Mets outfielder still proudly drives his 2010 Altima
For every baseball superstar like Justin Verlander, whose sizeable car collection includes a Ford GT and a Ferrari California, there’s a Daniel Norris, the Chicago Cubs pitcher who spends as much time as possible surfing the California coast and living out of his 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia.
OK, that’s a bit of an overstatement. There are far more millionaire athletes who indulge themselves with high-end automobiles than those who do not. Which is why guys like Norris and New York Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo are so relatable.
Nimmo, who will earn $7 million this season, can afford to buy himself a sports car or luxury vehicle, but instead he chooses to drive a light gold 2010 Nissan Altima. Without power steering. Or Bluetooth. But, hey, it has a CD player. As Nimmo tells mlb.com, the car’s dashboard is cracked and there are 65,000 miles on the clock, “but it still does what I need it to do. When I throw luggage in the back, do I want to be doing that on a $100,000 Mercedes?”
Before we crown Nimmo the king of the simpletons, there’s a sentimental reason he drives the Altima. He’s the sole owner, and this is how it came to be his daily driver. When Nimmo received a baseball scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas, his parents told him that he could buy a reliable car with some of the money the family would have spent on his education. Nimmo’s father, Ron, found a Wyoming Nissan dealership looking to rid itself of a few new 2010 Altimas, and Brandon was offered a bargain price. Done deal.
Now, 12 years and hundreds of amateur and professional baseball games later, Nimmo says the car is “almost like a part of me. It’s almost nostalgic to me.”
A tip of the cap to the Altima’s faithful owner: Nimmo tells mlb.com that he changes the oil every 5000 miles. Other than regular maintenance, the car hasn’t required much else.
Nimmo says that any thought of buying a new car immediately left when he reached the major leagues and quickly discovered that the Big Apple is no place for an expensive ride.
“When I got to New York City, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to be a defensive driver all the time,’” Nimmo says. “People are always trying to cut in front of you. I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t need a nice car because you’ve got to play chicken with these people anyway. If the Altima gets a little beat up, I don’t care. It gets me from Point A to Point B.”
While Nimmo is regularly razzed by his teammates and sometimes receives a negative comment about the Altima from his fellow New Yorkers, there are others who approve of his vehicle choice, especially those who recognize him and know he could be driving just about anything else. “Some of them will be like, ‘I love that you still have this thing,’” he says.
Nimmo admits that he has contemplated buying a new car, but the Altima remains the only vehicle he has ever purchased new. “It keeps me humble. It kind of reminds me of where I came from. When I have a bad game, I can hop in and be like, ‘I’m glad I didn’t buy that $100,000 Mercedes.’ … I’ll probably run her ’til she’s ragged, and then we’ll see what happens.”
Nimmo’s story just has to be too good to be true, right? Surely the Altima can’t be the only automobile the millionaire ballplayer owns … There has to be something he isn’t telling us, right? Right. And Nimmo admits as much. After signing his first pro contract, he splurged … and bought a used 2011 GMC Sierra. According to his Instagram account, he didn’t do it to “get all fancy … I just couldn’t take the Altima hunting.”
And yes, he still drives the GMC, but it remains back home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. New York City traffic is tough enough without having to manuever a full-size truck. That’s a job for the Altima.