DOWNEY – Nick Medrano has been a resident of Downey for 38 years and has been involved in professional baseball as a player, soft- and fast-pitch competitor, women's slow pitch coach, and currently as an umpire.
"I grew up in various cities such as Los Angeles, Huntington Park, Maywood and Bell, and began playing baseball at the advanced age of 13," he said. "Like a lot of boys, I wanted to become a major league player, especially for the Los Angeles Dodgers."
Medrano played both varsity football and baseball at Bell High School in the late 1960's.
"I was the only player in 1968 to be All Eastern League at Bell in both sports, but at 5 ft. 7 inches tall, 130 pounds, I was just too small to continue in football," Medrano explained.
He played centerfield at East Los Angeles College starting in 1969 and had two good seasons for the Huskies, setting a school record for stolen bases with 24 in 1970.
Medrano next played for the Pasadena Yankees, an elite semi-pro team in 1970-71.
"The summer league was primarily for college players and the winter league was for returning professionals after their leagues finished in September," Medrano remembers. "I played with major leagues Darrell Evans and Gary Jones, and against major leaguers Jeff Burroughs, Ed Crosby and Tony Muser."
Medrano had a productive season, hitting over .330. He did well enough that Medrano was confident he could make the jump to the major leagues.
Unfortunately, Medrano contracted hepatitis in early 1971 and was out of action for most of that year. He enrolled at Cal State Dominguez Hills in late 1971 to continue his baseball career.
"I had two outstanding seasons at Dominguez Hills in 1972 and 1973," he says. "In 1972, I was third in the nation in stolen bases with 33 and hit .296."
Gary Adama, who was UC Irvine coach at the time (he later coached at UCLA), said that Medrano was the college player he had seen all year.
Medrano set school records in 1973 in triples, hits, runs scored and stolen bases (48). He was drafted in June of 1973 in the 23rd round by the Chicago White Sox and the 155-lb. switch hitter reported to Appleton, Wis., in the Midwest League.
Medrano's average in 1973 was .293 with 17 stolen bases and in 1974 he hit .280 with 29 stolen bases.
Former triple A pitcher John McAllen of the San Diego Padres organization had this to say about Madrano: "If I didn't strike him out and he got on base, I knew he would probably steal second and third as he was just that fast."
Medrano played with future major leaguers Pete Vuckovich, Mike Squires, Jeff Holly, Nyls Nyman and Rich "Goose" Gossage among others at Appleton in 1973-74.
"I reported to Sarasota, Fla., for spring training in 1975 and played with the triple A and double A teams," said Medrano. "I did well in the spring games but near the end of spring training, I was given my release from the White Sox organization. I probably had a chance to hook on with another organization but I decided to retire."
Medrano returned to the Los Angeles area, later moving to Downey in 1978. He began playing slow pitch softball, fast pitch softball and 16-inch Chicago-style softball.
"I really enjoyed softball, especially fast pitch because it was closer to playing regular baseball," Medrano said. "I played approximately 10 years with the San Bernardino Stars and one year for the famed Lakewood Jets fast pitch team."
Medrano began coaching women's softball in 1979 and served one year as an assistant at Mayfair High School for the girls team.
Medrano retired as a women's coach in 2010 after 31 years of coaching but has continued as a USSSA softball umpire which began in 1979.
"I umpire men's and women's games in cities such as Las Vegas, San Diego, Perris, Palm Springs and Sacramento," he said. "In fact, I once umpired a co-ed game featuring former big leaguer Jose Canseco."
Medrano has four children and has found time to work for Federal Express in Fullerton for the past 26 years.
"I had a great deal of fun in softball and baseball as a player, coach and umpire. Looking back on my career, it appears that I was actually involved with sports sometimes seven days a week," he laughed.