Twenty-five games into his senior season, first baseman Nate Palace has his fingers crossed that this isn’t the last year of his baseball career.
“I’m giving it my best shot,” Palace said. “But whatever God’s will is, I’ll take it.”
After slashing a .329 batting average and ripping seven homers and 39 RBIs as a sophomore, Palace started attracting the attention of major league scouts. He followed up his sophomore campaign with an All-Horizon League selection at first base. Now, he’s hitting .318 and already has six home runs, trying to show scouts what he’s capable of all the while helping his team win.
Palace began playing the game he loves at the age of 4 with the common dream many young boys have: to be a Major League Baseball player. Somewhere along the way the California native found another love: music.
“My parents always wanted me to play an instrument, so they started me with piano I believe,” Palace said. “But it didn’t click with me yet. But it was kind of funny at age 11 or 12 I got into “Guitar Hero,” and I got really good at that. I (liked) the guitar so much that from “Guitar Hero” I made the transfer to real guitar. And then from that, I just took off on real guitar because it coordinated my fingers for all the strumming and whatnot. From that point on, I’ve been obsessed with guitar.”
Since, Palace has tried just about everything on guitar, ranging from classic rock covers to contemporary worship music. He’s written some of his own songs and he loves turning piano-style tunes into guitar riffs. Without any help, Palace can listen to a pop song and convert it into a rock cover.
“A lot of the time it’s a nice piano cover that I like to transfer over to guitar,” he said. “Believe it or not, I actually do a lot of Adele music.”
In high school, he and one of his teammates played duets in local coffeehouses, and as an underclassmen at Valpo, he wowed his teammates when he showcased his skills in the team’s talent show.
“It was so surprising to hear him play at first, honestly,” former teammate Dan Delaney said. “But it was just so smooth and effortless. He never really talks about guitar, and yet he could easily play with the best of them. Whenever I heard him play, I could only listen, I couldn’t really focus on anything else.”
Swamped with baseball, classes and homework, playing the guitar and writing his own music can be very freeing for Palace.
“In the really stressful times, I play without thinking and usually some good progressions come out,” he said. “Guitar kind of frees my mind up a little bit.”
The multi-faceted Palace says the basic principles picked up from learning guitar can also be applicable to the fundamentals of baseball.
“Well, at first you’re not that good,” Palace said. “It’s kind of the same thing in baseball because you need to start somewhere...I have a bit of a perfectionist mentality where if (I’m bad) at something, then I’m going to work my butt off to be good at it.”
While Palace doesn’t yet know if this will be his last season on the diamond, he does know that this won’t be his last year playing guitar.
“I’m someone that’s really going to work hard,” he said. “Playing baseball is what I want to do, and I’m a perfectionist. But whatever happens happens, and I’m open to whatever God’s plan is for me.”