Bryce Miller: Catcher Kyle Higashioka brings guitar, experience to backup role with Padres

Bryce Miller, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Baseball

PEORIA, Ariz. — When Kyle Higashioka joined the Staten Island Yankees as a low-A player in the New York-Penn League, he bought a $50 acoustic guitar at a pawn shop.

Though his parents first gave him something to strum when he was 13, it gathered dust. Once he dove into minor league baseball, he decided to pick up an instrument as he filled free time by testing his fingers ... and the ears of teammates.

"The guys on the team wanted to kill me, because I was so bad," said Higashioka, the Padres' backup catcher. "I would play all the time, practicing. The guys got tired of it really fast."

Higashioka now shreds, as the rock-n-roll crowd says, playing solos like "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden and Metallica's "Fade to Black."

If it's too loud, you're too old — right?

"You can kind of see a pattern there," he said.


Higashioka charted a musical path while climbing the ranks with the Yankees, the organization with which he spent 16 seasons. Then they packaged him in a multi-player deal with the Padres for Juan Soto, shipping the Huntington Beach, Calif., native closer to his comfort zone.

Closer to the beach. Closer to his one-time routine.

"In the offseason, I would surf in the morning or afternoon, train mid-day and practice guitar at night," said Higashioka, 33, who played for the big Yankees in parts of seven seasons.

If it sounds like a bit of a California cliche, chasing waves by day and belting out tunes when the sunlight retreats, well, it's because it's plucked straight from the playbook.


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