Mark was raised in Santa Fe Springs, California, a town of about 25,000 in which 90 percent of the land is zoned for commercial use. It is very near Los Angeles in Whittier, California. The son of a retired police officer—a motorcycle patrolman for the LAPD, Kotsay played sports year-round from the time he was five years old.
Kotsay has two older sisters and an older brother that died six says after birth. Both his parents were very involved in his baseball background, with his dad coaching him until he reached the high school varsity as a sophomore.
"Football was my joy and first love," Mark said. "I just didn't get tall enough. I was a quarterback and free safety in high school. Fresno State offered me a scholarship to play baseball and football."
- At age 6, Mark was a national champion BMX racer (off-road bicycles) in his age group. But he stopped racing when he was 7 because a teacher complained he was missing too much school.
- Mark is a very intelligent man.
At Cal State-Fullerton, he set several College World Series records: career batting average (.517), slugging percentage (1.103), grand slams (2), and homers (4).
And, in 1995, he was the closer for Cal State-Fullerton's College World Series championship team, posting a 0.31 ERA and 11 saves in 21 appearances. But despite his insistence that he can still "bring it," he's been unsuccessful in lobbying big-league managers to let him take the bump in blowouts.
- Kotsay is not a tools guy. But he is having a long career in the Majors because of his heart.
- In 1995, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player.
- In 1996, he hit three home runs in the Olympics for the bronze medal winning U.S. Olympic team.
- He lifts the level of everyone around him because of the way he goes about his business.
In 1997, Mark led the Eastern League in runs and was fifth in on-base percentage (.405). He was rated the #1 prospect in the loop.
In September 1997, when Mark and the Portland Sea Dogs hit the road for the Eastern League playoffs, Kotsay arranged for his Toyota 4Runner truck to be transported to his California home through an auto transport company.
"They told me they'd have it to me in less than two weeks," Mark said. He packed most of his belongings into the back of the truck, including his TV set, stereo, golf clubs and clothes. He also packed his 1996 U.S. Olympic team ring, as well as the one he'd received when his Cal State-Fullerton team won the College World Series in 1995. He realized that the fine print on the contract said that the company wasn't liable for items inside the car, but said that due to the intricate alarm system, no one could get into the vehicle without the keys.
After the playoffs, Mark went home and waited, and waited, and waited for his truck. He said he left several unreturned messages before the company finally returned a call telling him that his truck had been on a transport truck that had broken an axle in New Mexico, causing the delay. On Sept. 30, Kotsay's Mom got a call that the truck had arrived. She went to pick it up, opened the back, and found it empty. "No windows were busted and no locks were broken," Mark said. "So it had to be taken by someone who had the keys."
Mark has the makeup to push himself further.
"I was very disciplined as a kid," Kotsay said. "I was taught that nothing comes easy and to always work hard. Failure is not an option."
During the offseason before 1999 spring camp, Kotsay added 20 pounds and now has forearms and shoulders that are very impressive. He hit the weights and the diet supplements and also ate three meals a day. "During the season you only eat two meals a day, unless you get up early enough for breakfast," Mark said.
He was closely monitored by Marlins strength coach Rick Slate who made sure there was no loss of speed or flexibility.
- In 1999, Mark was elected the Marlins union player representative.
In May 1999, he told his teammates he would dye his hair blond if the Marlins had a winning road trip. They went 5-4 and Kotsay kept his promise. "I guess I'll leave it this way until it grows out," Mark said, amid clubhouse laughter.
In August 2000, Mark proposed to Jamie while the Marlins were on a road trip to Denver.
"We're walking down a Denver street, and there's this homeless girl," Jamie said. "She asked for money. Mark asked her how old she was, and she said 15. Her Mom had kicked her out, her stepfather beat her, and these two kids had taken her in and they were living on the streets. Mark asked her if she did drugs, and she said no, she swore she didn't. Then he folded a bill so she couldn't see and gave it to her.
"She walked over to the other kids and they opened it up. It was $50, and they started hugging each other and crying. Then we started walking and Mark stopped me and said, 'You know, we're so lucky to have each other. Let's spend the rest of our lives together.' No ring, nothing. Just a feeling—a moment. It was perfect."
Kotsay really likes married life, saying he is happier than he has ever been in his life.
Mark married the former Jamie Scott Oct. 27, 2000 on a beach in Kauaii, Hawaii. And marriage has mellowed Kots. He doesn't throw things around the clubhouse in fits of anger, like he used to. He is not as stress-filled.
She is from Carson City, Nevada, where her parents still reside. She has been a fashion model all over the country and in Europe. She lived in Italy for a year, lived in New York by herself. She travels more than he does.
- On April 12, 2004, Mark and wife Jamie celebrated the birth of their first child, daughter Grace. On August 4, 2005, their second daughter, Siena, was born. And a third child, son Trey, joined the family a couple of years later.
- Mark and his wife, Jamie, enjoy each other and their two daughters. He likes to play golf or go fishing, but mostly likes to be with his wife and three children.
- Kotsay's wife, Jamie, was No. 9 on Co-Ed magazine's "Top 20 Sexiest Athlete Wives of 2007."
On November 7, 2007, Mark and Jamie celebrated the birth of their third child, son Trey. He joins daughters Tracie and Grace.
"Family is very important to me," Mark said. "They're more important than my career. They do a lot for me."
Jamie is a former model who's worked in fashion capitals such as New York, Italy and Miami, appearing on magazine covers and in numerous retail campaigns, including Guess, Levis, Izod and Nordstrom. Jamie and Mark met at a party in Miami in 2000, when Mark was with the Marlins.
"We didn't date for a year," said Jamie, who began modeling at age 16 but "retired" so she could stay home with her children. "But once we dated, we were married within 10 months."
They originally lived in Nevada, where Jamie's parents are, but moved to San Diego in 2007 because they felt it was a good place to raise their family. (Gary Caruso-ChopTalk-March 2008) MOTORCYCLES IN THE FAMILY
- Mark's father was a motorcycle policeman for 22 years in the Los Angeles area and competed in such races as the legendary Barstow-Las Vegas run. "My Dad had some bad accidents and he never wanted me on one, although he taught me how to ride," said Kotsay, who has a Harley-Davidson low rider. "I'll ride occasionally after a day game, but baseball is my livelihood and I'm not taking chances. But you can step off the curb and get hit by a bus."
He is a team leader, at least by example.
"It's still difficult to see myself as a leader when so many players have had more time and success at the game then I've had," Kotsay said. "I'm not the vocal type of guy who is going to get on people and rant or rave in the clubhouse. There does come a time to assume more of a leadership role, but it's more when your peers look up to you as a leader. I feel more comfortable in helping someone like Xavier Nady—talking one-to-one off to the side."
"I've never been into supplements," Kotsay said. "I don't even take vitamins. I'd rather eat a hot dog than a protein shake. I'd rather drink a Coke instead of water."
Kotsay grew up in Southern California, not far from the ocean, but he long ago decided baseball smarts were more important than beach muscles.
"The supplement stuff, I've never done it," Kotsay said. "You have to believe in that stuff to make it work. The guys that I grew up watching, I don't think they were pounding supplement drinks. I don't think they were worrying about getting into the weight room and working on their beach muscles."
Kirk Gibson was the first player who came to Kotsay's mind. Dusty Baker, Bobby Grich, and Doug DeCinces were others he admired.
"Those guys just went out and played the game," Kotsay said. "It didn't seem, as a fan, they were anything other than just baseball guys." (John Suchon-Oakland Tribune-3/25/05)
Using a pink bat as part of baseball's annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Yankee Stadium on Mother's Day 2006, Kotsay homered off Randy Johnson in the first inning, prompting then-teammate Nick Swisher to marvel, "If going yard off 'Big Unit' at Yankee Stadium with a pink bat doesn't make you a stud, I don't know what does."
Kotsay has a fine wine collection.
"I don't have a good smile," Kotsay said. "If it's natural, it's okay. But if someone tells me to smile, it doesn't look right. I always have a crooked lip or something, so I don't do it. I can look angry and actually be very happy," the easy-going and friendly Kotsay said.
Mark was asked if he would've followed his father (Steve) into law enforcement if he had not played baseball. (Steve Kotsay was a motorcycle policeman in Los Angeles.)
"Absolutely, 100 percent. To this day, I still feel that it's in my blood to follow in the lines of my father and maybe even further it by going into the U.S. Marshals Service. I often kid my wife that when my baseball career is over, I'm going to go through the police academy just so I can get the badge," Kotsay said. (Patty Rasmussen-Chop Talk-June, 2008)
Kotsay was regarded as a consummate professional and a gamer by Red Sox officials and players alike.
Mark has owned a home near San Diego since 2003. He and his family live north of downtown in Rancho Santa Fe in a home they purchased in 2007.
Kotsay is a leader. He is not openly vocal, but he offers advice to teammates, especially younger ones.
"Watching him ... he's doing what I heard he can do," Padres manager Bud Black said in 2012. "He's a great personality and he knows the game. He talks the game. Guys do gravitate to him because of the personality. And what he says has substance to it. What he says ... the players get."
March 8, 2013 article by Tracy Ringolsby: Mark Kotsay is a baseball lifer. And the game is better for it. He has become the sage in the Padres' clubhouse. Whenever a position player has a question, Kotsay has a life experience he can relate.
"The game has been good to me," Kotsay said. "I respect it. I respect the people involved. My career has given me a chance to experience different situations. I have experienced the highs and lows. I have been injured. If I can help a teammate, it's the least I can do. I usually let them approach me, unless it's an in-game situation."
Kotsay isn't close to being done yet. He wants to play as long as he can, and once retirement beckons, he will have plenty of opportunities to extend his career.
"I might take maybe a summer off," Kotsay said. "I haven't had a summer to myself since I was a freshman in high school, so that would be interesting. After that … the game has blessed me with an incredible life."
Kotsay enjoys the game, so much.
"I love what I do," he said of his continuing pursuit of a big league job. "I know the competitive aspect of life drives me. The game fulfills that. It's better than a round of golf. Outside of a locker room, you'll never find the camaraderie of a group of men trying to accomplish one goal over the course of seven months."
Kotsay has not had a chance to play in a World Series, and he admits, "I'm not playing at this stage for any accomplishment other than winning a World Series. That drives every player."
Kotsay has been close. He was a part of the 1997 World Series champion Marlins, called up to play in 14 July games just a year after being drafted. But Kotsay was sent back out in August and wasn't added to the postseason roster. Each of the three postseason teams he's played on advanced to their League Championship Series, including the 2008 Red Sox, who lost a seven-game ALCS to Tampa Bay.
- Kotsay, his wife and three children live in the San Diego area.
"That's something that doesn't always happen in this game. In 2012, I found out what it is like," he said. "I can actually be involved in my children's school, sports and church. When we are home, I can take them to school and drop them off."
Then, Kotsay can head to the ballpark and get back into that comfort zone.
Playing in front of his home fans for the final time in his 17-year Major League career, Padres veteran Mark Kotsay was honored with a special ceremony prior to the club's 2013 Petco Park finale against the D-backs, September 26, 2013. Joined at home plate by his wife and three children, Kotsay received a standing ovation from the crowd. And three former teammates—Trevor Hoffman, Mark Loretta and Phil Nevin—presented him with a custom surfboard celebrating his career spanning three decades.
"The pregame was amazing, over the top and not expected, but it was very appreciated," Kotsay said. "It gave me and my family a lot of closure. As memorable as it could ever get."
Moments later, as the Padres were set to take the field for the top of the first inning, Kotsay jogged out to his position in left field by himself as both dugouts stood and applauded. The 37-year-old then took off his cap and waved all around the stadium before his teammates joined him for the start of the game. Throughout the ceremony, Kotsay appeared to be holding back tears.
"It's a moment I'll never forget," Kotsay said. "It was embarrassing and I felt naked. It's a team sport, we do things together and they left me alone. We'll have a talk about that on the bus ride to the airport."
A'S NEW MANAGER
Mark first came across the A’s radar in the buildup to the 1996 MLB draft. A standout outfielder fresh off winning the Golden Spikes Award and leading Cal State-Fullerton to a College World Series title, he topped Oakland’s Draft board that summer.
It was love at first sight for A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane. The club’s general manager at the time, Beane was enamored with Kotsay’s skill set. Frustration came when Kotsay ended up going ninth overall to the Marlins—just one selection ahead of Oakland. But 25 years later, Beane finally got his man, as Kotsay was officially hired as the next manager of the A's. His contract is for three years with a club option for the 2025 season.
“Funny the way things work out,” Beane said. “We thought we were gonna get a chance to draft Mark in 1996. Ultimately, that obsession with Mark as a player continued. We traded for Mark in 2003, and he had an outstanding playing career here with the A’s and went on beyond that.
“Even as a player, he’d always expressed this was something that he wanted to do. He immediately took a coaching job as soon as he stopped playing, which shows the passion that Mark has had to do what he’s getting ready to embark on.”
Mark said, “I feel blessed to sit here and be chosen to lead this organization going forward into our new era. I’m very humbled to have had the opportunity to work on our staff with Bob Melvin. The respect and admiration I have for Bob, I feel confident that any time I need to reach out and seek advice, I have that friendship there.”
Once Melvin, the winningest manager in Oakland history, departed the A’s in November to fill the Padres’ managerial vacancy, Kotsay was viewed as an ideal successor. In a way, he's been groomed for this moment. The process began in 2016, when he joined Melvin’s staff as bench coach and continued as he gained experience in roles as the A’s quality control coach from 2018-2020 and third-base coach last season.
"I think Kots is a great hire," Melvin told MLB.com. "I'm really happy for him. He knows the players, has their respect and he'll be an easy transition for the front office."
Kotsay’s overall coaching experience goes back to 2015, when he served as hitting coach of the Padres after working as a special assistant to San Diego’s front office the previous year. Not far removed from a 17-year playing career, which included four seasons with Oakland, Kotsay enters his managerial debut having built-in relationships with both A’s players and front-office members.
Describing his managing style, Kotsay said, “I really see myself as someone that comes across as transparent. I want the players to know that I care about them. I think that comes across with the relationships I’ve developed inside this organization. The care factor is at the top of my list. I’m an open book. I may have some emotion that comes across at times, but I think the players understand that I’m there for them.”
Transparency was a standout quality of Melvin that players often brought up. Kotsay will look to carry over that trait, as well as other game-planning strategies and day-to-day methods he picked up from observing the former A’s skipper over the years.
“Bob laid the foundation of the culture here over the last 10-and-a-half years,” said Kotsay. “That culture is about winning. We’re gonna carry that forward. Bob had a level of expectation of how the game is played, and I will continue to have that level of expectation. I also think the relationships that Bob built and watching his relationship with the players and front office, I learned a great deal from that." At the same time, Kotsay has his own unique managerial style he aims to carve out. “I do have some differences from Melvin. And those differences will probably show themselves," Kotsay said. "But if I can have half the success Bob had here as an Oakland A’s manager, I’d be excited about that.”
More specifically, “I know I’m definitely a little more emotional than Bob,” Kotsay said. “Bob had an unbelievable ability to stay very calm. You never knew his highs and his lows. Not that he didn’t enjoy those wins. He definitely enjoyed those wins and wore the losses. I’m sure I’ll wear the losses, too.”
The A’s knew that Kotsay’s impending first managerial gig was an inevitability after he’d interviewed for five different openings over the past three years. Between his 17 years as a player and 7 years as a coach, Kotsay is seeking to cultivate his own legacy as the 31st manager of a storied A’s franchise.
“All the data comes from being in professional baseball for 25 years,” said Kotsay. “The responsibility of a manager, I’ve watched and learned. I’ve had some unbelievable mentors. Dave Roberts and Craig Counsell are personal friends. Jim Leyland, Bruce Bochy, Bud Black are all men I admire and played under or coached for. The knowledge they’ve passed on, I’m excited to take it and hit the ground running.” (M Gallegos - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2021)
June 1996: The Marlins drafted him in the first round, out of California State-Fullerton. Mark signed for $1.1 million with the Marlins a week after the Olympics.
Kotsay says he lost a large percentage of his signing bonus through alleged embezzlement. He had trusted his $1.1 million signing bonus to Pro Sports Management Investment Company. In response to a lawsuit filed in Municipal Court in August 1997, Gillette pleaded not guilty to taking money invested by clients, including NFL Pro Bowlers Junior Seau and Darren Woodson. Kotsay estimates he lost $350,000.
- March 2001: The Padres sent pitchers Matt Clement and Omar Ortiz and OF Eric Owens to the Marlins to acquire Mark and OF Cesar Crespo.
May 2001: The Padres signed him to a two-year, $7.5 million contract extension, through the 2003 season.
November 2003: The A's sent C Ramon Hernandez and OF Terrence Long to the Padres, acquiring Kotsay.
July 2005: Kotsay signed a two-year contract extension with the A's that is worth a reported $15 million for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
January 12, 2008: The Braves sent reliever Joey Devine and RHP Jamie Richmond to the A's, acquiring Kotsay and over $5 million of Mark's 2008 salary of $7 million.
August 27, 2008: The Red Sox sent OF Luis Sumoza to the Braves, acquiring Kotsay.
October 30, 2008: Kotsay filed for free agency.
January 9, 2009: Mark signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Red Sox, plus incentives.
July 23, 2009: The Red Sox put Kotsay on waivers—not because of performance, but to make room for Adam LaRoche, whom they'd acquired from the Pirates.
"I wasn’t brought in here to play first base every day or play the outfield every day,’’ said Kotsay. “I was brought in to be a utility player. I thought the fit was perfect for me . . . I can’t say there’s no emotion in leaving. I don’t think bitter and upset describes it—it’s more disappointed, sad. The relationships, that’s what will be missed the most.’’
July 28, 2009: The White Sox sent OF Brian Anderson to the Red Sox, acquiring Kotsay.
November 5, 2009: Mark signed a one-year contract with the White Sox for $1.5 million.
February 2, 2011: Kotsay signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Brewers. He can also earn up to $450,000 more in incentives.
November 15, 2011: Mark signed a one-year contract with his hometown Padres for $1.25 million.
August 12, 2012: The Padres signed Kotsay for 2013. The club found Mark to be a positive influence in the clubhouse and a mentor of sorts to several players on the roster who are low in service time. And he was impressive as a pinch-hitter.
September 16, 2013: Kotsay announced he was retiring at the close of the season.