Former Harris County athlete Chris Bullard gave up a shot at playing professional baseball once before, but the second chance was too much to turn down.
The 2007 Harris County graduate and former multi-sport Western Kentucky athlete signed Thursday with the Atlanta Braves a day after the team drafted him in the 34th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
In 2007, the Los Angeles Angels drafted Bullard in the 45th round, but he chose to go to Western Kentucky to play football.
“When I was drafted out of high school by the Angels, I turned it down to play football,” Bullard said. “But I always had it in my mind that I could do it again if I wanted to.”
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Bullard played only football as a freshman and sophomore at Western Kentucky, but after two years of sitting in the stands in the spring, he gave baseball another chance.
“I just kind of missed baseball,” Bullard said. “I love football. Football has always been my love. But I’d always go to the baseball games, sit in the stands and say I could do that and that I’d like to do that. When you’re in college, you’re free to do whatever you want, and I didn’t want to look back on that and say I wished I would have tried to play baseball.”
Bullard joined the baseball team as a junior and said his coaches and teammates helped him make up ground by spending extra time throwing to him in the batting cages. He went on to play 47 games for Western Kentucky and in 2011 made 20 starts as a designated hitter and finished batting .229 with 16 hits, 18 RBIs and nine runs in 28 games.
“It was tough coming back because I couldn’t play in the fall with the rest of the (baseball) team because I was playing football,” Bullard said. “But once I was able to get adjusted again, I felt like I was back into it.”
Bullard said he will leave today to report to the Braves’ training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where he will be given his assignment.
“I’ve got no idea where I’ll be going yet,” Bullard said. “I’m just excited about reporting, and I’m looking at it like it’s my first mission.”