A Boston Favorite

Trot Nixon becomes "Dirt Dog" and Daddy in a Single Season
by Rita McKenzie Fisher

For Trot Nixon, a 28-year-old outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, the world changed in more than one way on September 11 (9.1.1). An early morning phone call from his wife, Kathryn, informed him that she was in labor with their first child. Nixon, who was with his team in Tampa for a series with the Devil Rays, quickly caught a commercial flight back home.

He was already in the air when the planes originating from Boston's Logan Airport hit the towers of the World Trade Center. Nixon's plane was diverted to Norfolk, Virginia.

Amid the confusion and devastation of learning about the horrific events, Nixon telephoned his parents' home in North Carolina. They picked him up in Norfolk and drove straight through to Boston to meet Chase Trotman Nixon, thirteen hours old by the time they arrived.

At first, it was difficult to fully celebrate his son's birth, but Nixon says, "God brought him into the world on that day for a purpose." Boston Globe sportswriter, Dan Shaughnessy, wrote that Chase's birth brought a ray of joy and hope in the midst of the tragedies.

Boston fans also believed naming the baby was a hopeful sign that his dad would help the Red Sox "chase" down a World Series championship. Nixon, a fan favorite, last year won the local Fox affiliate's "Fan's Choice Award" and another fan award-"Dirt Dog of the Year." A fan web site says, "Trot plays hard, he plays hurt, and never whines or makes excuses." He dives into the stands to make spectacular catches and is aggressive at the plate, often stretching singles into doubles. He also played the most games (148) for the Red Sox during the 2001 season.

Nixon thinks fans identify with his "passion for wanting to win." Even when the team was out of contention and the malaise after 9.1.1. depleted the enthusiasm for many players and fans. Nixon gave it his all. He was proud that he "battled all the way to the end."

In Boston's current spring training program, (now former) Red Sox Manager Joe Kerrigan said of Nixon, "If you're a fan you like watching him play. His intensity kind of oozes over into the fans."

Nixon learned to play hard and develop a strong work ethic (something else Boston fans appreciate) from his father, who was a doctor. Nixon's respect for the fans is the reason he gives 110 percent on every play. "You never know when some youngster in the stands may be watching you for the first time," he says. "You always want them to see you at your best."

The 2001 campaign was the best yet for the Durham, N.C., native, who batted .280, hammered 27 home runs, drove in 88 RBI's and scored 100 runs. Defensively he had seven assists from the right field-not surprising given the he was an all-state pitcher in high school. The Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association voted him the 2001 Red Sox Most Valuable Player.

He considers it a "true hone to be selected MVP by the Boston media," whom he feels are among the very best. Nixon's attitude with the media is, "Respect all the way around. You respect me and I respect you." It appears to be mutual. The same group previously selected him twice as minor league player of the year in the Boston organization and the 1999 co-rookie of the year with Brian Daubach.

Respect is a characteristic that Nixon carries over the teammates as well. "In any awards I have received, from high school to the pros, it takes teammates working hard behind you," he says. He always gives credit to his fellow players and the coaching staff and he believes strongly, "The day I start playing for myself should be my last day in professional baseball."

Teamwork and respect for others is also an integral part of Nixon's life. He credits his mom as the person who invested time in taking him to church as a child. It was a woman in his mom's Bible study that actually introduced him to Christ as his personal Savior back in 1993. However, like many young people, Nixon says he strayed from his Christian faith and made a lot of mistakes.

Nixon says he was trying to lead a Christian life but still found himself floundering until he and his wife Kathryn began attending Bible studies with Athletes in Action Boston pro director, Walt Day. Nixon is now mentored by Day and Mike Stanley, a former teammate in 1998-99 and a Boston coach who serves as a father figure and spiritual guide on the team. Stanley gave Nixon an NIV Study Bible that he uses daily.

As the 2002 Red Sox season continues, should Nixon go into a slump or begin to develop a bad attitude, he has his spiritual support team in place. "Walt Day, Kathryn and others will intercede and hold me accountable-calling me to take some quiet time and pray," he says.

Prayer has become a vital part of Nixon's daily life. As a leader in the clubhouse and a fan favorite, Nixon takes seriously his responsibilities as a positive role model in the Boston area and beyond. Nowhere does he feel that responsibility more than at home. Helping with baths and diapers, Nixon is an active dad. His wife says Chase and Trot are great playmates and he certainly counts those fun times with his son as treasured moments. Yet he feels strongly the need to model a Christian way of life in his family. "It would be a blessing to someday introduce Chase to the truth of Jesus Christ," he says.

Reprinted by permission, Athletes In Action.

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