MESA, Ariz. – Seth Brown has been hunting and fishing for as long as he can remember, first starting out in Oregon with his older brothers and father.
The serenity of the quiet woods, lakes and streams helps Brown find a sense of calmness with a busy baseball schedule. In the outdoors, he feels primal, as though he can get back to human basics.
“When you get out a few miles away from any road or trail, it’s just human nature,” Brown said this week from the A’s desert spring training facility.
Brown led the A’s with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs last season, splitting time almost evenly between first base and the outfield. This season will feature a bit more solitude for him in right field after the A’s signed veteran first baseman Jesús Aguilar over the winter.
Brown’s interest in the outdoors led him during his time at Lewis-Clark State College (Lewiston, Idaho) to work his senior year for the state’s fish and game department as part of a class project focused on salmon migration. His job for roughly a year included inventorying fish, marking them as male or female and counting daily catches.
“It was awesome,” Brown said about the work. “They do a really good up there and it worked out perfect.”
When the A’s selected Brown in the 19th round of the 2015 draft, it was time for him to focus fully on baseball and leave hunting as a hobby. He said he spends much of his time in the offseason in Idaho, where he can hunt and fish in the winter months.
Outdoor sports are a common offseason pastime for baseball players, and the A’s are no exception.
Nine-year veteran Jace Peterson, who signed with the A’s in December, and left-handed pitcher Kyle Muller, who was a part of the Sean Murphy trade, also have a passion for hunting and fishing, as evidenced by their Instagram posts.
They join a long list of major leaguers interested in outdoor sports. Brown, Muller and Peterson all said that hunting and fishing can help give them peace of mind — a “brain break”, as Brown put it — after the long, challenging baseball season.
“It’s a busy lifestyle,” Peterson said, acknowledging that it’s a privilege to play pro baseball. “Whenever you can slow it down, take a step back and go out in the woods and get away from all the electronic stuff, it’s definitely a release.”
A release that is much needed after 162 games, but Brown said there are still parts of hunting and fishing that remind him of baseball, mainly the competitive spirit involved.
He explained that in baseball, the competition is clear. Teams compete against one another, whereas hunting and fishing are solo activities that occasionally require competing with others in the area for the best spots.
Muller, who started hunting in his junior year of high school in the Dallas area, said that hunting has helped him as a baseball player to understand the value of preparation and how to handle pressure.
“Once you’re out there, your heart starts beating really fast, and learning how to control the adrenaline is another thing I think actually helps on the mound,” Muller said.
Patience is the biggest lesson Peterson, who has been hunting since he was 5 years old, has learned from his hobbies. Like Muller, he likes to hunt duck and deer, and believes it has helped him on the field — in his case during at-bats.
“Patience is a key to hunting and fishing and obviously baseball,” he said. “Sometimes you gotta grind it out and be patient and it’s the same thing with hunting. Sometimes you do all the work and you set it up and it just doesn’t work out.”
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