On his last day Nick had to have heard the unmistakable music of his preferred workplace as baseballs thwacked into mitts and a sort of anvil chorus of bats striking balls rang from the sun soaked cages near the path he walked at the Red Sox training complex.
I'm hoping the next sound he heard was that of his old friend Lou Gorman greeting him as affably as only Lou could, "Nicholas, Nicholas" and that there was a chair waiting for him at a table where Clark Booth, Ray Fitzgerald, George Sullivan, Tim Horgan, Mike Madden, Jake Liston, and Frank Deford among many others waited to introduce him to colleagues such as Tim Murnane, Dick Young, Jerry Nason, and Harold Kaese.
Nick had one of the quintessential Boston jobs as chief baseball beat reporter for New England's paper of record. Sort of like being the best pastry chef in Paris, the chief opera critic at La Scala in Milan, or the meteorologist at the Mt Washington observatory. In other words being both the best in the business in a place where it matters the most and an indispensable source of information, enlightenment, and sustenance for a large and discerning audience.
In what other community would the passing of a beloved baseball writer be noted by the governor, mayor, and a host of other dignitaries , all of whom surely had read his feature on Steven Pearce that morning. Red Sox manager Alex Cora also noted his passing in his typically eloquent heartfelt manner both before and after yesterday's spring training opener.
I considered him both a personal friend and friend of The Sports Museum as he never failed to promote our annual Tradition Gala as well as our central role in the time honored Boston Baseball Writers Banquet.
As has been noted by many of his writer friends his Sunday notes column was both a valued source of information as well as a bulletin board where credit was given where deserved and, more often than not, we'd learn of the game's oft overlooked supporting cast and the valuable work they performed.
I'm hoping there is a last notes column tomorrow.
I just saw him last month at the writer's dinner where he looked and sounded great and was so looking forward to heading south for training camp.
Nick was a good man. Life is short. Enjoy every inning.