It appeared the universe had no interest in Nick Grady playing professional baseball. It teased Grady, an Erskine Academy graduate, with promises and potential, only to pull back the curtain to reveal another disappointment.

The universe must have let its guard down, because here Grady is, in Newburgh, N.Y., playing third base for the independent league Newburgh Newts.

“This has been my dream since I was a kid,” Grady, who graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2013, said.

Two years ago, Grady was a Division III All-American at USM. Grady hit .395 with two home runs and 60 runs batted in for the Huskies that season, helping the team finish in second place at the Division III College World Series.

Grady took last year off from baseball, but this year, he and Tucker White, a USM teammate and the 2013 Division III national Player of the Year, worked on finding jobs playing professional baseball. Grady and White thought they had spots lined up on a team in Germany, but just before they were set to go to Europe, they were told the team’s management decided it would not add any more American players.

Grady and White then went to a tryout training camp in Delaware for the East Coast Baseball League. They played well, and earned spots in the independent league. Then, more bad news just before the start of the season.


“I found out the league folded,” Grady said.

All was not lost. Bruce Zicari, owner of the Watertown (N.Y.) Bucks, one of the teams set to play in the ECBL, created a new league. Zicari brought the Newburgh Newts, Old Orchard Beach Surge, and Road City Explorers along with the Bucks to the North Country Baseball League.

There was a team, and a roster spot in Newburgh, if Grady wanted it.

The season opened on May 29, and Grady has played well. In the first couple weeks of the season, Grady was hitting around .400, with a home run, 12 RBIs, and 12 runs scored from the middle of the Newts order. In a recent 12-1 win over Watertown, Grady went 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs, and scored three runs. The Newts are off until Wednesday, when they host Old Orchard Beach for the first game of a three-game series.

The North Country Baseball League is a fledgling independent league, but there is talent on the field, Grady said.

“It’s definitely a lot more competitive than anything I’ve played,” Grady said. “I saw pretty good baseball playing for USM, but it’s more consistent down here.”


Other than summers playing in the Twilight League when he was in college, Grady hasn’t swung a wooden bat often. He’s getting used to it.

“Luckily, I haven’t broken my bats yet,” Grady said.

The money isn’t great. Players are paid between $500 and $800 per month, but meals and housing are taken care of. On Sunday, Grady and his teammates planned to move into a dorm at the nearby New York Military Academy, which agreed to house players once the school year was over.

The bus rides are long. Newburgh sits on the Hudson River, 70 miles north of New York City, and it’s a five-hour bus ride to both Watertown and Old Orchard Beach. Home crowds haven’t been great, Grady said, and soon, the Newts will compete for fans with the Hudson Valley Renegades, a New York-Penn League Single A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays that plays in nearby Fishkill, N.Y.

Newburgh plays at Old Orchard Beach at the end of June. Grady is looking forward to the homecoming, and playing against White, who earned a spot with the Surge.

“I’ve got a lot of people who plan on coming to watch,” Grady said.


At the small independent league level of baseball, you want to play well enough to attract the attention of a major league team, who will sign you to a minor league contract and send you to an affiliated club. If Grady continues to play well, he could end up playing someplace else, like nearby Fishkill, for example.

“I’m hoping to move up. That’s the goal. That’s everybody’s goal,” Grady said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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