This big leaguer moonlights as a farmer

March 21st, 2021

came to love the four-legged, mooing 5 a.m. wakeup calls.

“It started when I was little,” said Tapia, the Rockies left fielder and leadoff batter and the youngest of his family’s seven children. “My dad had a lot of cows. He didn't have a farm, so they were, you know, on the patio. But that's where my love came from.”

In 2016 and '17, as he was breaking into the Majors, Tapia purchased land for a farm for his father, Rafael. On this farm, the Tapias have cows, goats and pigs. Oh, and turkeys, other birds and a lake stocked with fish, and some of the blue crabs he remembers collecting for food as a youth.

Crabbing -- “There are all kinds of ways to do it; you can even put your hand in the [crab] hole or use a stick,” Tapia said -- was such a part of Tapia’s identity that he has an adhesive crab logo on the knob of his bat. He would even call the crouch he formerly used with two strikes “The Crab.” Tapia’s private Instagram account includes a photo from a 2019 feature on AT&T SportsNet, during which he, bullpen catcher Aaron Muñoz and reporter Taylor McGregor enjoyed crabmeat at a San Francisco restaurant.

But, as Tapia explained Saturday in Spanish (with Muñoz translating), his identity is broad -- beyond baseball, even beyond crabs.

“I want to show them, especially the kids in the Minor Leagues and growing up there, to show respect on and off the field, and that you’re able to have a life off the field,” said Tapia, given the day off from the lineup for Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Mesa, Ariz.

Tapia said he is not exactly sure of the size of the farm, except that “it’s pretty big.” But he and his father are clear on how they operate their farm. In fact, "wildlife preserve" may be a more accurate label for the land.

“When I bought the farm, it was mostly for my dad -- his love for the farm, mostly just to have animals in a general area,” Tapia said. “Otherwise, it would be dangerous, growing animals without a farm. He gets up in the morning, 5 a.m, and then runs the farm. Brothers help out as well. It’s definitely a family thing. He will sell animals if he needs them. He does it with a lot of love, and he doesn’t kill them.”

The love that runs in the family runs through Tapia. During last year’s shutdown, when he wasn’t quietly handing out needed food and supplies in his home area, he was doing his running and hitting among the cows, as he shared on Instagram.

“It's honestly like baseball for me -- I love animals to death,” Tapia said. “I hate killing animals. So I love raising them. And I love having them. The love of baseball and the love of farming go hand in hand.”