Springfield Cardinals relievers Deryk Hooker and Keith Butler love the game of baseball, but when the game is over they equally love the outdoors. The bullpen duo will often rise in the morning at 4:00 am to hit the woods and do some hunting and fishing.
"There's nothing more than challenging nature in its own environment," said Hooker, a San Diego native who picked up hunting just last year and now makes his offseason home in the Ozarks.
The grind of playing 140 games in five months often wears on professional baseball players. While most will spend their down time resting, this duo wants nothing more than to be out in nature's glory.
"Just trying to be in the moment more than anything, just being out here in the woods not thinking about the game basically," said Butler, a Kentucky native who has hunted and fished all his life.
"These are perfect little getaways to keep our mind of things, but when we leave it's time to get back to the field and get to work," said Hooker.
Hooker is 1-0 with a 3.45 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings this season at Springfield. Butler, a member of the St. Louis 40-man roster, has yet to allow a run in six innings in Springfield, while also spending some time at Triple-A Memphis.
The duo called turkey, shot clays and caught and released a ton of bass, but don't expect them to quit their day jobs anytime soon.
"I'm probably a better baseball player than I am a fisherman," said Hooker.
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