Rick’s Sports Corner: Nate Chapman, Small In Stature, Big In Talent

The graduating senior left everything on the field for the Bears and will attend and play baseball at NCAA Division III Pacific University Oregon.

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By Rick Assad

One of the beautiful things about baseball is that height and weight matter less than with football and basketball.

Take the case of Nate Chapman, the recently graduated Burroughs High slick-fielding second baseman.

Undersized at 5-feet, 5-inches and weighing 150 pounds, Chapman, who will attend NCAA Division III Pacific University Oregon, and major in business and play baseball, excelled as a four-year starter, batting around .390 overall and stealing more than fifty bases across his junior and senior seasons.

Chapman, the Bears’ leadoff hitter, was asked to play shortstop late in the season and delivered excellence after an injury to Logan Drossin, was named Burroughs Most Valuable Player as a senior, Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore.

That’s a lot of hardware, but it’s also well earned.

Like another smallish but powerful big league second baseman, Houston’s Jose Altuve, Chapman doesn’t take anything for granted on the diamond, and plays with purpose.

“I think that playing hard started when I was little and playing wiffle ball against my brother [Andrew] in the backyard. He is two years older, so I had to play harder than him to win,” he said after helping the Bears carve out a 19-7 overall record, 11-3 for third in the Pacific League and a Division IV opening round game this season versus visiting Ontario Christian, losing 8-0. “I’ve always been undersized since I started playing and I’ve never let that bother me. I’ve always had to prove myself every place I played.”

Knowing every situation and what was the correct choice made Chapman, who was named All-League first team the last two seasons, All-CIF second team as a sophomore and All-League second team, stand out.

Nate Chapman on Senior Night with his family that included father Mike, mother Celia and brother Andrew, whom he played with two years at Burroughs. (Photo by Rick Assad)

“Staying focused and being confident always kept me in the game mentally. I’ve always wanted the ball hit to me or wanted the bat in my hands when the game is on the line,” he said. “My dad [Mike] always told me that there’s only two things you can control in this game, “your attitude and effort.” The rest is out of my hands, so I’m always 100 percent in the game.”

Two important people were always in Chapman’s corner.

“I never listened to the crowd or what they had to say. Some schools and their parents talk more than others, but you can’t let what they say bug you. It’s part of the game,” he said. “What I did listen for was my mom [Celia]. She’s my biggest fan and would always cheer me on and give me a thumbs up with a smile when I did something. My parents were at every game.”

Whatever was needed at the plate like laying down a sacrifice bunt or hitting behind the runner, Chapman, who was given the Presidential Education Award for having a 4.0 grade-point average, excelled.

“I don’t know what my best asset is. I just go with always being myself and playing hard,” he admitted. “I hold myself to a high standard and always try to be a student of the game. Good attitude and 100 percent effort every day on the field.”

One could argue the 2022 baseball season was truly unforgettable after finishing 23-11 and 11-3 in league. The campaign included a seven-game winning streak, a five-game winning skein and a four-game winning streak.

Second baseman Nate Chapman (left) and third baseman Andrew Chapman were a dynamic duo and keys to the Bears winning the CIF Division V championship in 2022. (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

“The 2022 season was something I’ll never forget. We had guys all over the field that contributed to winning. Great pitching. Great defense. Great chemistry, and a team-first attitude is what carried us,” Chapman said. “We played hard every day and would always pick each other up. We had no selfish players that just played for themselves. The team came together early, and we kept getting better all year then caught fire leading up to the playoffs.”

The pinnacle came on a Friday afternoon in May when the CIF Southern Section Division V champion was crowned.

“The games that will always stand out to me were during our CIF run. Those were fun games. Making it even more memorable was doing it with my brother playing across from me in the infield. I’ll never forget the CIF Championship game against Moreno Valley,” Chapman said of the 1-0 victory with Gunnar Nichols working a complete game on the mound. “Playing at Cal State Fullerton [Goodwin Field] with a lot of people in the stands was an amazing experience. When my brother fielded that ground ball and made the last out it was wild. Being able to celebrate like that was awesome.”

Nate’s older brother helped in his younger siblings’ baseball development.

“Playing with Andrew was something I’ll never forget. He was an amazing player and leader on our team,” he said. “Being a freshman on varsity can be intimidating but having him out there relaxed me. We joked around in the dugout all the time and his nonchalant attitude.”

Matt Magallon, the Burroughs coach, agrees with Nate and feels that Andrew played a key role in his younger brother’s baseball acumen.

“I truly feel Nate is the player he is because of two reasons. One is that he has a drive that you can’t teach,” he offered. “He loves the game and grinds every day to be the best player he can be. The second reason is because his older brother Andrew, who is one of the best leaders I have ever been around or coached, was pushing him every day to be the best player possible the two years they were playing together.”

Chapman’s prep career is over and new memories are going to be made, but the fun and joy will never be the same after helping the Bears finish 66-42 overall for a .611 winning percentage and 38-18 in league for a .678 winning percentage and making the playoffs every season.

“I’m going to have so many memories from my time at Burroughs. Being able to play two years with my brother, the CIF championship run, the friends I’ve made here, my parents at every game, the fun games, and the Burbank rivalry games,” he said. “I’m going to miss hanging out with my friends every day at practice. A lot of us have known each other since elementary and middle school. I know we’re all going to keep in touch.”

When they do, they’ll have a lot to reminisce and talk about.