Ryan Raburn: the Second Most Interesting Man in the World
Major League utility man. Owner of a new contract. Barrel racer. Devoted to his faith.
Ryan Raburn could be the (second) Most Interesting Man in the World.
Raburn’s comeback in 2013 has been well documented, so let’s start with his offseasons. As if Raburn’s regular season is not hectic enough, he returns home to Balm, Fla. – southeast of Tampa — each offseason to spend time in the outdoors (his favorite activity) and following his wife’s barrel races, which are horseback riding races in small arenas in the south.
Though Raburn opts to stay off the horses and cheer from the stands, he has developed a pretty good understanding of the sport.
“They have basically three barrels in an arena in a triangle, and you go around each barrel for a timed event,” he said. “During the offseason, it could be twice a week or once every couple weeks, depending on what races are around.”
Raburn, meanwhile, said he cannot get enough of the outdoors when he gets time off from baseball.
“I do a lot of hunting [and] a little fishing,” he said. “That’s all we do is spend our time outside. My daughter loves being outside. She rides now; she’s got her own horse.”
Although Raburn’s teammates have yet to see him ride a horse, shoot a deer or bait a hook, they know his value to the team. Outfielder Michael Brantley recently complimented Raburn’s play, saying he is always “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.”
Needless to say, Ryan Raburn has made an impression on the entire organization in his limited role as a bench player this season.
Raburn can look forward to being a part of the Indians roster next year, after being granted a two-year contract extension through the 2015 season, with a club option for 2016.
“It’s been pretty great. I’m just really trying to focus on having fun; last year wasn’t that fun,” Raburn said. “The team that we’ve got here has definitely been a treat to be around and come to the ballpark every day to enjoy myself and enjoy playing the game; really, that’s all I’ve been focusing on.
“I don’t think chemistry can win games; I think chemistry can make a season a lot more enjoyable. I know from experience, when it’s tough to come to the ballpark and you don’t have that drive to want to play, most of the time you’re not going to succeed. Just to be able to come here, have fun, enjoy playing the game, better things are going to come out.”
After a subpar 2012 season with the Detroit Tigers, Raburn has mounted an impressive comeback, though he’s currently out of the lineup and struggling with lower leg injuries. Batting .272 with 15 home runs and 41 RBI in 71 games, he is a big reason the Tribe is still competing with the Tigers in the Central Division.
“I don’t really think about [Detroit] as much,” he said. “I think of it as a pleasure to come back and show myself and other people that I can still play. I’m just thankful for the opportunity that Cleveland gave me; if it means going against my old team and beating them, then that just adds to the good things that have been coming.
“I’m just trying to enjoy myself, have fun and realize that no matter what happens, tomorrow’s always a new day.”
His ability to light a spark, Brantley said, has been key for the Indians this season.
“As a bench player, he steps in at great times and picks us up,” Brantley said. “He’s a great right-handed bat with a lot of pop. He’s awesome around the locker room, keeps everything loose in the dugout, and he’s fun to be around. It’s fun having him on our team.”
Engulfed in baseball-related activities for much of the year, Raburn always has turned to his faith to find comfort and consistency throughout all of the ups and downs.
Raburn’s father, who has been a Christian preacher for 32 years, had a huge impact on his son’s life at a young age. Raburn learned much about his faith as a child, and he has never wandered far from those beliefs.
“[Faith] plays a huge role in [my life],” Raburn said. “I was born and raised in a Christian environment. I believe everything that’s happened for me has been because of the Lord; I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Him.”
Working in the baseball industry, which involves an exhausting amount of travel, can make it difficult to practice one’s faith during the season.
Raburn described his faith almost as a mindset, explaining that he carries it with him wherever he goes.
“It’s tough, but it’s how we were raised; that’s just what I believe,” he said. “I put my trust in Him, and everything else will just fall into place. It’s tough to keep that straight and narrow line, but we just always remember that He’s there for us whenever we need Him.”
The Indians made it a point this season to take time out of their day on Sundays and get together for chapel with anyone who is interested in attending.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially when we’re on the road all the time; we’re never living where we [normally] live,” Raburn said. “It’s nice to have a place for guys to gather and learn more about the Lord; you can never learn enough. It’s great to be around a group of guys that have the same beliefs and same interests as I have.”
–TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden