6'3", 230 pound Nate Gold will soon be on his way to Virginia to begin his professional baseball career. He'll start with a Single-A team in the Texas Rangers farm system. What lies beyond Virginia is anybody's guess.
But Nate has already come a long ways to get where he's at, though his path has been slowly working its way north toward Spokane.
I caught up with the prolific homerun hitter right after he met with a Rangers scout. You see, Nate Gold had just been drafted in the 10th round by the Arlington, Texas, team and his days as a Gonzaga Bulldog were winding down fast. School is out, the college season is over and Gold is ready to take his skills to the next level.
There is no "set" plan in pro baseball. Nate broke the Gonzaga and NCAA homerun record with 33 blasts but he knows full well that he could end up being traded around from team to team as he strives to rise to the major league level. Or he could be a Ranger for life.
The awards and accolades earned by the Treasure Valley CC transfer are almost too numerous to recount. He was the WCC Player of the Year and a finalist for the most prestigious awards in college ball.
Born and raised ten miles north of Salt Lake City, Gold played football and baseball in high school and became a star on the diamond. But no four-year college actively recruited him, so he chose the junior college route, which Nate describes as the best route to follow, anyway. "You really have to be outstanding to go straight from high school to a four year school," he explained. "You can spend all of your time on the bench."
That doesn't sound like "Play ball!" to me.
After his career at the Oregon junior college, Gonzaga and NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State recruited Nate. Asked if he had any regrets about choosing GU over a smaller college that seems to always make it to the NAIA World Series, and Nate couldn't say enough good things about Gonzaga.
He loves Gonzaga and wouldn't trade his experience on Boone Avenue for anything. Coach Hertz is the "godfather of baseball" and Gold marvels at the head coach's baseball knowledge, which he says translates to life. "Coach Hertz teaches us to respect the game," Nate says.
Nate will take fond memories of Gonzaga with him as he prepares for his next life, including games against San Francisco and St. Mary's where he was hitting every pitch over the fence that came his way, and the indoor practices on hardwood during freezing ather before flying south to play teams that practice outside all the time, or even the disastrous late-season slump that cost the Zags a shot at postseason.
But Gold is more than just a slugger. He describes his first base abilities as good. "I can consistantly make the routine play and the spectacular play once in awhile."
Coach Hertz's brother Bill Hertz will be helping Nate with his first pro contract and Gold is as optimistic and pumped up as anyone could be. Like he explained, "I'm not in this to play in the minor leagues all my career, I'm aiming for the big league."
Don't bet against him. He might be starting alongside A-Rod before anyone thinks. One thing is certain: A nicer, more courteous person, you won't find.
Nate is a great guy and as good as Gold. Zags Hoops thanks Nate for his time during busy days and wishes him all the best this summer and beyond. He was a great Zag and is an ambassador for the school.