Barry attended the University of San Diego High School in San Diego, a Catholic school, where he began surfing. He attend both the University of California, Santa Barbara and, subsequently, the USC, where he was a member of the 1998 NCAA baseball championship team.
In 2002, Zito won the Cy Young Award for outstanding pitcher in the American League, narrowly defeating Pedro Martinez in the voting. He was named to the American League All-Star team in 2002 and 2003. He is a durable pitcher, starting 34 or more games in each of his five full major league seasons, leading the league in games started three times.
Most people believe that Barry Zito's best season was 2002, when he posted a 2.75 ERA, won 23 games and struck out 182 batters.
Zito is entering the last year of his contract in 2006 and is widely regarded as one of the more sought-after free agents in that class.
A left hander, Zito throws an 89-90 mph four-seam fastball, a changeup and an excellent curveball (whose nicknames include "Captain Hook", "Rip-Curl", and "Bert") that has drawn comparisons to those of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. In mid-2004, Zito started throwing a two-seam fastball, and in 2005, he added a strong slider, or "slurve," to his pitch arsenal.
Zito — whose hobbies include yoga, rock guitar and surfing. His personality has made him a media favorite. He once made it a practice to buy his own autographed baseball cards on eBay; when asked why he bought them at auction for high prices rather than acquiring unsigned cards and signing them himself, Zito replied, "Because they're authenticated." In addition, Zito carries satin pillows on the road, collects stuffed animals, and burns incense to relax. Many Oakland fans first became aware of Zito when, early in his career, he dyed his hair blue. He has since earned the nickname "Planet Zito."
In 2005, Zito had a streak of 14 consecutive starts and 20 out of 21 in which he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched.
Zito created the charity Strikeouts For Troops, to which he donates $100 for every strikeout he throws. The charity benefits hospitals for soldiers wounded in military operations.
Zito is the nephew of actor Patrick Duffy. In 2004, he dated actress Alyssa Milano.
- Selected by Seattle Mariners in the 59th round of the free-agent draft - did not sign (June 4, 1996).
- Selected by Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the free-agent draft - did not sign (June 2, 1998).
- Selected by Oakland Athletics in the 1st round (9th pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1999 - signed June 12, 1999).
- Granted free agency (November 1, 2006).
- Signed by San Francisco Giants (December 29, 2006).