Woodford County’s Clinton Hollon pitching his way past addiction
Hollon led the Yellow Jackets to a state title in 2012 and is now attempting a comeback in the Battle of the Bourbon Trail.
VERSAILLES, Ky. (WKYT) - In Woodford County, you can find the Field of Dreams, a fitting name for a place where a dream was born for Clinton Hollon.
“My freshman year, I hit 91," said Hollon. "That summer going in, I was ranked as the No. 3 player in the nation so I knew at that point that that was the road that I was going to take.”
With a mid-90′s fastball and a filthy slider, Clinton took Kentucky by storm, leading his Yellow Jackets to the state tournament in 2012.
In front of a packed Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Woodford’s flamethrower struck out 14 against Powell County and 11 more in a semifinal win over Bishop Brossart.
The very next day, his Jackets finished the job, winning their first state championship in school history.
“It was a crazy ride, but that’s what I am all about," added Hollon. "When the pressure is on, I like to show up.”
After missing out on state as a senior, Clinton turned his attention to professional baseball and was drafted in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“First year going out, I throw the first twelve innings of my career scoreless in rookie ball.”
That was 2013, and in 2014, he completed his first spring training, but it didn’t go as planned.
“By the end of it, end up having Tommy John surgery," said Hollon. "Go through my rehab, have a son, but in the midst of that, I ended up getting hooked on Percocet 30 pain medication. Got to doing an excessive amount to the point where I couldn’t stop.”
In 2015, Clinton pitched in Single-A, but he was suspended 50 games after a positive drug test and in 2016, he was suspended again for a second positive drug test.
“It was after my second failed drug test when they called me into the office with the Blue Jays. I had been using that morning. I told them hey I got a problem.”
Clinton spent time in treatments trying to get clean, but in January of 2017, after four years and just 18 games in the minor leagues, he was released by Toronto.
That’s when Clinton’s career and life hit rock bottom.
“Went to a treatment down in Florida and ended up becoming a heroin addict. Shot Heroin, meth and crack for about two years and overdosed about nine times."
Nine overdoses in two years, with scars serving as a daily reminder.
“I have a couple track marks," said Hollon. "2-3 over on this arm and 2-3 over here.”
At a time when baseball felt like a distant memory, his once overlooked role as a father pushed him through.
“Huge motivating factor," said Hollon. "Whenever I was at my worst, I wasn’t able to be the father I wanted to be or be there for him. It’s a huge motivator to make my son proud.”
At 25-years-old, with his son Carter as his inspiration, Clinton is making his comeback at a place where he won a state championship just eight years ago.
“That was the last time I really remember being me.”
At Whitaker Bank Ballpark in the Battle of the Bourbon Trail, Clinton made his first start against professionals in five years. With family in the stands, the kid from Versailles struck out eight batters over five innings.
Before that start, WKYT’s Alex Walker asked him if he wants to make a comeback and attempt a return to the minor leagues.
“That is 100% the goal," said Hollon. "It that’s not what God’s will is, it’s not what God’s will is. I am just enjoying every minute of it and I’m trying to be out here like a kid again.”
Clinton’s dream of returning to the minors is certainly a long shot, but there’s a glimmer of hope and after battling back from rock bottom, hope is just what he needs to make that dream come true.
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