‘He was that kid that always had a baseball bat’: San Diegan’s journey to Tokyo Games



San Diego’s own shortstop Nick Allen, who plays for Team USA and the Oakland Athletics, was just two years old when he was gifted his first baseball bat. Ever since then, his life has revolved around the sport.

“He was that kid that always had a baseball bat and was swinging in front of the TV,” his sister Lisa Vande Vegte said. “I’d be like, ‘Nick, get out of the way!’”

The Francis Parker alum was a bat boy for the Aztecs from the age of eight through 12. According to his dad, Tom Allen, he didn’t really like it, nor was he all that concerned about his grades in school. That is until Tony Gwynn changed Nick Allen’s perspective one day.

His father said Gwynn asked his son where he was going to college and Nick Allen said, “‘I’m not going to college, I’m going straight to the pros.’”

“You’re not going straight to the pros,” Gwynn said, according to Tom Allen. “If you’re not good in school, you’re never going to play pro baseball.”

Tom Allen said his son asked Gwynn what he meant by that comment.

“Well, if you don’t get good grades in school, you’re never going to have the opportunity to play professional baseball,” Tom Allen recounted Gwynn saying.

Nick Allen then asked if Gwynn was serious.

Good grades and countless baseball awards later, Nick Allen ended up not playing college ball, and was instead drafted by the Athletics in 2017. While the dream is still to make it to the big leagues, something else was calling his name  — the Olympics in Tokyo. 

“It’s been really nice to see,” Nick Allen’s sister Kaylee Allen said. “It’s still dark out (during the games) and we’re wide awake. I mean, I woke up at 2:30 (a.m.). I didn’t even need an alarm, I was like, ‘I’m ready to go.’”

Nick Allen’s mother Cathi Allen said the bond that he made with the team has been incredible.

“They all got along and they all treated him like he was their little brother,” Cathi Allen said. “It was just really, really cool.”

While Nick Allen would’ve loved his family to be with him in Tokyo, he says he was able to FaceTime them when he got his silver medal, after falling to Japan 2-0 in the gold medal match.

“I’m proud to be a part of this team,” Nick said. “I know these guys are so talented and have accomplished a lot in their careers, but to walk away with silver and be a medalist in the Olympics is something I’ll never forget, and I think our whole team will cherish.”

Tom Allen said he wants the world to know that his son cares so much about the game of baseball and that it’s his lifelong dream.

“He told my father that his lifelong dream was to play Major League Baseball and that he would do it, whatever it took and that passion when he was young is what’s led us to help support him,” Allen said as tears filled up his eyes.

Nick Allen was also named to the All-Olympic team. However, the true icing on the cake came when he received a call after getting his silver medal, letting his father know he was promoted to the Triple-A team Las Vegas Aviators.

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