One of the most successful, talented and influential country music artists of all time is Garth Brooks. We had the pleasure of spending time with him while he was in Bradenton, Florida, signed with the Pittsburg Pirates for Spring Training. And yes, I am meaning that Garth Brooks signed a contract to a baseball team for a week. While it was for charity, he did take it very seriously, and practiced and trained with the team.

We asked him what made him decide to do this and he said, “It’s the 20th Anniversary of Teammates. If you were alive twenty years ago, we started this thing with the Padres. Launched the foundation, now the foundation is 20 years old. Teammates for Kids, we had thirty something baseball players sign up the first year. Now, we’re four thousand professional athletes strong: MLB, hockey, football, golf, soccer, basketball, NASCAR and rodeo. They’ve all joined together for the kids, its been good. The Bucs (Pittsburg Pirates) have been kind of my team, since I was a baby. So as a foundation you’re working with all these teams, and just kind of keep quiet about who your guys are. On the 20th anniversay, we just need to get to wear the black and gold, this is what I was raised on. Roberto Clemente was my hero, other than my dad and my brothers, he was the guy.”

I asked Garth if he got in shape for this and he said, “You know what? It’s weird, you can’t get in shape. You can run miles, you can do anything, and you can do stadium tours. This is a whole different shape right here. So it’s just what it is, and it makes me feel good when the young guys are sore. I feel good, I was working, trying to get ahead. The crazy thing is what these guys will do, if I understand it right, these guys will use the whole season to get to where they want to be in October. So that’s kind of what you do, you pick something, you keep working on it and working on it, once it becomes second nature, then you pick the next thing. And you just keep working on it, that’s all we’re doing. I’m just trying to not let the game be ahead of me right now, so I’m just trying to get that first move in. These guys are being very sweet, they all treat you like a teammate. When you say, ‘Hey, man, I don’t want to get in the way,’ he goes, ‘Hey, you’re wearing the uniform.’ It’s a sweet thing. So you just get in there, take your cuts, be one of them. Be as best as you can, respect the game, respect the players, and thank everybody for their time here. It’s awfully sweet. They don’t know it; they’re bringing a lot of attention to a foundation that raises a lot of money for kids in need, so that makes me feel good about it.”

Garth has always been amazing to his fans, probably better then most, always taking time out for fans and listening to their stories. Garth says, “It’s good, because everyone here just wants to tell you that they played ‘The Dance’ or ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ as their wedding song or first dance as husband and wife, or first dance with their mom or dad. That’s cool, if you ain’t got time to listen to those, I don’t know why you’re in this business. So it’s cool.”

Garth is in the midst of his stadium tour and I asked him if participating in Spring Training with the Pittsburg Pirates helped him getting prepared for the tour. He said, “Yeah, it sure as hell doesn’t hurt. It’s all totally different muscles, but just getting outside, getting to breathe deep, starting to get the lungs ready. I’ll be honest, that last tour, all we were doing is rolling into a city going, ‘”How can I save my voice?’ This one, you get to roll into a city going, ‘All right, let’s blow it out. Let’s have some fun.’ Because I’m gonna have time to recover, I am gonna have time to heal and go again. So this is probably the tour I’m looking the most forward to than any tour we’ve ever done, even the comeback tour. During the Comeback tour, I was scared shitless. But this one, I’m more eager, and more hungry for it. It’s good!”

I asked Garth what should fans expect from this tour and he responded, “The main thing. If you’ve ever been to a buffet, order two of them. I’m telling you, order two ‘all you can eats’ right there, because this is gonna be all the stuff. When people walk away going, ‘I wish you’d have played, or I wish you had played this,’ there ain’t gonna be nothing they can think of. It’s gonna be fun, because we’re just going to line it up and just start dishing it out. It’s gonna be good!”

Garth has a new album coming out, but when ask how much of the new material is gonna be on the new tour, he stated, “We’ll see, it’s up to them. Nothing pisses me off more than going to see somebody I love and they just dump a whole new album on me. I’m not ready for it yet. But we’ve been lucky, we’ve had ‘All Day Long’ out there for a while and now we’ve got ‘Stronger Than Me.’ We’ve got a couple of songs that I’m interested in trying out; one’s called ‘The Road I’m On,’ it’s kind of written for that. A sweet kid by the name of Randall King. You’ll be interviewing him soon, he’ll be the next thing in country music. Good kid. We might even try a thing called ‘Dive Bar,’ it’s kind of fun. But this whole record is kind of fun, so that’s why that’s the name of it. This has been a blast. Players coming in, really not in any hurry. Just writing and recording things that make you laugh, make you stronger.”

Garth stepped away from touring a while back to spend time with his family and watch his kids grow up. Garth says, “People ask me if I missed touring, and if I would have been going to something that I didn’t love as much, I would have missed it. Those kids, if you’ve ever been a parent, it’s the greatest thing on the planet. The crazy thing is, I miss my kids. They’re off doing their thing and they’ve got to, because we all do. We all have our turn, so you gotta go off and do that thing, but I miss them. Music’s fine, music was a great way to not face the empty nest syndrome, because my mom had a real hard problem with that. Last of six kids, so I didn’t have to face the empty nest syndrome. I was with the love of my life, with my best friends touring, and my girls were in that place where they didn’t have time to pick up the phone. So it all worked out good. So the stadium tour, I’m looking forward to now the good blend, because we’re not out 391 dates this time. This time we’re out over three years, maybe 30 dates over the three years, ten a year. Gonna be big, big nights, that’s our job, right? But then you get to balance getting to be with the babies, getting to do the thing you fell in love with after you fell in love with music, and that’s children. It’s really, really good, so I think its the best of both worlds, good Lord willing, and I’m just gonna enjoy it!”

When we asked if his wife, Trisha Yearwood, would be part of this tour, Garth said, “You know the thing with Trisha is, be careful if you invite her because if you invite her, she’s gonna steal the show. She just does. She’s not trying to. Everybody loves Trisha! So we talked to her about doing this thing called, “Trisha’s Tailgate,” it’s this big ass tent that we put up at Notre Dame. So in the afternoon before the show, what the agency wanted to do. I don’t care who you are, 2:00 in the afternoon on a 125 degree field, by the time you get there, that crowd’s not going to be the crowd you want them to be. So I say we’ve got to find some other way for these people to spend their day and make it a whole day. I said, “Trisha’s Tailgate.” So now they buy tickets for that, they go into Trisha’s Tailgate, there’s food, she does cooking demonstrations, they play music the whole time, she’s got her books there. So it’s great. Every mother/daughter that you can imagine at Notre Dame was in that tent all afternoon. And then here’s the part that didn’t piss me off, but it’s why you don’t invite her. They had to manually close it down and force people into the stadium for the show, because they were having such a good time. I was like, ‘Thanks a lot.’ And that’s not a statement of humbleness, that’s a statement of honesty. I was like, ‘Honey, you’re gonna have to shut your program down, so your husband can do something!'”

Garth tells us the one thing that’s on his bucket list is, “I just want one more day because, think about it, children are healthy, they’re happy. The love of your life is healthy and happy, good Lord willing, and these people are still showing up and I’m 100. That’s pretty good, I’ll take one more day of it!”

Garth is currently on his new stadium tour, so if you have the opportunity to check out his amazing new tour, you won’t be disappointed!