Pitcher James Newman adjusts to new school, team


My'Kayla Moore

Senior James Newman finds comfort in pitching while adapting to the new environment.

Just before the game is scheduled to start, he walks out of the dugout and onto the field. He walks past home plate until his dusty cleats are at the base of the pitcher’s mound. He reaches down and places a cross in the dirt. His parents are anxiously waiting on the bleachers, ready to cheer him on like they always do.

Senior James Newman calls this his “pregame ritual,” something he does before every single game.

Newman does believe in God, but he wouldn’t call himself a really religious person. He puts the cross on the mound to feel closer to God while he’s on the field.

Another way he prepares for a game is by listening to country music. “I don’t have a go-to song,” he said. “I’ll just listen to whatever is streaming on Pandora.” He also spends his warm-up time thinking about the advice his coaches gave him. Hit the ball hard and pound the zone.

He transferred from Lincoln High School right after the end of the first quarter. He already knew he wanted to play baseball for whatever school he attended next. He describes balancing baseball and school work as much easier than expected. Despite it being the first year he has played with this team, he already speaks highly of his teammates and coaches.

“The team and I are really close,” he said. “My coaches are great. They’re always there for me when I need extra help with something.”

A towering figure, he begins to tell the story of his nickname “big country baseball.” The nickname that he wears with pride was given to him three years ago. He said that it just stuck with him. The baseball part has been added on since attending Stagg ,where there is already a football player with the same nickname.

He recalls the feelings he felt while playing his first game as a Delta King.

“I was really nervous being out there under the lights,” Newman said. “I remember I just kept thinking about striking (each batter) out.”

Although he lost that game, “I didn’t leave the game really upset,” he said. “Instead I was thinking about how much fun I just had.”

Newman has also played with a travel ball team and recreationally with his family.

“My dad taught me when I was really young,” he said. Even when he had just started playing, Newman knew he wanted to play with a real team someday. He also hopes to continue playing for Los Medanos Junior College, the college he plans to attend next year.

He has never been seriously injured due to playing baseball. He did, however, roll his ankle five years ago during a game of travel ball. This mild injury didn’t change his opinion of baseball.

“Always listen to your coaches,” he said. “They’re there to help you and give you good tips.” That is the advice he would offer to someone new to baseball.

Newman has been close with teammate Matthew Castillo, a senior, since they played tee-ball together in sixth grade.

“He’s one of the best players I know,” Castillo said. “He puts a lot of dedication into everything he does.”

Ultimately Newman always hopes to feel nervous when he’s out on the field.

“I once heard that if you’re not nervous out on the field, it’s just a job. Having nerves makes it more than that.”