You may know Jacob deGrom as the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year and Mets star pitcher. He loves being on the field—he’s 2–0 so far this season—but has another passion that you may not know about: being on the water. The Florida native been fishing since he was a little kid! Before the season began, I caught up with him about his love of fishing at the Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show.
SIK: Tell me about your first memory of being on a boat.
JD: My first memory of being on a boat is being with my dad; there’s a lake behind their house, and we used to go fishing out there. It's called Lake Dias. My dad and I used to go fishing quite a bit.
SIK: Did you use live bait as a kid? Did you think it was cool or gross?
JD: I mainly fished artificial bait. My dad liked to fish bass tournaments, and you were only allowed to use artificial, so that’s what I kind of grew up using. Now, if I do some saltwater fishing, I’ll use live bait, and I don’t really find it gross.
SIK: Tell me about how your love of being on the water has progressed.
JD: I’ve always enjoyed being outside, and fishing has been one of the things that I enjoy. In the offseason I try to do as much fishing as I can. Even during spring training.
SIK: Do you ever have trouble balancing workouts and training in the offseason?
JD: On the weekends I’m normally not doing too many workouts, so that’s when I’ll try to get out on the boat.
SIK: To what extent does boating in the offseason help prepare you for the season? Do you think it relaxes your mind?
JD: Yeah, I think mainly during spring training, it relaxes my mind. After you get done at the field, you’ve been there, trying to get your work done, and then you go have some fun. Try to go fishing or out on the boat, or you do whatever to try to get your mind off of baseball and do something that you really enjoy.
SIK: What are your plans to get your kids interested in boating and fishing? Are they already?
JD: My son, he’s not quite two, but he’s been out on the boat a few times with me. I’m trying to get him out there early and teach him what I know.
SIK: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
JD: I’m excited—the team we have and the guys that we’ve signed, and the guys that are coming back from injuries. I think we have a great team, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.
SIK: Do you think that you guys can really be contenders, or do you think that you guys may try to rebuild?
JD: I think we can be a contender. You look at the amount of injuries we had last year: We had Noah [Syndergaard] hurt, you had Steve [Matz] hurt, you had [Zach] Wheeler hurt, David Wright’s been hurt. We signed back Jay Bruce, so I think we’re going to be a good team. I don’t think we’re at all in the rebuilding process; I think we’re going to be a contender.
SIK: Do you have certain brands that you prefer? Are they here?
JD: My boat is actually a little bit older, it’s a 2001, but I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Mercury and I actually have a brand-new Mercury [engine] on it.
SIK: How often will you boat after you retire? Do you think you will ever pursue a career related to boating after you retire?
JD: I don’t know. I always say to my wife that after I retire, I’m going to fish tournaments around where I’m from, so we’ll see what happens.
SIK: Which player on the Mets (now or in the past) would you pick to go boating with?
JD: Steven Matz, that’s my fishing partner. We fish, probably four or five times a week during spring training.
SIK: Why did you decide to cut your hair?
JD: Uh, I’m not really sure. It was getting too long, and I had it a long time, so I just thought it was time to get rid of it.
SIK: What is your favorite place to go fishing and why?
JD: I enjoy being on the St. Johns River. That’s where I grew up fishing, around that area, so that’s probably my favorite place to go fishing. I was in a tournament when I was younger. I don’t know if I was old enough to drive; I was probably 14. I was fishing with a buddy, and I weighed in first. I almost [won], but a guy that I knew very well came in and his fish was a half pound bigger than mine.
SIK: How was your friendship after that?
JD: It was good; he was quite a bit older than me.
SIK: So he had a jump start on you.
JD: Yeah, he knew what he was doing, and they ended up beating me.
SIK: Final question, really important.
JD: Oh, ok.
SIK: What is your true love, boating or baseball?
JD: Baseball. That’s what I do, and I really enjoy playing baseball.
Photographs by (from top): Courtesy of Jacob deGrom; Henry Mode; Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos/Getty Images