Photo By Bill Marchington
My Tribute To CJ Nitkowski
What can I say about CJ, another of my big stars? Well at least he is to me.
The first time I saw him pitch was in 1996 on his first tour of duty with the Tigers. I was down in Detroit to see the Jays play the Tigers. It was the last game of the series, a mid-week afternoon game I believe. I don't remember who got the win, but I'm almost sure it must have been the Jays, as CJ did not fair too well that day. The game stuck in my mind though, as it was one of the very few games, maybe even the first that Shawn had faced a left hander. His name also stuck in my mind too. Okay I have a thing for unusual names.
I followed CJ somewhat once he was traded to Houston in late '96, but it was really when he was traded back to Detroit in early '99 that I really started to follow his career more closely. It was then that he joined my list of players whom I wanted to meet. He always seemed to go about his business with so much dedication.
It was late last winter when I discovered that CJ had his own web site. Totally maintained by him. It gave a wonderful insight to the world of baseball that fans normally have no chance of seeing, including the clubhouse, and inside a playerís world. A fantastic site for sure. You can visit CJ's site at: CJBaseball.Com
This season I have tried to follow CJ's career as much as I could. After starting slowly as a starter his season really took off when he was moved to the bullpen. The hi-light was when I actually got to meet him for the first time this May. He was every bit as nice as I hoped he would be. I always wonder if I will be disappointed when I do get to meet one of my favorites in case they turn out to be a jerk. CJ is anything but. His kind gentle manor and caring for others left me a bigger admirer than I had been to start with. This made him an All-Star to me, no matter what anyone else says. I have since met him several times, and he's always been the same great person he was that first time.
Good luck CJ, and thanks for your kindness. I will always be behind you 100% of the way.
Born: Suffern NY
Education: Don Bosco (NJ) High School and then St. Johnís (NY) University.
Selected by Cincinnati in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1994 June draft.
Acquired by Detroit along with Dave Tuttle and a player to be named (Mark Lewis) on July 31, 1995, in exchange for David Wells.
ed by Houston along with Brad Ausmus, Jose Lima, Trever Miller and Daryle Ward on December 10, 1996, in exchange for Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter, Todd Jones, Orlando Miller and cash.
Acquired by Detroit along with Brad Ausmus on January 14, 1999, in exchange for Paul Bako, Dean Crow, Brian Powell, Mark Persails and Carlos Villalobos.
Info from the official Detroit Tigers web site.