Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche reflects on his friendship with country singers Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, as told to Louise K. Cornetta:
I met Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean when I was playing in Atlanta. I met Jason in 2005, when he sang the anthem. We exchanged numbers, started talking, did a little hunting together and became close.
That same year, Luke played a concert in Atlanta. Back in those days, he was just riding around in a minivan, pulling a trailer from club to club. A bunch of the guys from the team went to his concert at a bar called Wild Bill's, but we ended up getting there late and missing the entire thing. Just for us, Luke came back out on stage and played a private acoustic show for two hours.
Anyway, the three of us -- Jason, Luke and I -- started hanging out and doing a lot of hunting together, mostly white-tailed deer. We just bounce around to each other’s farms and ranches and do a lot of hunting. I would say I’m the best, of course, but I don’t think Luke and Jason would agree.
Then the three of us decided to start a business we’re calling Buck Commander. It’s the sister company of Duck Commander. I don’t expect everyone to know what that is, but it has been around for a very long time. Because of the success of Duck Commander, we decided to start a Buck Commander, make some DVDs, play around with it and see how it does.
A couple other ballplayers have gotten involved: Chipper Jones (he was one of the original owners), Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin. Then the Outdoor Channel came to us about doing a TV show, and now we’re on our third season of "Buck Commander." Long story, but that’s how all of us got tied together from baseball to country music to hunting to this business.
We spend a lot of the offseason together. Our families get together. I don’t sing, because it’s embarrassing, especially around Jason and Luke. But after a day of hunting, we’ll get a fire going and they’ll always bring their guitars and put on a show for us as everyone sits around the fire. It’s great. What’s funny is they don’t like playing their own songs that much, so we throw out requests. Luke could sing Madonna or Jason will sing Pearl Jam.
We also try to meet up during the summer as much as possible. Obviously, as a baseball player, I’m bouncing around from city to city, and with their tour schedules they’re all over. But usually we’ll cross paths two or three times a summer. Sometimes they’ll come out and take batting practice with us. It’s funny. They’ll try their skills in the cage and then come out on the field and take some swings. We get a good laugh. Jason isn’t bad. He played in high school, and while I wouldn’t say he has power, he can definitely throw line drives out there.
What’s cool now is that both Jason and Luke are touring together this summer, and they have a show in D.C. in early September while we’re in town, so I’m sure we’ll take the whole team out to their concert. They’ll get to take batting practice with us, and I’ll get to go backstage during their concerts.
You know, that doesn’t sound like a fair trade. I should get to come out and sing. ... But that would clear the place out in a hurry.