DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado native Kirk Nieuwenhuis was a three-sport star at Denver Christian High School and is now the starting centerfielder for the New York Mets. CBS4 tracked him down at Coors Field last week.
From Denver Christian High School it takes about 15 minutes to drive to Coors Field. For Nieuwenhuis , it took seven years. The rookie played his first major league game in Denver last weekend, but he’s not exactly a stranger to Coors Field.
“We sit all over the place; we came to so many games,” Nieuwenhuis said.
All those games Nieuwenhuis watched came long before he was a rising baseball star. Back then he was a high school star in the class of 2005.
“We had some good teams in football, basketball and baseball; state championships and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun,” he said.
Those Denver Christian teams were more than just good. Nieuwenhuis played for them all — basketball for the legendary Dick Katte, and baseball of course. Neuwenheis’ hitting and pitching helped the Crusaders to the playoffs. While the diamond would be his ticket to the majors, it was football that produced Nieuwenhuis’ best highlight in high school.
“The Snow Game against Eaton; the championship,” he said.
Nieuwenhuis ran the ball during the Snow Game, leading the Crusaders to the state championship during his junior year.
“I remember after the game just being numb. My face was all purple and it was so cold, but it was so much fun.”
These days snow doesn’t factor into Nieuwenhuis’ highlights, but there have been plenty in his first months in the big league. His first home run came in just his third game, and on his mother’s 50th birthday, no less. A couple weeks later he got his first game-winning walk-off hit.
“I’ve had a lot of moments where I kind of look around and, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m here.’ But it’s been a blast,” he said. “Hopefully when it all dies down I can look back and remember it, but this is a dream come true.”
He said he wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I think that the bonds that you form with the close-knitted group of guys like that; you know that lasts forever.”