“It was surreal,” reflected Nick McMullen ’18. “Sometimes as a baseball player you just have days where the ball looks like a balloon.” The first-year first baseman struck out in his first two at bats of the season as a Scot but, four home runs later, his shaky start was a thing of the past. McMullen hit two home runs against both Concordia University and the University of Winnipeg to help the Scots launch what would become a six-game winning streak during their Arizona Spring Training.
In some ways, McMullen is a lot like the typical college baseball player: full of routines and superstitions. “Before every at-bat I’ll close my eyes and visualize the pitch coming in,” he said. “A lot of people will think that’s cheesy, but I think visualization is very powerful in baseball. You can just kinda narrow down your focus into that single moment.” McMullen took his superstitions to another level when he parted with his beloved his facial hair for the first time in two years. He has had a full beard ever since arriving at Macalester, but he decided that it needed to go when the team found itself on an extended losing streak. “When things aren’t going your way, you’ll change anything and everything to get your guys to start winning,” remarked McMullen, “I’d shave my head if it meant we win 30 games in a season.”
In other ways, McMullen is very unique. Instead of idolizing MLB celebrities, he looks up to a much more modest player, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. “He lets his performance speak for himself,” said McMullen. ”I just try to model myself after modesty,” he said. “I want to be humble all the time and I really want to appreciate what I have.”
According to his fellow freshman teammate, Phil Wettersten, McMullen does just that. “He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet,” Wettersten said.
Coming from a Payson, Arizona high school of just 500 students, Macalester’s relatively small student body was a perfect fit for McMullen. The transition to a bigger city wasn’t hard for him. “I was ready to go out into the world and ready to be in a bigger place,” he confessed. The coaching staff is definitely glad to have him.
“Nick is a tremendous athlete and a team first guy,” said Head Coach Matt Parrington. “He is very coachable and willing to do what it takes to improve.”
Coach Parrington knew exactly what Nick could bring to the team from the beginning. “From day one it was evident that Nick would be a high impact player for us. Long term, we see him helping us out on the mound, at first base, and corner outfield,” said Coach Parrington. McMullen’s future as a Scot is very bright.
McMullen is also setting himself apart from other players off of the field. Instead of playing baseball this summer like most of his teammates, McMullen will be dedicating himself to a different cause. He will be volunteering for an organization called Breakthrough Collaborative, which is devoted to creating opportunities for motivated, underprivileged students that will put them on a successful path to college. McMullen will be spending this summer in San Francisco, developing his own curriculum for teaching eight grade students mathematics. He hopes to coach basketball as well. “I just decided that I was interested in teaching, and I wanted to look into the teaching and coaching aspect of things,” said McMullen, who applied and was accepted into the teaching fellowship earlier this year. The commitment will consume the majority of McMullen’s summer, but will be an especially valuable experience for him. The students will be learning, and McMullen certainly will be learning too. “I’m anxious to see what teaching style will come out of me,” he admitted, “It’s going to be a discovery process for me as well.”
McMullen is extremely excited about the opportunity he has been given, but for now he’s focused on something else. Shortly after his memorable start to the baseball season, McMullen was injured running out a double. “I’m at the mercy of my hamstring right now,” said McMullen. He has been working with Matt Seamon and the rest of the training staff tirelessly to get healthy and get back on the field. “All the staff have been incredible,” McMullen said. He’s doing his very best to get out of the dugout as soon as possible, hoping to get pick up exactly where he left off.