Legendary MLB player Barry Zito was revealed as the Rhino during ‘The Masked Singer’ semi-finals and spoke with HL EXCLUSIVELY about performing in that massive costume, welcoming a baby in the middle of the show, and more.
There’s no doubt that the Rhino was the most lovable contestant of The Masked Singer season 3. You just couldn’t help but swoon over his performances. The Rhino was unmasked in the semi-finals and revealed as former professional baseball player Barry Zito, who played 15 years for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. Even though baseball and The Masked Singer couldn’t be more different, Barry told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that baseball did prepare him in some way for the show.
“I would say probably not as much baseball training but just the hard lessons of performing and not doing well and how you deal with that psychologically,” Barry told HollywoodLife. “For me, that’s the biggest key to this whole thing with The Masked Singer. Because if I didn’t have the experience of failing on a big stage with the San Francisco Giants, specifically, and the lessons I learned of stop trying to impress everybody and win the game, do the things I can’t really control and try to do things I can control, like have a great time or just do my best. These things are kind of cliches, but these are things we teach our children. Those are the things that really changed my entire experience. Because at first, I felt myself going on The Masking Singer thinking I have to win and have to be perfect. Eventually, I was like just be honest, give your best, and see what happens.”
The Rhino mask was a huge piece of headgear that Barry had to wear throughout each performance. Even though Barry made it seem effortless, he could barely see out of the mask! “If you’re looking straight ahead with the Rhino mask, you basically see the ground at about a 45-degree angle,” Barry admitted. “You can see about 5 feet in front of you on the ground. The nostrils of the Rhino I could see through, but they were like quarter-sized. I basically could barely see anything forward. I could maybe look and just see like one little spot on a wall, you know, 30 feet away in the studio, but certainly not enough to navigate. I was basically just looking at the ground, navigating where I was looking at the ground on stage, but then singing as well.”
There was a moment when Barry nearly fell off stage because he was off his mark while rehearsing in his Rhino suit. “I actually almost stepped off the stage completely,” Barry said. “People were freaking out. They were like, ‘No, don’t!’ I was having to sing and do this dance move and there were these steps in front of me that I thought I was going, but I was like two feet to the left of the steps and I almost walked right off the stage. My wife is shocked I didn’t fall down more times.”
In the middle of filming, Barry’s wife, Amber, welcomed their third child. The timing of their baby’s arrival was unexpected and Barry had to perform just days after his son was born. “It was pretty crazy because our baby, his name is Rome, came five weeks early,” Barry said. “When I agreed to do the show, we knew that we’d be shooting in January and February. We were due late March, like almost in April, and so we thought it’d be fine. But then we got news a few weeks after I agreed to do the show that she was having complications and our baby was small. We were getting transferred to a specialist obstetrician, and so things kind of got a little turbulent. The whole time I was out there, she was kind of worried that she was going to go into labor. And then, we finally had the baby and he was healthy, thank God. I was pretty sleep deprived and missed a few rehearsals leading up to that final performance. But all things considered, I was happy. I felt like I did well. Of course, I was going up against these incredible other singers, so I was definitely not deflated when I lost. I was so grateful for it all.”
Barry retired from Major League Baseball in 2015 and is pursuing a music career. He recently released a cover of the Kenny Rogers song “The Greatest.” Barry revealed his plans for his music career going forward. “I was able to retire here in Nashville even though I was in California my whole life. For me, I came here and started writing songs and then released an EP of more acoustic, stripped-down, very song-driven music,” Barry said. “I didn’t want to hide behind the production. As a kind of a retired ballplayer, you can really pull something off easily if you have a bunch of music in front of your voice. I’ve always wanted to be a producer and a producer-writer, so I’m able to do that now. I’ll be coming out with some more music at the end of the year that’s a little different sound, probably more synthesizers and maybe a little darker. I’m a pretty introverted kind of introspective guy so maybe some more pop kind of instrumentation with just that songwriting heartbeat underneath.” The Masked Singer season 3 finale will air May 20 at 8 p.m. on FOX.