It all hit Nick Martin one night late in the 2019 regular season at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.
He had just thrown out a runner from left field. The crowd roared.
Martin was living out a childhood dream.
“I just looked at the crowd and almost broke down,” he says. “It’s crazy to see all those people cheering for you.”
Playing at Hanover Insurance Park has been a dream for Martin for years. He’s been watching games at the HIP since the days of the Tornadoes.
More specifically, his dream was to play for the Bravehearts.
“From my first year in Legion ball, it’s something I’ve striven for,” Martin says. “It was definitely something I really, really, really wanted…”
Martin remembers one conversation he shared with then-Braveheart Josh Desai.
That year, Desai would guide Worcester to its first Futures Collegiate Baseball League championship, the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the championship series.
“He told me right there ‘you want to play here one day?’” Martin says. “I said ‘Definitely.’ He said to keep working and that I’d get there.”
Five years later, that’s where Martin was, helping to lead the way. He batted leadoff against the Bristol Blues in last year’s FCBL championship series, hitting a two-run double in the deciding game to help deliver Worcester its fourth championship.
It’s that leadership that Martin was proud of down the stretch last year.
“The first quarter of the year… I was focused on making my spot, and getting the respect from your teammates,” Martin says. “If you can’t get that respect, they’re not going to follow you into battle.”
To Martin, accountability is a big part of earning that respect among his teammates.
“I’ve always been a dude people want to play with because I challenge you,” Martin says. “Accountability is very important to me. I think that’s something that helps win games, is when everyone feels they have to do their job.”
Martin’s been on one heck of a streak over the last several years.
In 2017, Martin was a member of the Shrewsbury American Legion team that went on a Cinderella run, all the way to the American Legion World Series in North Carolina.
Two years later, as a freshman on the Westfield State Owls, Martin’s bat shone. He hit .331, and helped the Owls attain a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. In the deciding game, Martin’s solo home run was key to Westfield taking down the title.
After the Owls’ season ended, Martin joined the Bravehearts.
Back at Westfield State in 2020, Martin started the season red-hot, hitting .455 with five doubles before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All Martin has done is win. Through all of that, he has prided himself on both his toughness and versatility.
During that American Legion run, Martin injured his knee while sliding into second base. He tried running it off, but ended up being taken off the field on a stretcher. The next night, after beginning the game in the dugout on crutches, Martin nabbed an infield single as a pinch hitter. He’s a man who refuses to go down.
Martin spent time for the Bravehearts at four different positions in 2019: right field, catcher, left field, and third base. Wherever he’s needed, Martin plays.
When the Bravehearts take to the field, whenever that may be, Martin will be raring to go. He’s ready to get back to living his dream.