by Annaliese Leon
PHOENIX- From a young age, Forrest Snow mastered two things with his hands: gripping the laces of a baseball and playing the keys of a piano.
When the pitcher wasn’t balancing academics and athletics, he was learning the art of playing the piano.
What inspired him to learn at such a young age?
“Well, it was my mom who got me into the first lesson,” said the Milwaukee Brewers right-hander, who was reassigned to minor-league camp Friday. “She figured that I should be instrumental, I don’t know, on a different level. She wanted me to be a little bit more cultural and well-rounded, that’s what her reasoning was behind it, so when I was about 6 or 7, I started (taking) piano lessons.”
After mastering classical music for seven years, Snow admired its beauty but wanted a change of genre. This prompted him to switch instructors and begin taking blues and jazz-oriented classes. It was then that he fell in love.
“Some of my favorite pianists are jazz,” Snow, 26, said.
He would have an hour-and-a-half lesson once a week and practice for an hour or so every other day.
However, as he approached his days at Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington, Snow made something else his priority: baseball.
“By high school, I mean I kind of put piano on the back burner,” Snow said. “I would still sit down and play every once in awhile but I kind of used it as my release, my sit down and relax and forget all about, you know, all the homework I had or how many home runs I’d just given up.”
With his time on the piano already limited, it diminished further when Snow began playing college baseball at Washington.
(Video by Sydney Cariel/Cronkite News)
During his time with the Huskies in 2008 and 2009, he posted a 5.29 ERA through 19 appearances and 34 innings pitched.
“But you know, by college I wasn’t really playing at all and then mom and dad got me for my birthday a nice Korg 88-key (keyboard), a beautiful, beautiful piece of equipment and so I kind of picked it back up,” Snow said.
As a ballplayer always on the road, the gift was far too big for travel. That didn’t keep Snow from his hobby.
“I came across an article on ‘La La Land’ before I saw it, that the Roli Seaboard Grand was featured and Ryan Gosling is a jazz pianist in the movie,” Snow said.
Reading the article gave Snow another motive to see the movie, which originally was because Emma Stone was in it. Snow purchased the Roli Seaboard Grand — a piano-like instrument with a soft, wavy playing surface — which he now uses as a portable option while traveling, especially during spring training.
This was his first spring training with the Brewers, who signed him to a minor-league deal on Dec. 16. He was reassigned to the minors Friday after 3⅓ innings in spring training, where he posted four strikeouts and one walk, allowing four hits and no runs.
“There’s a lot of pressure going on here especially for me: new organization, a lot of new people around, new coaches, just to try and turn their heads,” Snow said. “So I go back home at the end of the day – I kind of unwind – that’s one of the ways I do it.”
Though his mother is the one responsible for the inspiration of music that helps Snow escape, she didn’t have a similar path.
“She’s messed around on the keys a little but she never got lessons,” Snow said. “I gave her a coupon one birthday to teach her a song of her choice. She hasn’t cashed it in yet.”
Snow’s sister shares the dedication to music on another level: through vocals.
He described her voice as beautiful, which made for some fun mini-concerts in the Snow household during Christmas.
“My mom kept telling me, ‘You’re going to thank me one day,’ ” Snow said.
“I thank her every day.”