Utility player becoming leader for Missouri baseball team

Friday, April 2, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Brett Nicholas, a junior utility player for Missouri, played as a freshman at Gonzaga where he was put in left field with little hope of trying different positions. So he left the Bulldogs to seek a better experience and played a year of junior college ball before coming to MU.

COLUMBIA — While sitting in the dugout during a game last weekend at Texas A&M, Brett Nicholas got bored and decided to make a toy microphone out of a paper cup.

It wasn’t long before a teammate came to razz him about it, telling Nicholas his voice boomed just fine without a microphone.

“I’ve got one of those voices that you can recognize from about a mile away,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas, a junior utility player on the Missouri baseball team, doesn’t use his voice to annoy his teammates, he uses it to encourage them.

During a scrimmage Thursday at Taylor Stadium, everyone on the field could hear Nicholas’ distinct voice screaming, “Let’s go Jersey!” in support of Jesse Santo, and “Here we go Plackie!” giving encouragement to Andreas Plackis.

Santo and Plackis were playing on the other team, but Nicholas didn’t care. Nicholas said he hopes his teammates appreciate what he does.

“I’d like to think that they think of me as a hard worker and a leader,” Nicholas said. “Someone who is always going out there giving 100 percent no matter what the score is.”

Nicholas transferred to MU from a junior college in Arizona. He played his freshman year at Gonzaga where he was put in left field with little hope of trying different positions. So he left the Bulldogs to seek a better experience.

Nicholas’ dream is to be a professional ballplayer, not an announcer, even though he has the voice for it. Nicholas said he felt like his skill set was better suited for a catcher and part-time infielder. He knew he would have to forfeit a year of playing Division I baseball, but he was willing to make the sacrifice.

Coach Tim Jamieson said his first impression of Nicholas was that he was very mature and knew what he wanted.

“He has a plan,” Jamieson said. “He has a vision. He wasn’t going to be able to accomplish it where he was, so he wasn’t afraid to go backwards a step to go where he wanted to go.”

Nicholas continues to make an impression with his support of his teammates, but Jamieson said the real statement he has made is with his bat. Nicholas has hit so well that Jamieson has made him the club’s cleanup hitter.

“I think he’s a guy that obviously likes to be involved in pressure situations,” Jamieson said. “He’s someone who’s has earned the respect of his teammates, even though he’s been here less than a year.”

Nicholas credits his maturity to his ability to keep his emotions in check. He said he doesn’t want it to sound sexist, but he thinks that living  with his mother and two sisters helped him gain some perspective.

Nicholas said he knows he has to stay level-headed approaching Missouri's first Big 12 Conference home series. The Tigers are set to play Baylor beginning at 6 p.m., Friday at Taylor Stadium.

“I’m pretty anxious for it,” Nicholas said. "I’m excited to see how our fans respond to the crowd that we went to last weekend at A&M.”

Catcher Ryan Ampleman said he and Nicholas get along great. Ampleman enjoys Nicholas’ constant talking and said Nicholas is always doing something positive.

Ampleman said he knows Nicholas won’t have any problem adjusting to Big 12 play offensively. He said the main thing Nicholas should concentrate on is his job behind the plate where they will likely split time this weekend.

“We’ve talked,” Ampleman said. “When you’re playing, obviously the intensity gets higher with the talent with the Big 12. Really, just being able to handle the pitchers is the one thing he’s going to nail down.”

Nicholas’ ability to play different positions shows his versatility as player. Jamieson said Nicholas' versatile personality is good for the sport.

“In baseball, you’ve got to be intense yet laid back," Jamieson said. "And he’s got that. He has great focus, but he’s also able to relax.”

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ART PEDERSEN April 7, 2010 | 11:45 p.m.

If you're impressed with Brett after only a few weeks of following MU's 2010 season, well you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The comments about Brett in this article are 'right on.' The rest of his college career story must include his MVP
status in both summer college leagues in 08 and 09: one in CCanada and the other in Texas. Those who know him well are truly excited for him and expect those he comes in contact to become big fans just like us. Pay attention to this player, because he is the one to watch!

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