Torii Hunter swallows fire with the Notre Dame baseball team

 May 16, 2015

Twins right fielder Torii Hunter spent an interesting off day Monday while visiting his son at Notre Dame.

After Torii Jr. and the rest of his Fighting Irish baseball team finished practice in South Bend, Ind., the whole group — including Torii Sr. — headed to the locker room for a session with sports psychologist/motivational speaker Brian Cain.

The next thing Hunter knew, he was joining his son and the rest of the team in a pair of challenging activities: breaking boards with his forehead and swallowing fire.

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“I did all that with them,” Hunter said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Hunter said he had broken boards in the past with his forehead, which didn’t have a scratch on it Friday, but this was his first crack at swallowing fire.

“You have to suck the breath out of you,” Hunter said. “You take a deep breath and hold it and then put (the fire stick) in your mouth to smother the fire. It was a great method.”

Were there any repercussions?

“Nothing happened,” Hunter said. “No taste, no burn in your mouth or anything. You smother the fire. It goes in your mouth and you pull it out.”

Someone in the room captured the moment on a cell phone and sent the video to Hunter, who posted it on his Instagram account.

Hunter had never met Cain before but knew his mentor, Ken Ravizza, from his time with the Los Angeles Angels. Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki worked with Cain while starring at Cal State Fullerton more than a decade ago.

“Everybody had to do it to overcome their fear,” Hunter said of the fire-swallowing routine. “You had one guy who was putting (the fire) in his mouth and he said, ‘No, I can’t do it!’ And he was just burning his lip. He was an 18-year-old. He’s young. It was funny.”

The 24th-ranked Irish were coming off a three-game home sweep of North Carolina over the weekend. After the session with Cain, they took two of three at Boston College in preparation for next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Durham, N.C.

“I said some words of encouragement,” Hunter said, “to inspire them and push them along their way as they go to the tournament.”

At 35-19, it’s unclear how far the Irish will go in the postseason, but Hunter likes their chances after what he witnessed Monday.

“I thought it was cool,” he said. “They’re not afraid.”