CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi Hooks have entered the last week of their season.
Their catcher Luke Berryhill will no doubt be training to get better in the offseason, but he also has plans to continue down another career path.
Ever since he started playing ball, the goal for Berryhill has been making it to the big leagues. But he also has a dream of playing on a stage like the one at American Bank Center.
He has been playing baseball since he could walk.
“My first at-bat got a hit and ran to third base," Berryhill said laughing. "My parents never told me otherwise, they just thought I knew to go to first."
Things got much better for Berryhill.
He was voted minor league player of the year in the Houston organization in 2021. That comes after he was promoted two levels within the minor league system from Single-A in Fayetteville, NC to High-A in Asheville, NC to Double-A in Corpus Christi. T
hat year he batted a .295 average with 54 runs batted in and 15 home runs.
“I kind of exceeded my own expectations honestly," he said. "I just got in a rhythm halfway through the year and it just never stopped.”
This year, Berryhill claims he never found his grove, but at one point had a 50 game streak of getting on base. Entering the final series for the year he's hitting .259 batting average, 56 runs batted in and 11 home runs. Not to mention, he missed a chunk of summer with a hand injury.
Berryhill was drafted in the 13th round in 2019 by the Cincinnati Reds. It actually came as a surprise.
"I didn't even know, honestly," Berryhill started to say. "I sleep with my phone on "Do Not Disturb" and I forgot to take it off that day. So, I was at lunch with one of my buddies and after an hour I finally looked down I had like 30 missed calls, like 100 texts. I was like who died!? What did I miss?"
He started college at Georgia Southern University for a year. After an injury, he transferred to Walter State Community College for another year before landing at the University of South Carolina.
It was after the injury in his freshman years that things changed for him.
Berryhill started singing in high school, but it was after freshman year he taught himself to play the guitar. Using YouTube videos and a few pointers from family friends, he started his musical career. He began playing his favorite country music at gigs in bars and restaurants.
He writes original music, with inspiration coming from just about anything. His biggest inspiration, though, is his father.
“Throughout my whole childhood he had bands," Berryhill said. "And so, almost every weekend I'd go to one of his shows. So, I just grew up with a love of music. And he’s always been there to help try and teach me stuff, especially when it comes to singing. It's good to have a mentor there and someone I can bounce musical ideas off of and learn stuff to get better."
Larry Berryhill was a professional country singer who performed in Nashville and northern Georgia through the 80s and 90s.
When Luke began singing he said he started to take the stage with his dad and his band a few times a year.
"He was pretty much the guy that got me into it," Luke said. "Grew up listening to a bunch of countries, a bunch of southern rock and stuff like that. And, I've just had music in my blood ever since I could remember."
He wants to take those talents to be a country music star.
Luke has been known to have his guitar with him everywhere— In the clubhouse, on road trips.
“A lot of the guys ask me to play on the long bus trips," said Luke. "Sometimes to sing them to sleep or something if it’s late at night or entertains them a little bit."
Now his baseball life and music life have integrated.
He wrote a song last year about the grind of minor league baseball. Sometimes playing music is a kind of therapy when he struggles at the plate.
Although Luke primarily performs in the offseason, he’s been known to sing the national anthem for his teams. He's said that is one of the more difficult things he does.
"It's one of those where everyone in the whole stadium if you mess up one little note, everyone will hear it," he said. "So, you got to be on your toes."
What’s more, nerve-wracking: bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded, stepping to the plate? Or performing in front of 10,000 people?
Luke let out a deep sigh before he answered.
”I don’t know it depends on how big the game is honestly,” he laughed. "If it's a regular season game, I'd probably pick the stage, that's a little more nerve-wracking. But if it's a playoff game and the season's on the line, I'd take being in the box."
There's no real-time for Luke to perform anywhere during baseball season. He will play more when he heads home in the off-season.
He's never played in Corpus Christi but would love to get on stage at Brewster Street Icehouse.
He has made connections with some producers through performing. He won't rule out possibly making a single or two during some off-seasons.
Luke said music is a full-time job, something he can’t commit to while he’s playing baseball. Time will tell which path he takes, but no one is telling him it can’t be both.