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Monday, June 9, 2014

Raisman a hit with Knights, fans

Tom King

Would baseball players make good gymnasts?

Maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps if they had tried gymnastics when they were younger, they’d turn out to be better ballplayers. ...

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Would baseball players make good gymnasts?

Maybe it’s the other way around. Perhaps if they had tried gymnastics when they were younger, they’d turn out to be better ballplayers.

“I think so,” Nashua Silver Knights manager Ted Currle said. “All the flexibility that comes with it, and coordination. I don’t think there’s anything where you need more body control than gymnastics. As an athlete, you need good body control in everything that you do.

“It can’t hurt, that’s for sure.”

But few ballplayers have done it, of course.When polling the Silver Knights players as to whether they ever did gymnastsics, the heads begin to shake.

Until you approach Cole Warren.

“Yeah I actually did,” Warren said, saying he took part in learning and practicing gymnastics from age 5 to age 8. “Then the other sports took over. But it was fantastic. That

s why I’m very good on the diving board and the trampoline. My sister was into it. I wanted to do it because she was doing it.”

Hey, whatever works. We can’t all be like Aly Raisman, right?

The Olympic gold medal gymnast, who made a promotional appearance Sunday at Holman Stadium, throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs, first began learning gymnastics at age 2. Her first competition?

“I was eight-years-old,” she said. “I don’t remember it that much. I was excited to compete, I think I was pretty nervous.”

But Raisman may have been just as nervous before the game about throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. She practiced on the first base side under the tutelage of a Silver Knight or two.

Let’s just say it’s safe to say she’s more comfortable on the balance beam or doing the floor exercise.

“It’s good for coordination,” she said. “You have to start young.”

Raisman said starting out she practiced 35 hours a week. Doubt Warren did that.

But it would be a great sport for baseball players. Silver Knights infielder Joe Napolitano never wanted to try it.

“Nope, just baseball,” he said. “I’m not that flexible. I’m terrible. It’s one of my weaknesses.”

Knights pitcher Tom Hudon never tried it as a young kid. But he wishes he had. He has a great appreciation for gymnasts.

“They’re much more athletic than we are,” Hudon said. “When I watch it, the stuff they do is just leaps and bounds above what we do here.

“Their core strength, their physical strength just blows us out of the water.”

But gymnasts work hard for it.

“It’s very, very challenging,” Raisman said. “There’s always something you need to work on, and it never gets boring.”

Raisman is 20, she will likely compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janero. But she’ll be 22 then.

“They flair out when they’re teenagers, not in their late 20s like baseball players,” Hudon said. “You do start young and it probably takes a toll on your body, that’s probably why.

“But those guys are in great shape. I’d love to do that. It is something you need to start at a young age. You just can’t pick that up.”

Ballplayers, gymnasts. Sports brethren, don’t you think?

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).