USC Gamecocks Baseball

Could he start at catcher after singing the anthem? This Gamecock has the pipes for it

Luke Berryhill may become a country singer after baseball

Gamecocks Catcher Luke Berryhill taught himself how to play the guitar his freshman year at USC after an injury prevented him from playing baseball. Now he's considering music as a future career.
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Gamecocks Catcher Luke Berryhill taught himself how to play the guitar his freshman year at USC after an injury prevented him from playing baseball. Now he's considering music as a future career.

Before Luke Berryhill had taken an official at-bat or caught a pitch for South Carolina baseball, Gamecock fans got a glimpse of his talent — his singing talent.

At halftime of the men’s basketball game at Colonial Life Arena against Tennessee on Jan. 29, Berryhill and his baseball teammates were recognized on the court. Then Berryhill and outfielder Ian Jenkins were picked to perform karaoke after listening to a few words from a song. Jenkins got “Sweet Caroline” and didn’t exactly crush it — the song started at a point he was unfamiliar with and he stumbled over the words.

Berryhill got Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” and brought down the house with a pitch-perfect performance so good that when he was over, the sold-out crowd of 18,000 gave him a standing ovation.

(Director of Baseball Operations) “Tyson (Lusk) pretty much told me I needed to do it, and I was all for it,” Berryhill said of the performance. “He knew I’d be all for it. They told me a few days ahead of time to give me time to prepare, get my nerves right.”

Getting his nerves right wasn’t much of an issue — Berryhill’s been singing for several years now, and his father, Larry Berryhill, has been performing since the 1990s with bands. There’s even a YouTube video of Berryhill winning his high school talent show, having come directly from the baseball field and still in full uniform, crooning “You,” by Chris Young.

“Over the years, I’ve gotten used to playing in front of people,” Berryhill said.

Berryhill can also play guitar, a skill he learned from YouTube videos while injured as a freshman at Georgia Southern.

“Singing just came natural, did it in shower, driving to school, stuff like that. When I got hurt my freshman year, I had a lot of time to fill because I was out for the season, so I had to find something to take my mind off it, so I just started playing guitar,” Berryhill said.

Baseball remains Berryhill’s main focus — he said he’d rather be known as a ball player than a musician, and he hasn’t had much time to play since the season started — but the two passions sometimes collide, like in between innings when songs play at Founders Park and the catcher starts singing along.

“If the song between innings is pretty good, I keep it going. The umpire’s told me to stop a few times, it’s distracting. But he told me it was good nonetheless,” Berryhill said.

In the locker room, he’s been known to sing some as well, coach Mark Kingston said. That’s something he knew to expect when recruiting Berryhill out of the junior college ranks.

“When you recruit guys, you try to do as much homework as possible. It involves talking to coaches and counselors and scouts, and looking up their social media. So we happened to land on his singing on his social media, so we did know that was part of his package and we knew that he was a six-tool player because of that,” Kingston joked.

And if Berryhill gets his way, fans will hear his voice again sometime this season — he’s requested to sing the national anthem before a game.

“I wanted to do it before one of the Clemson games, just because that would have been awesome, but they said they’d let me know when they want me to do it,” Berryhill said.

In the meantime, Kingston is perfectly happy with all that Berryhill’s currently doing for the Gamecocks on the diamond — he’s hitting .273 with a .402 on-base percentage, six home runs and a team-high 27 RBIs, starting every game.

“He’s hitting cleanup, he’s been very productive for us offensively. He’s received very well, he’s blocked well, better as the season’s gone on. He’s doing a solid job controlling the running game. We just need him to continue what he’s doing,” Kingston said.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.