One of the “Boys of Summer” from my Childhood

photo / AJC

photo / AJC

Scott Smith – -

In baseball, the players are known as the “boys of summer”.  There are plenty of famous boys of summer spanning from Babe Ruth to Jackie Robinson to Chipper Jones.  Do any of you remember Nick Esasky, an Atlanta Braves player from the 1990’s?  As I was listening to the Braves winning streak end to the Marlins Saturday evening, I thought, “What ever happened to Nick Esasky?”

Esasky played major league baseball for seven years and was on the Braves’ roster for three of those years.  He ended up only playing nine games the first season, due to Vertigo.  Esasky never played in the major leagues again.  As a young radio announcer, I would sit in the radio booth and listen to the broadcast of the baseball games.  I felt a sense of loss when it was announced that Esasky’s career would be cut short due to a diagnosis of Vertigo.

Esasky’s spent most of his baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds, who he began playing for in 1983.  In 1989, as a player for the Boston Red Sox, Esasky had his best season; he hit .277 with 30 home runs and 108 batted in.  His career batting average was .250 with 122 home runs and 427 runs batted in.

At the end of the 1989 season Esasky was a free agent and signed a three year, $5.6 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.  Esasky signing with the Braves was big news due to his statistics.  The day after signing, Esasky was on the Georgia Bulldogs broadcast with my friend, Loran Smith.  Esasky played only nine games with the Braves when an ear infection led to Vertigo.  The diagnosis made it impossible for Esasky to continue playing the game he loved.

According to reports, Esasky still suffers from the condition. Esasky was quoted as saying, “You can either let it eat you and swallow you, or you can live with it and make the most of what you’ve got”. Esasky faced adversity off the field about 7 years ago when his daughter battled a serious methamphetamine addiction.  Esasky went on to start the Kids in Meth foundation.  Esasky, now 53, reportedly continues to live in Atlanta.

As the baseball season winds down during the dog days of summer I’ll always remember the summer of 1990 and Nick Esasky’s as an Atlanta Brave.

 

Scott Smith is Publisher and a contributor to Classic City Today

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