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Nashua's Kevin Nolan: A true NH Fisher Cat
Kevin Nolan, a graduate of Nashua South High School, is the first New Hampshire native to play for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
The state's top high school baseball player in 2006 found his way home this week as the first New Hampshire native playing for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
"I can sleep in my own bed and be home," Nolan said Tuesday during Media Day at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
He enjoyed leftover Easter ham on Monday, when he flew from spring training to Manchester.
His parents have made a few upgrades in his room since the 2006 Nashua South grad left for college in South Carolina, but some of his adolescence remains on display inside his boyhood bedroom.
His mother, Brenda, said items from his younger baseball days include trophies from his Little League days.
"He has a (Derek) Jeter poster up," she said. "I don't know if I should say too much."
The 20th-round pick for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 cited the Yankees shortstop as the major league player he idolized growing up.
"He was always a class act and a good all-around baseball player, so I watched him a lot," Nolan said.
If all goes well for Nolan and the injured Jeter, the two shortstops could square off in an American League East game in a few years.
But for now, Nolan is focusing on building upon last year's season when he hit .316 with Single-A Dunedin last year.
Manager Gary Allenson said Nolan will be his starting shortstop and hit "somewhere in the middle of the lineup."
Playing in your home state "shouldn't change things at all, except for the fact he's probably leaving a couple more tickets than he'd normally leave," Allenson said in his ballpark office.
"It's not just Mom and Dad and brothers and sisters, but it's someone who you went to fifth grade with that you can't remember," the manager said. "The next thing you know you're leaving him four tickets. Just as long as it doesn't wear him down."
Nolan, who won the Gatorade New Hampshire Baseball Player of the Year honors in 2006, doesn't know how many complimentary tickets he will need for Thursday's home opener, but he might have to ask his teammates for some extras.
He expects his mother, father Chris and sister Candace to make most of his home games.
Last season, his parents spent much of their summer sitting on their deck with their laptop following games over the Internet.
But this year, his mother said, "I'm going to try to get to all of the home games and some of the away games that aren't too far," she said.
The shortstop thinks home cooking will help his game "as long as I stay away from my Mom's desserts, her sweets."
Nolan said her strawberry shortcake is "hard to say no to, hard to pass that up."
He plans to share the wealth with his teammates.
"Probably those day games on the weekend, if they want to come back and have home-cooked meals, we'll have a cookout," he said.
Nolan isn't the first Granite State native to play at the Fisher Cats ballpark.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke, a North Conway native born just 23 days before Nolan, pitched for the Pirates' minor league affiliate, the Altoona Curve, working a scoreless inning at the 2011 Eastern League All-Star Game held here.
Nolan may have found his way home, but he had trouble securing a uniform number Tuesday.
He wore Number 23 playing for Nashua and Dunedin, but infielder John Tolisano owns that. Nolan aimed for Number 9, but found the jersey too big. He donned Number 32 for a blustery afternoon workout.
Perhaps he should wear a "Made in New Hampshire" label instead.