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Hobbies offer players taste of another life

From jam sessions to the great outdoors, big leaguers often pursue off-field interests

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PHOENIX -- Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Mark Trumbo loves music. He listens to a variety of bands and plays several instruments, though he wishes he had more time to practice.

"I play drums from time to time," Trumbo said. "I've played live a couple times, but I mostly do it for fun."

And with teammate Bronson Arroyo's notoriety as a guitarist and vocalist, Trumbo said he would not mind playing music for a career after baseball.

"A post-playing career might be fun," Trumbo said. "Bronson and I might jam a little this year. You never know."

Professional baseball players are often consumed by the sport -- and who would say otherwise? Living, breathing, eating and sleeping baseball as a job does not leave much room for anything else. Off-field interests and hobbies sometimes define their personalities and appeal to some as possible careers in another life.

Oakland Athletics catcher John Jaso likes to camp, hike or backpack whenever he can. Outdoor and woodland activities were a staple of his childhood, and he continues to do it whenever he can.

"My dad was always taking the kids on backpack trips, camping trips, and that's something that was always there in my childhood," Jaso said. "Whenever I get the chance, usually when the season ends, I'll make a quick trip up the Sierra Nevadas in Northern California."

Even if he had the opportunity to be a professional outdoorsman, Jaso said he has a hard time picturing having a job that is not baseball related.

"I think, outside of baseball, there's some stuff I could do for a living. Baseball is a big part of my life and it's something I feel like I know pretty well, so getting into coaching would be a pretty easy transition for me," Jaso said. "I can see myself teaching, too."

But after reflecting for a minute, Jaso said he knows a life in baseball cannot last forever.

"I would like to work outside somehow," he said. "I know when baseball ends, it's not the end of the world and there's a lot more out there the world has to offer. Whenever that day comes, hopefully further down the road, I'll look forward to it."

When A's pitcher Sean Doolittle was a child, he played sports on a seasonal, non-stop basis -- soccer and football in the fall; basketball in the winter; baseball in the spring. But professionally, Doolittle said there is no chance he would survive in any sport other than baseball.

"Absolutely not. No way," Doolittle said. "In football, there must be 50 times a game where some guy takes a hit, and I know that would put me on the physically-unable-to-perform list real quick. In basketball, I'm just not that fast. I can't jump.

"I have great vision and I have handles, but I'm just too slow."

So when it comes to playing sports for a living, Doolittle said he feels fortunate to have found his calling.

"I literally found the one sports thing, the one athletic thing that I could do and get paid for," Doolittle said. "I really lucked out because I have such a specific skill set. I'm just really lucky that I'm able to get paid for it."

But for other players, like D-backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, when baseball became his profession, he said his window for hobbies and other possible careers became unrealistic.

"Since pro ball, probably half of my offseasons I've still played -- winter ball, Arizona Fall League, Team USA one year. So baseball has pretty much consumed my life since I started playing professionally," Gosewisch said.

"Once I'm done playing, I'll get to some other areas of interest."

Morgan Chan is a mass communications graduate student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Sean Doolittle, Tuffy Gosewisch, John Jaso, Mark Trumbo