Tag Archive | "Breanne Nasti"

The Kid from Baldwin

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With each new day that dawns, we awake to some fresh new hell a la the economy, a corrupt and uncaring government, and the latest antics of celebrities whose behavior crosses the line into the criminal and who, due to their fame, get away with all manner of crimes and misdemeanors.   All of this bad news is boring and disheartening.  I think we need a little change to let the sun shine in.  Ergo, I offer you this story about how, on Friday, January 13, 2012, my wife and I experienced a ray of hope that brightened our lives.  It reminded us that there is more to crying over the spilled milk of our nation’s woes.  It reminded us that there is indeed a glimmer of hope for the future.

This story begins in 1983, when I had joined in holy matrimony with my wife Priscilla (a.k.a. ,Pat).  I was widowed, and she was divorced.  We both had a desire to start a new life and to start that life together.  I had two sons and she had two daughters and a son.  All of our children were either adults or in their late teens.

Pat’s oldest daughter, Karen, was married.  Karen and her husband presented us with the first addition to our soon to be combined family, a baby girl named Breanne Elis Nasti.  In addition to my family, Breanne was in attendance in 1983 with her parents and her Uncle Larry and Aunt Laurie at our nuptials.

Over the years, we would spend weekends with Pat’s children on Long Island, New York, with Karen’s home serving as the meeting place.  Karen’s family lived in the town of Baldwin, which constituted a major trip from South Jersey for Pat and me.  We’d enter the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 4 and depart at Exit 13.  Over the Goethals Bridge and into Staten Island we drove, then over the Verrazano Bridge to the Belt Parkway, with the hope of reaching Baldwin in two hours. Often, it was a hope that died aborning, given the notorious traffic jams that plagued the leg of the trip from Queens, New York to Long Island and on the Island itself.  But the trips were worth it.

Breanne (Bree) seemed to be growing up overnight when her little brother, Tom Junior, came along. Bree’s dad, Tom Senior, was active in sports.  Impatient to get his children into the swing of things, he didn’t wait until his son was old enough to compete in sports.  Instead, he initiated  Bree into the art of baseball.  Tom Senior managed a Little League Team in Baldwin and it was rumored that one of the members of his team was a girl.  The rumors proved correct for, as you’ve no doubt guessed, when his daughter donned a uniform and a catcher’s mask, she passed for a boy.

Bree was a “lefty.”  Of all the positions in baseball, left-handed catchers were rare if not unknown, but despite this handicap, Bree handled the position very well.  When her brother Tom  joined the league as a pitcher, it was a match made in heaven.  Throughout their careers in Little League, they learned to be team players instead of pampered stars.

Bree played in Baldwin High School as a CF (Center Fielder).  She set an unbroken national high school record with a .774 batting average and led the Bruins to the program’s first Nassau Class-A title.  Her achievements are recorded in the Who’s Who among American High School Students.

A standout center fielder, she also hit for power with 9 doubles, 13 triples, 6 home runs and 45 RBIs.  “She’s an aggressive batter who’s not going to go down looking,” praised Coach Kerry.

Breanne graduated Baldwin High School as a Scholar/Athlete with high honors.  After graduation, Bree maintained her softball skills by joining traveling teams on Long Island while seeking a college scholarship.

It was at one of these try-outs that she caught the attention of University of Buffalo Coach Mary Curran, who was scouting to build a woman’s softball team at UB.  Ms. Curran commented, “I saw this lanky girl drive balls into deep center field, and I signed her up to play at UB.”

Coach Curran had found a diamond in the rough.  With a little coaching and a little polish, Curran was confident that she would create a jewel.  In one of her press releases during the season, the coach remarked, “Breanne’s opponents would choose to give her a walk rather than pitch to her, because they knew if they did otherwise, she could destroy their game.”

Breanne Nasti (’04) arrived on the Buffalo softball scene just as the Bulls were beginning Division 1 play and were entering their first year of competition in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).  She gave the Bulls instant credibility as an All-MAC performer and three time Regional All-American. A career .387 hitter, Breanne still owns the MAC record for batting average in a season (.451), and most of the major offensive records at Buffalo.  She is the Bulls’ career leader in batting average (.387), home runs (27), hits (197), doubles (46), runs (93), RBIs (113), and walks (66).

During her college career, I kept track of Bree’s records via the Internet.  In my emails to her, I would always praise her performances, but she would always reply, “Pop, they’re only stats.”  Always a team player, Bree never sought or wanted praise.  And when she completed her academic career at UB, she graduated with a BA with academic honors.  I compiled all of the records and stats of her softball career and made a booklet for her memories, which I had presented to her.  I titled it, “That Nasti Girl.”

Even though she went to the trouble of getting Pat and me tickets to her graduation ceremony, she understood that our age and health required that we regretfully decline her invitation.  As a Johnny Come Lately to the family, I do not have any blood ties to my wife’s family, but they still honor me as a grandparent.

January 13, 2012 was Bree’s day to be honored by the University of Buffalo through induction into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Frantically, I searched the Internet for a possible video,  so that we could witness her induction through the miracle of technology.  With the aid of Google.com, I found that video.

Calling my wife to the computer, we sat spellbound as the ceremony unfolded.  After two inductees were presented, our moment arrived as the announcer introduced our granddaughter.  With great pride, we watched and listened to her acceptance speech.  True to her convictions, she had included everyone who had touched her life and had brought her to this prestigious award.  She ended her acceptance speech with, “Go, Bulls!”

We must have watched the video a dozen times, commenting upon her achievements and reminiscing about the days when she was the Kid from Baldwin.  We spoke of her journey through life that brought her to this day.

In retrospect, while viewing the video, I realized how time has changed our dear granddaughter.  But, the apple did not fall far from the tree as I saw similarities between Bree and her mother, in the way that the younger woman looked and spoke with confidence and humility.  The kid from Baldwin is no kid anymore.  She has blossomed into a lovely young woman, and I’m proud to call her my granddaughter.

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