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The Game of Life

World Series Champion Todd Stottlemyre Talks Entrepreneurship and Why His Father Was the ‘Greatest Warrior’

Just like his legendary father and brother, Todd Stottlemyre had a successful career as a Major League Baseball pitcher.

The two-time World Series champion hails from American baseball royalty. But while Stottlemyre talks about his son TJ following that pedigree, it doesn’t involve following in those exact footsteps as a third-generation ballplayer who colleges hotly recruited. 

“He broke the chain of being a pitcher,” Stottlemyre says with a chuckle of TJ, a shortstop and senior at Notre Dame Prep who has committed to play ball for California State University, Fullerton, next year. “He’s become his own player, worked really hard, and paved his own way. I’m so proud of him.” 

Stottlemyre spent his 15-season professional baseball career with five teams, retiring as an Arizona Diamondback in 2002. He went on to experience success in finance and working for Wall Street firms before realizing that wasn’t really his jam. 

What was, however, was health and wellness—especially the good food that helped him maintain his performance as an athlete. This led to Stottlemyre’s entrepreneurial career with Koibito Poke, the healthy, fast-casual Hawaiian poke bowl franchise he co-founded in 2018.

The business model, which is centered around natural ingredients with no preservatives that are not ultra-processed, is highly personal. Several members of his family, including his father Mel, battled or succumbed to cancer.  

“I started thinking about my wife and kids. I want to be around longer, and I need to take better care of myself. That starts with what I am eating,” says Stottlemyre of his wife Erica and five children, the oldest of whom is in medical school and the youngest is 9. Erica assists with Koibito Poke’s internal operations and marketing, and their daughter, Maddy, is the company’s chief operating officer. 

Stottlemyre recalls being a kid running the grounds of Yankee Stadium, where his father spent his entire 11-year career donning the pinstripes for the Bronx Bombers. Here is where his baseball journey began, as he dreamed about following in his father’s footsteps. 

After that, every Little League, high school, and college game, plus the physical and mental work needed to find an edge, consumed him before he took an MLB mound. 

“I lived and dreamt the sport long before I could play it at that level. I wanted to do what my dad does. Working toward the dream was longer than actually living it,” Stottlemyre says. As for playing? “I miss it. I’ll always be grateful for it.” 

Stottlemyre’s father battled multiple myeloma, a plasma cancer, for 20 years before passing away in 2019. During his father's last months, Stottlemyre worked on the poke bowl concept. It cemented his belief that healthier eating would make a difference in preventing invasive cancers.  

Once, while his father was alive, Stottlemyre walked into his parents’ home and saw his dad on the phone. He asked his mother who he was talking to. She said every day, he calls people who have been diagnosed with the same disease, using his precious energy to offer others support and comfort. 

“It was crazy. It was awesome. Watching my father go through the fight of his life while encouraging others to continue to fight was like watching the greatest warrior in life,” Stottlemyre says. 

When the topic of Father’s Day comes up, Stottlemyre gets emotional and tears up as he talks about his dad. 

“He was our hero, our role model, our mentor, our coach. And he was dad when he needed to be dad. But most importantly, he was our best friend,” he says. “I miss him every day. But I’m not sad. I have five amazing children and want to be there for them, and that’s the lesson I got from my father. His love for his sons was the most amazing thing in the world, and now it’s my turn to do those things for my kids.”

"I have five amazing children and want to be there for them, and that’s the lesson I got from my father."