The days of nicknames in baseball seem to be in the decline. In year’s past, you’d have the Crime Dog, Babe Ruth, El Duque, Pudge, Godzilla and so on. Now there are still some good ones out there such as Kung Fu Panda for Pablo Sandoval and Big Puma for Lance Berkman, but one of my favorite nicknames just happens to belong to one of the newest Pirates. Travis “Lunchbox” Snider.
Now Snider makes it no secret that he loves food almost as he loves baseball. If you check him out on Twitter at @LunchBoxHero45, it won’t take long for you to see.
“I love food, especially red meat,” Snider said. “If you follow me on Twitter, I constantly tweet out pictures of food, give restaurant reviews or ask people in whatever city I’m in for a good place to eat. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a good way to interact with the fans.”
Fans in Toronto called Snider “Moonraker” as well because of the towering home runs he would hit. It’s the nickname Lunchbox that has the most significance to Snider though.
“When I was in high school, I used to hang out with the older kids. They saw me put on a few eating displays, a round table buffet and a few other spots during football season,” Snider explained. “There was a guy before me named the lunchbox who also played fullback, so they dubbed me the lunchbox too and ever since then, it kind of just stuck.”
Now Snider was admittedly a fan of the show Man Vs. Food where host Adam Richman went around the country to tackle the biggest eating competitions that restaurants would have to offer. Snider told me about one his fonder memories with an eating challenge.
“I had a couple of teammates in Toronto that took me out to dinner in spring training that wanted to see if I could eat a 26 ounce steak,” Snider said with a smile. “I ended up finishing 32 ounces so that was probably one of my more memorable feats.”
While the 32 ounces doesn’t come close to the 72 ounce steak a the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, it’s nothing to scoff at.
Snider’s love for food is so great, that while many players like to continue their career in baseball whether it be managing, coaching or as an analyst, the 24-year-old Snider said he has given some thought to opening his own restaurant when he decides to hang up his cleats.
“I have aspirations, whether or not I fulfill those will be something I address down the road,” Snider said. “I definitely enjoy cooking, I enjoy the food industry and I’m trying to educate myself as much as possible moving forward.”
No worries Pirates fans, Snider works even harder at baseball than he does at educating himself about baseball. Although it’s a small sample size, Snider has posted a .345/.378/.488 line with a home run, five RBI and three doubles in just 41 at bats with the Pirates. While some criticized management for getting a guy with “potential” in the long-term, Snider has done his best to contribute in the short-term as well to help his team win.
“For me, it’s more about winning ballgames and we’re trying to get back on the winning side of things you know,” Snider said. “That’s our focus right now and continuing one day at a time.”
Lately, Snider has been hampered by a hamstring that has delegated him to pinch-hitting in recent games. When asked, Snider told me it felt fine and he’s just being cautious with it so he can get back in the staring lineup.
“Ideally, you want to be out there in the first and play nine innings,” Snider said. “I’m trying to be smart and not push things too quickly and allow myself to recover so I can play out there everyday.”
“It’s part of the business. Everybody goes through aches and pains. You’ve got to play banged up sometimes. I’m trying to do whatever I can do so that I can play everyday no matter the capacity as a starter or off the bench.”
Throughout the struggles, Snider is remaining a optimistic guy who is ready for his next post-game meal. In a city with restaurants like the Georgetown Inn, the Melting Pot and Hyde Park, Snider has found a personal preference in his short time in Pittsburgh.
“It has to be the Capital Grille. I had to go there twice,” Snider said enthusiastically. “I had two very good meals and I enjoy going to the Capital Grille no matter where I go across the country.”
So next time you go out to eat at the Capital Grille, or just go on a picnic with your significant other, make sure you order something that Snider would approve of. And oh yeah, if you go on that picnic, don’t forget your lunchbox.