The meeting that saved Nick Wittgren's baseball career

Baseball stops at McCutcheon, Parkland College, Purdue and now the MLB may never have been possible for Nick Wittgren, without Jake Burton's persistence with the current Cleveland Indian's reliever.

Posted: May 13, 2020 7:10 PM
Updated: May 13, 2020 7:13 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Nick Wittgren's baseball career almost never took off.

As the Lafayette native reflected on his baseball journey that's lead him to the Cleveland Indian's pitching staff, he pinpointed one moment that saved his playing career. 

"If this did not happen, then my life would not be where it's at right now," said Wittgren. 

The moment was a meeting with his high school head baseball coach Jake Burton. Wittgren nearly quit the sport his senior year to pursue a college basketball career. Burton then pulled Wittgren into his school office to discuss that decision. 

"He convinced me, like hey, look, you know you got something special, you can do something with it, just don't waste it," said Wittgren. 

Wittgren didn't waste it. The former Maverick played his senior season with McCutcheon, then went on to pitch at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. His next stop was back home again. Doug Schreiber envisioned a spot for Wittgren in Purdue's bullpen. That's when his career really took off. 

A summer spent in the Cape Cod League boosted Wittgren's draft stock. Before that opportunity, Wittgren had his mind on graduation and the work force. Fast forward to the 2012 Major League Baseball draft, and the Miami Marlins selected Wittgren in the 9th round. 

Wittgren enjoyed his best Major League season in 2019 after being traded to the Indians before the season started. He recorded a 2.81 Earned Run Average in 55 appearances, including four saves.

While sports all over the world have been put on hold, Wittgren is cherishing the opportunity to be at home with his wife, and one-year-old son Jackson. 

"It's one of the good things that came about this," said Wittgren. "I get to spend a lot more time with my wife and my son, and actually get to be there with them every single day for the whole day."

As Wittgren prepares for whatever comes next in his baseball life, he's enjoying the simple things from his Florida home. Baseball has taken Wittgren from Lafayette's south side, all the way to Progessive Field in Cleveland. It's a path that might of never been traveled, if it weren't for Jake Burton. 

"I tell everyone, if it wasn't for Jake I honestly would literally not be here right now."

West Lafayette
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 81°
Kokomo
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Rensselaer
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Fowler
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Williamsport
Partly Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 79°
Crawfordsville
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 80°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 80°
Delphi
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Monticello
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Logansport
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Sunny and warmer today but a chance of rain for Friday
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 777417

Reported Deaths: 14039
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1068671818
Lake573071031
Allen43592701
Hamilton37697427
St. Joseph37547568
Elkhart29916472
Tippecanoe23779232
Vanderburgh23714405
Porter19712327
Johnson19067395
Hendricks18320323
Clark13789199
Madison13751350
Vigo12980256
Monroe12717180
LaPorte12655225
Delaware11240198
Howard10874237
Kosciusko9860124
Hancock8896151
Bartholomew8361157
Warrick8257157
Floyd8161183
Grant7478181
Boone7317105
Wayne7281201
Morgan7004143
Marshall6381117
Dubois6346118
Cass6136112
Noble608391
Dearborn607878
Henry6015111
Jackson522077
Shelby518498
Lawrence5046129
Gibson473797
Montgomery465592
Clinton464356
DeKalb463985
Harrison460177
Huntington431582
Whitley422545
Steuben415961
Miami412673
Jasper404657
Knox398391
Putnam390262
Wabash374284
Adams360356
Ripley355571
Jefferson354587
White342654
Daviess3119101
Wells306681
Greene299485
Decatur294793
Posey289635
Fayette288164
Scott287658
LaGrange279173
Clay278649
Washington258138
Randolph248784
Jennings245049
Spencer241531
Fountain239350
Starke232159
Owen227359
Sullivan225143
Fulton211146
Jay204332
Carroll201023
Orange194956
Perry194939
Vermillion183944
Rush179427
Tipton174748
Franklin174535
Parke159116
Pike143934
Blackford139032
Pulaski125148
Newton124337
Benton111215
Crawford106817
Brown106743
Martin92715
Warren89115
Switzerland8658
Union73910
Ohio59011
Unassigned0429

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events