If you had millions in the bank and half the year off from work, how would you transform your life?
For Daniel Norris, the 24-year-old starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, off-season in Major League Baseball equals hitting the open road, finding some good surf, and drinking in the wonders of nature from the comforts of a $10,000 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia microbus.
"It really shows me that I can live a normal life without needing luxuries," Norris said of his van lifestyle in 2015. "I consider my life very luxurious, being able to live in that, travel around, sleep on the beach, and wake up to the waves. It really doesn't get much better than that."
In the years since we first profiled Norris, we're happy to report that this philosophy still defines his life away from baseball. Despite some ups and downs in his baseball career, as well as a brief scare with thyroid cancer, Norris is still drawn to the simple wonders of nature. But make no mistake, his love of the sport is still very much a part of his wanderings far from home.
"Even when I’m out on the road, I never miss a workout," he wrote in an article for The Player's Tribune. "I’m working out twice a day, every day, whether I’m back home in Tennessee, out on the Oregon coast (another one of my favorite spots) or down in Nicaragua waiting for the next good wave. A cart rack in a Walmart parking lot makes for a great pull-up bar. Manhole covers and a bar from a surf rack make for great curls. You get creative."
Besides adding to his impressive facial hair during the offseason, Norris says he's learned to live without many of the trappings of modern life. To that end, he still only draws $800 a month from his bank account to help pay for food, gas, and other bare essentials.
"When you live out of a van, you have to learn to live with very few possessions, so you have to appreciate what you have," he added. "The first off-season I spent in the van, I brought way too much stuff. It’s obviously a small space, and it was so cramped. Now I bring less and less every year to keep it as simple as possible. Living with less, even if it’s only for a few months on the road, helps me keep things in perspective."
During the 2015-2016 offseason, Norris took filmmaker Ben Moon on a road trip that was later chronicled in the short film "Offseason." It's a beautiful and intimate look inside the head and through the eyes of a millionaire major leaguer living the simple life.
You can check out the 8-minute short below.