Nick Grady, 23 of Whitefield, is playing single A professional baseball with the Newburgh Newts in Newburgh, N.Y. He is pictured here hitting for the Univeristy of Southern Maine his senior year, when he hit .417.
Nick Grady, 23, of Whitefield, is living the dream. The University of Southern Maine graduate, who played on the 2012 baseball team that made it to the Division III World Series championship game, is playing professional ball in New York.
While a senior at USM, the Erskine Academy graduate led the nation with a .417 batting average. He was a First Team All American, a First Team All New England and First Team Little East Conference All-star. USM won the Little East championship, the New England Regional championship, and was national runner-up at the Division III World Series.
Twice this year, Grady has had the opportunity to play professional baseball yanked out from under him. He and USM teammate Tucker White made a team in Germany. “They decided at the last second they did not want U.S. players,” Grady said. He then tried out and made an East Coast Baseball League team, but the league folded before they played a single game.
“I was invited to spring training in Delaware and ended up making a team. The league folded before we started,” Grady said.
Watertown (N.Y.) Bucs owner Bruce Zicari,, whose family founded the Cheeburger Cheeburger restaurant chain, stepped forward and started the North Country Baseball League, a Single A independent professional baseball league. “The new owner put the league together in a few days,” Grady said.
Grady was thrilled, and started third base for the Newburg Newts in Newburg, N.Y. in their season opener on May 29. He also plays first base and outfield. The Newts play the Old Orchard Beach Surge in June.
Although the Newts are a professional team, they are not affiliated with any pro American or National League baseball team. “My dream job is to make it to the next level, and play Double A affiliated ball,” Grady said.
“It is not the greatest pay,” Grady said of his $500 a month salary with the Newburg Newts, but Grady is not complaining. The club pays for food, lodging, travel and uniforms.
“It is going to be tough,” Grady said of paying his student loans that are coming due.
“People have been supporting me, which is going to help a lot.” His aunt has even set up a GoFundMe page for him.
Grady said his job with the Newts is “pretty much full time.” They play three games a week and have to be on the field by 2 pm. Grady arrived at the Delano-Hitch Stadium, the Newts home field, on May 23. When the rest of the team arrived May 24, they found the field in need of repairs.
The players rebuilt the mound and home plate themselves. Grady estimates team members have been working six hours a day getting the field ready for their opener. “It is coming along,” he said.
“It is playable and will be a nice field by the end of the season. It is all coming together. It is all positive… We hope to put on a good show for the fans.”