SAN DIEGO – Francis Parker alum Nick Allen has been steadily climbing the rungs of minor league baseball’s ladder since being drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2017.
Soon, the Tokyo Olympic hopeful could play for something bigger than a spot on a big league roster.
“Obviously, I want to be a Major League Baseball player but helping USA win the gold medal in the Olympics, that’s something that I never thought could happen,” Allen said. “’Cause I just didn’t know it was a thing, but now knowing that it’s an opportunity, this is amazing and I’m just fortunate to be in this situation.”
From San Diego to a worldwide stage, Allen is eyeing a spot on the final roster of the U.S. national baseball team led by longtime Angels manager Mike Scioscia in Japan this summer. This year marks the sport’s official return to the Olympics after last being played during the 2008 games in Beijing.
Five of the six teams in the games — the U.S., Israel, Japan, Korea and Mexico — already are decided with the last team named after a final qualifying round that wraps up Saturday in Puebla, Mexico.
This U.S. was 4-0 in qualifying games, punching its ticket into this year’s Olympics after a 4-2 victory over Venezuela earlier this month in Florida. Allen started most of those qualifying games at shortstop, so he’s feeling positive about his chances of landing on the final roster.
“It would mean a lot,” he said. “First, to represent the country and just represent kind of all that I’ve worked for in my baseball journey.”
If it happens, he told FOX 5 that he’d love his family to be able to watch in person, but as only local fans are being allowed in due to the pandemic, they’d likely have to stick to a watch party in San Diego.
Allen also trusts the right safety precautions would be in place to keep athletes safe.
“I’m not that nervous about it,” he said. “I’m just going to go about doing my business, washing my hands, wearing my mask if need be. I think from there on, I think USA will have all the guidelines for us to try to go in there and be as safe as possible, so we can keep playing and make sure we don’t miss any games.”
Now playing in Midland, Texas as a member of the Double-A Midland RockHounds, he’s gotten used to playing in front of full capacity games, something that many professional ballplayers are still getting used to again as pandemic restrictions are lifted across the country.
He said it would be odd not to play in front of fans in Tokyo, a proposal floated at various points by officials.
“Hopefully they can do something to get fans in there and have it be safe,” Allen said. “Obviously as a player, you want this experience to be filled with fans because the support is what baseball players need to keep going.”
The team’s final roster will be released on or after July 1. Allen has a feeling he’ll make the cut.
“I know we can’t say anything yet, but I think there’s a good chance,” he said. “If all goes well and I stay healthy, I’ll have a good opportunity of hopefully doing this thing.”