Daniel Norris, a 21-year old Toronto Blue Jays pitching prospect, lives in his '78 VW Westfalia camper.
Many young athletes who receive a hefty bonus or contract might be tempted to run out and buy a flashy car, a big house, or a bunch of gadgets and toys, but not Daniel Norris, who spent part of his $2 million signing bonus from the Blue Jays on a decidedly different kind of dream home - one on four wheels.
Frequently asked, "what's your dream home?" - I've got my dream home. This van is a lot more than 4 wheels to me. Location tho? North shore— Daniel Norris (@DanielNorris18) February 9, 2015
For Norris, an avid outdoorsman who grew up camping, biking, and climbing, the choice to buy and live in a decades-old VW microbus is a natural one, which fits his desire for simplicity in a pro sports culture more known for its excess:
"I think the simplicity of it all was the most appealing. I grew up with a simple lifestyle, and I knew going into professional baseball that would be tested. In my mind there’s no need for luxury, or at least society’s sense of the word.” - Norris
According to GrindTV, the yellow '78 VW Westfalia camper (which he named Shaggy, after the Scooby-Doo character) wasn't even for purchase at the time Norris was looking for one, but thanks to his father, who "knew a guy who knew a guy," the bus ended up in Norris' hands, where it received some upgrades (a bed and solar panels) to meet his needs.
Norris told Baseball America that life in a van isn't so different as one might think:
"As a van-dweller, essentially it’s the same. I still cook my own meals, I have a kitchen—it’s a little fuel-powered stove and I’ve got a couple pots and pans—and it works pretty well. I enjoy it. The way I grew up, my dad owned a mountain bike shop and that’s really it, so we had to learn to take care of yourself and be sustainable with what you have." - Norris
Over on LifeEdited, David Friedlander muses that Norris' choices, which seem to point to the rise of what he calls "the minimalist celebrity," may be a sign of the times, mirroring the trend of Millennials to dismiss "traditional notions of success" in order to follow their own path:
" ... Norris might be the new, low-key celeb, someone who might have access to vast material resources, but feels compelled to not exploit them; someone for whom simplicity and moderation are ideals to strive for, not signs of failure."
Even if you're not a baseball fan, if you're curious about the #vanlife lifestyle, you can follow along with Norris via his Twitter account or Instagram profile. Who knows, you might decide to ditch the walls for a tiny mobile house, too.