By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
PITTSBURG, Kan. —
When your dad’s a baseball coach, there are times it can be difficult to just sit back and enjoy watching a game.
“We’d be watching a game on TV and he’d be quizzing me about why they would bunt in this situation or where he needs to hit the ball,” St. Mary’s-Colgan senior Nate Grimaldi said. “It was annoying at the time, but it’s paid off now. In game situations, I can hear a little voice in the back of my head telling me ‘you need to hit a ground ball to the right side, or you need to get this bunt down.’ I think it’s contributed a lot to my game.”
Grimaldi, the son of former Pittsburg State assistant and Pittsburg High School head coach Gary Grimaldi, will take those lessons with him as he continues his baseball career with the NCAA Division II Drury Panthers. Alongside his parents Gary and Debbie, Nate Grimaldi signed his letter of intent on Monday at St. Mary’s-Colgan High School.
“He’s a young man who’s been committed to baseball his whole life,” Colgan coach Mike Watt said. “He’s played all summer, worked hard and gone to camps. It’s always satisfying as a coach, and I’m sure for his family, to see a dream come true from the time and effort he’s put into it. He’s going to be a good college player. He’s got a lot of the tools, the speed and arm strength and the commitment. You have to be committed to the game to do well, and he’s going to succeed there.”
The Colgan outfielder earned second-team Class 3A all-state honors and unanimous first-team all-CNC recognition as a junior. Grimaldi was a freshman on Colgan’s 2A state championship team in 2010 and helped the Panthers to a state runner-up finish in 2011.
Gary Grimaldi played at Pittsburg State from 1968-1971, then served as an assistant for the Gorillas from 1994-1999 and from 2006-2008. He served as Pittsburgh High’s head coach from 2000-2005.
The baseball background was definitely passed down to Nate. He grew up with a full baseball field in his backyard.
“My first memories are being with him when he was coaching at Pittsburg High School and being in the dugout,” Nate Grimaldi said. “He’s told me that when I was born, he had me at the Pitt State dugout when he was coaching and showing me off to the team. I just kind of grew up in the dugouts and being a bat boy.”
However, Gary won’t take the credit for Nate’s speed. He said that came from Debbie.
“He steadily improved each year, and he stepped it up another level this year,” Watt said. “His arm strength has really improved. The one thing you can’t coach is the speed. He’s got that factor that will separate him from a lot of other players.”