Baldwin City — Baker University’s baseball team had heard plenty about Vidal Nuno.
Friday, the Wildcats met him.
Nuno, a former Baker pitcher who recently was called up by the New York Yankees, visited the Baker campus Friday. His Yankees are in Kansas City, Mo., for a three-day series with the Royals that began Friday.
“(The Wildcats) heard me talk about Nuno,” Baker coach Phil Hannon said, “but for them to actually see him, I think they were kind of in awe.”
Hannon picked up Nuno from his hotel early Friday morning and brought him back to Baker to meet with Baker President Pat Long, athletic director Teresa Yetmar and a few students.
“I had goose bumps seeing campus,” said Nuno, a left-handed reliever.
Junior Thomas Hawkins, a right-handed pitcher for the Wildcats, had met Nuno before, but he said it was still a cool experience, especially for the younger players on the team.
“It was really good for the underclassmen to meet him,” Hawkins said. “It’s cool to see their eyes light up and think, ‘He can do it. I can too,’ and see the passion those kids have. Players who just got into a college sport might eventually lose that want and drive and need and will to play, and I think it re-sparked that flame.”
Nuno talked to them about working hard to achieve goals, what it was like pursuing a professional career and the changes he has gone through since being called up to play for the Yankees two weeks ago. Nuno told the players to keep working hard, don’t have regrets and to never give up.
Hannon said Nuno’s hard work made him successful in baseball but said Nuno’s humble attitude and how he continues to remember the people supporting him are what make Hannon proud to be his coach.
“It shows the character of Nuno to come back to Baker,” Hannon said. “A professional player’s time is very limited. Nuno doesn’t forget his roots or the good experiences he has, and he’s always wanting to give back.”