NEW YORK — American Baseball is thriving in Poland. It is being played in 36 locations throughout the Republic of Poland. Sometimes making a switch makes all the difference in the world. The Ministry for Sports and Tourism should take notice.
This is the caliber of player that would be eligible and could help propel the Polish National Baseball Team to the next level. Poland could still qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Change is difficult.
Having to learn a new position in a team sport is extremely difficult. Learning to switch from catcher to pitcher is extra complicated. Nick Paciorek is making that jump in leaps and bounds as he surely stood out in Big Ten Conference play this spring.
Formerly a utility catcher at Northwestern University, the junior is now making his mark as a closer. When Wildcat’s coach Spencer Allen needed a stopper this season, he called on his new relief ace, Nick Paciorek.
Three of his uncles, John, Tom and Jim played in Major League Baseball. Nick has both the DNA and pedigree to succeed. The transition was smoother because he has a great fastball. He put in the work on his pitching mechanic’s. According to Chicago-land MLB scouts his fastball moves and his slider has even more movement. Furthermore, the right-hander also has great 6’3” and 200 pound power frame and he has strong and long legs. Nick Paciorek is now a relief pitcher personified.
Nick had a great high school baseball success in Southern California. He was located there because his father works in the movie business. He thrived as a catcher in high school but the transition to D-I in the Big Ten Conference was a bit thorny.
He didn’t have immediate success in making the transition. In his first game pitching for NU last season, with the game against Indiana out of hand, Paciorek got some mop-up action. He proceeded to walk the first batter he faced to load the bases, then the next three hitters were hit-by-pitch, then a single and walk. He got the fifth batter he faced for an inning-ending out.
Metro Chicago land was the base of operations of the ever popular broadcast personality, Tom Paciorek. The Detroit native-son and uncle to Nick is an honored member of the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame (1992). He didn’t have a respectable collegiate start either. Tom made five errors in his inaugural varsity game for the University of Houston as a sophomore. It was his first and last game at second base for the Cougars. A change of positions worked out very well for him also. He became a two-time NCAA All-America in 1967 and ‘68 for Houston. Also, as an outfielder and first baseman, Tom parlayed his perseverance for excellence into an outstanding 18 year Major League Baseball career. The episode is hilariously humorous when Tom Paciorek tells the story of that long ago baseball anecdote.
Tom also was the shortstop for the Hamtramck Pony League age-group team (14-Under) that won the AABC National Championship in 1961. The team was made up of primarily Polish-Americans.
Nick is following the same path of perseverance for excellence. Season highlights include, appearing in 20 games out of the bullpen. He led the team with a 3.37 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and three saves and held opponents to a .196 batting average. “I always had belief I could do it. Last year, I was just a thrower and this year I’m a pitcher,” Nick Paciorek said.
He is the son of Mike and Staci Paciorek. His dad was the second-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1973 amateur draft. Mike excelled on the sandlots of Detroit and also played five seasons in the minor leagues.
The recently concluded MLB draft was a three day affair that took place in Secaucus, New Jersey. Nick Paciorek was the 225th pick taken in the 7th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees.
Raymond Rolak is a retired Michigan sports broadcaster, recently returned from Poland where he coached baseball and taught English.