Josh Jackson of MiLB.com has a great story about Blue Jays’ pitching prospect Daniel Norris. Norris spends his offseason living out of his van, wandering around the country hiking, camping, surfing and generally enjoying a solitary, nomadic existence in which he seeks to commune with nature and stay true to himself and the things he loves.
So, naturally, that makes him an oddball in baseball circles:
“[The Blue Jays] have expressed concern as far as living in the van. For them, it’s just, ‘Why?’ They’ve kind of said, ‘Well, we don’t think that’s a very good idea.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, I’ve been doing stuff like this my whole life,'” explained Norris, who, in addition to surfing and hiking, is an avid mountain biker and rock climber and also ranks as MLB.com’s No. 25 overall prospect.
“They’ve kind of said, ‘Well, OK, but we don’t get it,’ and I’m kind of like, ‘I don’t expect you to get it — that’s OK.'”
Square pegs don’t fit will in baseball’s round holes. Ask Jim Bouton or Bill Lee or Zack Greinke or any number of other players whose primary off-field interests aren’t hunting or fishing or fast cars or nightclubs. They don’t get why a 21-year-old guy like Norris may want to road trip his way through the offseason but don’t bat an eye when a single player in his 20s with no kids buys a 10,000 square foot house in a suburban golf community. Ask yourself: which of those behaviors are weirder for a guy in his 20s?
Of course, baseball does just fine with guys who go 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA and strike out 11.8 batters per nine innings across three minor league levels for which is they are very young. As long as Norris does stuff like that, I’m sure the Jays will not take much of an issue with him living in a VW van and wandering the Earth.
(Thanks to Moses for the heads up)