult.
Leahy: So what was it like? What is it when they tell you goodbye and good luck? What’s that like?
Cepicky: Real quick story. I’m sitting in our dorm room.
Leahy: Bangels or Vikings?
Cepicky: Bengals. The first time I’ve ever been cut from anything. And we’re sitting there. It’s about four o’clock in the morning and there’s a proverbial knock on the door.
Leahy: Knock on the door.
Cepicky: Well, so I’m sitting there and I wake up. We both wake up, Derek and myself. He was a nose guard from Ohio State. Derek hadn’t played a game had not gotten in one time. And I played every game, and I’m sitting here going, Okay, relax. Help this guy out the first time.
Leahy: It’s probably Derek.
Cepicky: Right. He goes to the door, opens the door, and the coach says, hey, Cepicky, the coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.
Leahy: When they say bring your playbook…
Cepicky: It means you’re gone.
Leahy: It means you’re gone. So how do you feel at that moment?
Cepicky: You don’t know how to react. It’s something that’s never happened to you in your life. And so Coach Sam White cuts me. That day I put everything together, and I’m going back home from Cincinnati from St. Louis…
Leahy: And so you’re feeling kind of bad.
Cepicky: And so do you remember the old brick phones? My brick phone rang somewhere in Indiana. And it’s my agent saying, hey, by the way, you just got picked up by the Vikings. You’ve got to get to the airport in four hours and get on a plane to Minnesota.
Leahy: That’s weird.
Cepicky: Well, I was about five hours away. (Leahy laughs) I can tell you this. I made it.
Leahy: You made it.
Cepicky: I fly in and I get to Minnesota. I spend another week there, the last week of a preseason camp. And I knew it wasn’t a good situation when they brought four punters in at the same time.
Leahy: The odds are not really looking good.
Cepicky: So I’m getting on a plane after I got cut from Minnesota, waiting to go back to St. Louis.
Leahy: So when they cut you in Minnesota, you’re not really all that upset.
Cepicky: I’m not really attached. I’m sitting at the airport. My brick phone rings and it’s my baseball coach, Steve, from Wisconsin.
Leahy: Are you kidding me?
Cepicky: He said, What are you doing? And I said, Well, I just got cut. I’m going home. He said, well, we’re a week away from school starting and you have another year of school left and we’ll be happy to scholarship you, because I was an all Big 10 baseball player the year before. Come back and finish your last year and finish your degree. So I called my mom and I said, hey, can you and dad come up next week to Wisconsin and bring my stuff? I changed my flight from St. Louis to Madison, went back to school, and then I got drafted by the White Sox.
Leahy: Okay, so how do you hear you are drafted by the White Sox?
Cepicky: So we were playing a baseball game late in the year, and I knew that I was being recruited. Now I’m a 50 or senior. So you’re not going to get the big money. And I get a phone call that the White Sox are going to pick me in the 23rd round.
Leahy: Because they have, like, 30 rounds in baseball, right?
Cepicky: They had 115 back then.
Leahy: They did? Wow. I didn’t even make it to 116.
Cepicky: So I’m 21 years old, 22 years old and I get picked on 23rd round. I’m in rookie ball. And I’m the oldest guy by two years.
Leahy: Isn’t that something? The rookie balls are all so young.
Cepicky: They’re babies.
Leahy: And there are very few college people in rookie ball.
Cepicky: Very few. I ended up going and I played rookie ball very well.
Leahy: So where did you play rookie ball? In Florida or Arizona?
Cepicky: At the time I was in Sarasota, Florida. I did very well and came back next year. Then I went to South Bend, Indiana in low A.
Leahy: We know this from tracking Tim Tebow’s adventures. So you are low A.
Cepicky: Low A in South Bend and went to batting title in there. Next year, I go to the high Florida State League and back to C in Sarasota. Was named MVP of the league there.
Leahy: Okay, so it’s looking good.
Cepicky: I’m on the right trajectory. Next year, go to lead the league in RBI’s in AA.
Leahy: Where? Was it the Birmingham Barons?
Cepicky: Birmingham Barons. That’s when I had my first stent down in Venezuela.
Leahy: Okay, so you played winter ball in Venezuela.
Cepicky: In Venezuela.
Leahy: And as I told you during the break, I’ve been in that stadium in Caracas, Venezuela, or one of the main stadiums when I was a high school kid. I was down there and watched Vick Davalio a Venezuelan play ball.
Cepicky: So I went down to Venezuela and had an incredible year. My nickname down there was El Toro.
Leahy: El Toro the bull!
Cepicky: I worked very hard learning Spanish down there. And by the end of the year, I was giving my interviews in Spanish. Led the league in home runs, led the league in RBI’s, finished third and batting title. And won the league in MVPs.
Leahy: Okay, so let me just say right now, you’re thinking I’m going to the big League.
Cepicky: I’m going to the big leagues. So we get back from Venezuela. I sign a split contract, which means I’m going to be on the big league roster, but I have a contract just in case I go back and forth.
Leahy: Okay, this is good.
Cepicky: We are a week away from reporting the spring training and big league camp. Right now, I’m a projected left field starter for the White Sox.
Leahy: Oh, sure. Your leftfield now.
Cepicky: Leftfield starter.
Leahy: Okay. Not first base, left field.
Cepicky: They got me way far away from the action as they could because I could hit.
Leahy: Okay, so you were a good hit.
Leahy: How’s that?
Cepicky: I could field my position.
Leahy: There you go.
Cepicky: And it’s Monday morning. I’m sitting at the breakfast table with my dad getting ready to go to work out. And we’re watching Sports Center, and they announce a blockbuster trade between the Chicago White Sox and the Montreal Expos. Tim Raines is coming to the Chicago White Sox.
Leahy: And who’s going to the Expos?
Cepicky: Well, I’m sitting here to myself and I look at my dad, and I’m like, well, Tim Raines, plays leftfield. (Leahy laughs) Am I gonna go to Montreal? Which to me is even better.
Leahy: More chances to play.
Cepicky: If you go to Montreal, somebody’s gonna pick you up. The phone rings literally, like, a minute after that and it’s the general manager, Jerry Ryan calls me on the phone.
Leahy: The owner calls you? That was nice the owner called you.
Cepicky: And he said, by the way, have you been watching TV today? I said you mean Sports Center? He said, yes. I said, yes sir I have been watching Sports Center. He said, well, I’m sorry you heard had to hear it over Sports Center. So I’m thinking he’s going to say that I’ve been traded to Montreal. He said, well, Montreal wanted you in a straight-up trade for Tim Raines, and we said no. So we sent them six minor leaguers, but we’re going to send you back to AAA. You’re the insurance policy for Tim Raines.
Leahy: So right at that moment, you’re thinking, how did something so potentially good.
Cepicky: One week away…
Leahy: Go so bad?
Cepicky: So I ended up playing that year for the Sounds.
Leahy: So you played for the Nashville Sounds that year.
Cepicky: So I ended up playing or the Sounds that year.
Leahy: That your first time in Nashville. What was it like coming to Nashville? You’ve been all over the country first time in Nashville. You are playing AAA at the old Greer Stadium.
Cepicky: I got plugged into it. I’ll tell you why Nashville so endearing to me. When I was playing for the Nashville Sounds, there was a thing called Jerry House and the House Foundation. I knew Devon O’Day very well.
Leahy: Jerry House right here on iHeart.
Cepicky: I had spent time with Tracy Byrd. I knew him. I knew them all here on Music Row. Spent a lot of time here.
Leahy: You’ve been to Music Row before. This is not your first rodeo on Music Row.
Cepicky: Well, when you’re 24 years old, 25 years old…
Leahy: You’re gonna hang out on Music Row if you are playing for the Nashville Sounds.
Cepicky: And so I did that for a year. Had an okay year. Very discouraged, very tough.
Leahy: But I think a little bit of this is the timing because sometimes people if you’re expecting to go to the bigs and they send you to AAA as much as you love Nashville, you sort of kind of like thinking, what’s going on here?
Cepicky: They optioned me down to AA because that team had a chance to win the championship and they needed to hitter down there. Spent the end of that year in Birmingham, we won the southern championship next year, go back to the White Sox and that’s when a guy named Michael Jordan decides to play baseball. So I’m back in AAA. They have in the locker room it’s me, Michael Jordan, and Brad Commons because they sandwich dust on either side of Michael, because to me, he was just Michael Jordan. Just another baseball player.
Leahy: So you’re playing where at this time?
Cepicky: AAA with the White Sox in spring training.
Leahy: Oh, in spring training. So you’re playing with Michael Jordan?
Leahy: Interesting. More with Scott Cepicky when we get back we’ll continue. This is turning into your professional baseball career more than it is your legislative agenda. But we’ll get to the legislative agenda, I promise.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.