What if baseball didn’t work out? These Pittsburgh Pirates talk about what might have been

Ever wonder what a professional athlete would be doing if they didn’t play a sport for a living?

In Bradenton for spring training, Pittsburgh Pirates players responded to that question with a variety of answers.

They each drew on personal experiences or a passion in a different field.

Right-handed pitcher Jameson Taillon, who received the nod to start Pittsburgh’s home opener on April 2, said he’d probably be doing something related to physical therapy.

Jameson Taillon
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon said he’d probably be doing something related to physical therapy if he wasn’t a big-league player. Tiffany Tompkins

“Just being able to help people get back to their peak playing performance level,” Taillon said. “It’s cool. You get to see people come back the day after surgery and then rehabbing back to the best version of themselves, so that always interested me.”

Taillon has dealt with several injuries in his career — a bout with testicular cancer that required surgery and additional surgeries for a hernia and an elbow injury.

Those injuries coupled with his passion and respect for other sports are also why Taillon would gravitate toward physical therapy.

“With a specialty in sports therapy would be something I’d be interested in,” Taillon said.

While in high school, Taillon said, he thought physical therapy within sports would be a good fit.

“So I thought something sport-related to where if I don’t get to play a sport the rest of my life, I get to be around sports,” Taillon said.

Joe Musgrove
Pirates right-hander Joe Musgrove, who won a World Series with the Houston Astros in 2017, said he planned to study criminal justice before pro baseball came calling. Chris O'Meara AP

Joe Musgrove, a pitcher who won the 2017 World Series with the Houston Astros before a January trade shipped him to Pittsburgh, said he planned to study criminal justice before pro baseball came calling.

Musgrove’s father, Mark, was a homicide cop for 20 years and is now a private investigator.

“Growing up having him be my hero knowing that he was going out and risking his life every day for people that he didn’t even know was really admirable for me,” Musgrove said.

Being heavily involved in sports while growing up in California, Musgrove said it would be hard to imagine not having baseball as a part of his life.

Though the mind games behind being a detective always fascinated Musgrove, he said.

“Looking deeper into the stories and going out, knocking on doors and asking questions,” Musgrove said. “And piecing the puzzle together.”

Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Max Moroff prepares to tag out the Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario at second base during Monday’s game at LECOM Park. Tiffany Tompkins

One particular case his father handled stood out to Musgrove on Monday before the Pirates played the Minnesota Twins at LECOM Park.

There were a bunch of criminals robbing grocery and liquor stores in the Logan Heights area of San Diego, Musgrove said.

Musgrove said there was a call about the latest robbery and all units were heading to the scene to try to follow a trail from there.

The Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli holds his hand up to the pitcher during Monday’s game against the Minnesota Twins at LECOM Park. Tiffany Tompkins

“My dad’s mind operated different,” Musgrove said. “He actually went up to a peak point in the city, got up high on a hill and just watched. Was drinking a cup of coffee and just kind of watching the city. And sure enough, within five, 10 minutes, he sees a car going down a back alley with no lights on.

“So he takes his car down there, pulls the guy over and ends up arresting the guys right there on the spot. ... It’s just the way his mind worked. He didn’t rush to the problem. He stood back and tried to evaluate.”

Right-handed pitcher Chad Kuhl studied history before switching to communications in college. Kuhl, who is three semesters shy of a communications degree, said he’d possibly be broadcasting or be a history teacher if he wasn’t a professional baseball player.

Chad Kuhl
Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl is a U.S. history buff. John Raoux AP

“I really enjoyed U.S. history, but I changed really because my second year we were getting into Ancient Mesopotamia,” Kuhl said. “Just stuff that was hard to follow along.”

Kuhl said he enjoys the World War II or any war-type history as well as presidential and conspiracy-type stuff.

“It was just a really cool time in history,” Kuhl said of World War II. “Obviously, World War I, the Great War, changed the way warfare was fought. But it’s really cool to see America’s dominance and we were kind of neutral until Pearl Harbor.

“And then we were like, ‘OK.’ And then our aid did a lot of good. Then fighting a war on two fronts, really special. Really cool.”