Diaz brothers follow own paths to majors

Jonny Diaz was all set to follow in the footsteps of his older brother.

That was until he was called to take another path.

Matt Diaz attended Florida State on a baseball scholarship. His journey took him through college, the minor leagues and now to the major leagues as a Braves outfielder. He made it.

Jonny Diaz attended FSU on a baseball scholarship. However after one season he gave it up to pursue a career in music. His journey took him from independent labels, to a recording contract and now to a hit song on the Christian music charts. He made it.

The brothers reached the height of their profession. It wasn’t an easy journey, but they leaned on each other along the way.

“We joked that we were both in the minor leagues,” Jonny said. “We wanted to get to the major leagues. Now look, he is in the majors, and I have a record that is doing well on the charts.”

Jonny went to Texas to record his first CD, which was released in 2003. This May, he released his fourth CD — and first as a signed artist with INO Records — “More Beautiful You.” The title single was No. 1 on Christian music charts for three weeks. It is currently No. 5 and has been on the charts for 14 weeks.

“During that [freshman] year, I really felt I was called into the music ministry by God,” said Jonny, who resisted at first. “Up until that point, it was just a hobby. ... God really just started opening doors and providing opportunities.”

Jonny targeted “More Beautiful You” to youth groups, specifically young girls concerned with the world’s idea of beauty.

“I wanted young girls to know that they are perfectly and wonderfully made,” Jonny said. “God had special plans for that song.”

Matt is the second of four brothers, five years older than the youngest, Jonny. They are close, thanks in part to a bunk-bed rotation growing up in Lakeland, Fla. Their parents’ home had two bedrooms and two bunk beds for the four boys. They went from top bunk, to bottom bunk, to top bunk in the next room, to bottom bunk, and back again every three months or so. It ensured the siblings were close. Their interest in sports helped as well. Matt says Jonny had, and probably still has, the best throwing arm of the four.

“It was a lot of fun growing up in that family because you had your three best friends with you all the time,” Matt said.

So it was not surprising to turn to a brother for advice and assurance.

“I made it to the big leagues before he signed a record deal,” Matt said. “Hopefully I was able to talk him through some of the things where if you feel you’re doing what you’re called to do, just keep doing it and the rest will work out. My trip to the big leagues was long, and his trip to a record deal was long. He’s an overnight success that’s been doing this since 2003.”

Matt helped financially, but mostly it was to purchase a “gizmo” or two needed to record a demo in the early years.

“He has helped me with my walk with God, and in turn I wanted him to be able to do what he does,” Matt said. “My wife and I helped him a little bit, but we really didn’t help him that much. ... Since he recorded his first independent release, he put all the profits from that first CD into his second one. All the profits from his second one he put in his third one. He’s really put all of his livelihood into it. I will always be there for him if he needed it, but it’s really nice to see him succeeding after putting all his own work into it.”

Jonny is tied to Atlanta — and not just because the third floor of Matt’s house is known as Uncle Jonny’s room. It was here that he heard the hit song on the radio for the first time.

“I was visiting Matt and doing a show,” Jonny said. “I was in the car driving and heard it. It took 30 seconds to realize it was my song.”

Matt had his own reaction to hearing his brother.

“I had a game-winning hit one night and I’m leaving the ball yard, and I turn on the radio and I hear his song,” Matt said. “I was a lot more proud of hearing his song on the radio.”

Don’t look for a Diaz brother duet however. Jonny, who will tour with the group Mercy Me in the fall, got most of the musical ability in the family.

“I’ve said this before,” Jonny said. “But when it comes to singing, Matt sure can hit.”

“He does have a point,” Matt said.