Luke Berryhill has a goal in mind: make it to the big stage and entertain the masses. Whether that happens in Major League baseball or on the country music charts is yet to be seen.
Berryhill, 23, showed up at Astros minicamp in his cowboy boots, catcher’s gear and a few bats in tow, with a guitar (two, actually) strapped to his back. Last year in the minor leagues, he posted a .974 OPS with 15 homers and 54 RBIs. Then in the offseason, he gigged bars around town playing country songs — some covers and some originals. Either way, he says, he wants to sell out stadiums.
“One day, I hope to have my own shows, selling out stadiums or other venues,” Berryhill said.
Berryhill’s father, Larry, played the Southern circuit in the 1980s and 1990s as a bluegrass and country rocker. Luke would help roadie with other members of the different bands, and a passion was born.
“Almost every weekend I’d be going to his gigs, and I just fell in love with music doing that,” he said. “And then just throughout high school and stuff, I started exploring more singing opportunities and learn how to play guitar at the same time.”
How many baseball players can sing Cody Jinks and George strait songs?
Berryhill taught himself how to play guitar as a freshman at Georgia Southern. By the time he graduated college (from South Carolina as a transfer athlete), the baseball players could cover major country acts like Cody Jinks, Cody Johnson, and George Strait.
“Every offseason, I try to play as many gigs as I can,” he said. “It’s a good way to make some income in the offseason since we’re not getting paid. And it’s a good excuse to go out and be social and stuff. Say like, ‘I’m going out to a brewery tonight. … I’m going there to make some money.’ It’s a fun time.”
Berryhill has also performed the national anthem a few times during his Minor League career. Last year before a game in High-A Asheville, he was belting out the lyrics when something embarrassing, but funny, happened.
“I wasn’t playing [baseball] that day, so I had a big lunch,” he laughed. “Everything was going good. I got to ‘the rockets’ red glare’ and then I burped on the mic. And the whole crowd was laughing at me. That was a good time.”
He also said he’s talked to some music producers about professionally laying down some tracks — maybe a Cody Jinks cover — but stressed that he wants to focus on baseball as long as he can. Last year, he topped out at Double-A, but this year is a brand new opportunity.
“I was very, very happy last year,” he said. “I started off a little slow in Fayetteville. After the long COVID layoff, I was just trying to get back to normal and then something clicked and then it just took off from there. I did not expect to have a season that good, but I’m very happy I did.”