Baseball Player’s Home (on the) Run
Imagine waking up to a view of the ocean one morning, and a secluded forest the next. For one US Major League baseball player this dream is a reality – and he hardly paid a cent for it.
They say location is everything in the property world, but Blue Jays pitching prospect Daniel Norris is in a career where moving is just as important. With team training, long off seasons and games all over the place, travel definitely comes with being a baseball player.
For Norris, 2014 was a year involving travel to play in Class A, Double-A and Triple-A Minor League games before he secured his spot with the Toronto Blue Jays. So instead of using his US$2 million (AUD$2.56 million) signing bonus to buy a nice house or apartment, Norris spent considerably less investing in a van.
Specifically, a mustard-yellow 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia microbus, fitted out with solar panels and a bed for his travels.
After growing up simply, he says the lifestyle afforded by the van (nicknamed Shaggy after the character in Scooby Doo) is a way to get back to his roots during downtime. “I grew up with a simple lifestyle, and I knew going into professional baseball that would be tested. In my mind there’s no need for luxury, or at least society’s sense of the word,” he says in an interview with GrindTV.
“I consider my life luxurious—I live on a beach with an ocean-front view, hearty meals and hot French-pressed coffee at my disposal. That’s fancy, right?”
Although it is an unconventional route for an up-and-coming baseball player to take, this #vanlife actually supports some of his other ventures. Specifically, a modelling gig with a hipster men’s craft store in his hometown (The Fouled Anchor) and a brand ambassador deal with clothing line Just Keep Livin (JKL).
While these deals are helping set Norris up for a more sustainable career, he says baseball is his number one priority. He also believes his lifestyle is teaching him more about his role in the game.
“As a pitcher, you’re the guy making the pitches. You’re the one the whole team’s depending on,” he tells MiLB.com.
“Living by yourself in a van, you’ve got to tend to yourself, cook for yourself, and if anything goes wrong, just deal with it. It teaches me a lot about adversity.”
Norris made his Major League debut in September 2014, and had five appearances during the season. The thoughtful, introspective Norris had five appearances last season, pitching 6 2/3 innings of four-run ball. It’s a good bit of serendipity that the sport most travel-weary gets a man so adventurous.