On Wednesday, Minnich got a taste of his new world as he signed countless autographs for well-wishers before he was honored at Nathan Minnich Day at Municipal Stadium.
It was all so surreal. This day was booked weeks earlier to celebrate his college career. It turned into his coming-out party.
Minnich was peeking over the fence to see a future.
Somewhere in there, in the back of his head, Minnich probably began imagining replacing Adrian Gonzalez at first base in Fenway Park while wearing the number now affixed on the back of David Ortiz.
The reception he received from friends, relatives and fans as he greeted them at his autograph station was outstanding.
Some comments were very familiar.
“You know you have a big family,” said one woman.
“Take a picture with your old Sunday school teacher,” said another.
Some were businesslike.
“Congratulations for a job well done,” one man said.
Others had a spark of awe to them.
“We were scared of you way back of when you were in Little League,” another woman said.
And others just marveled at Minnich’s accomplishments.
“I had him in a couple of my classes and I would always tell him that he was in the wrong sport,” said Shepherd football coach Monte Cater. “I’d tell him he should have been a tight end. … Boy, was I wrong.”
But the resounding message was very uniform.
“We’re very proud of you,” came across more than once.
There was a small, but steady, stream of fans that came for the chance to pat Minnich on the back before he heads off to play for the Lowell Spinners in the New York Penn League.
Some wore the Red Sox red. Others were in Shepherd blue.
Minnich was in both, wearing a Red Sox cap with his blue Shepherd No. 34 jersey.
After signing Shepherd University baseball photos, tickets, hats and balls, after throwing the first pitch and after he talked to as many people as possible, Minnich made his way up the rickety spiral staircase to Municipal Stadium’s press box.
Once on the radio, he was asked “So, how’s it feel?”
Minnich took a deep breath and found a moment of clarity in a hectic twister of activity.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “Everything is coming together.”
We are often told not to be afraid to dream. Some of us fall short because we are shooting for Camelot when Paradise would be just fine.
Nathan Minnich dreamed, but he didn’t get Camelot or Paradise.
He got Boston.
Minnich’s dream started when he first stepped foot on a baseball diamond. It took work, dedication and some good fortune, but it came true.
And the best part of all? He was wide awake to experience it all.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at email@example.com.