Last month, the Braves announced they were hiring former MLB pitcher, C.J. Nitkowski to take over for Jeff Francoeur as the primary analyst. Francoeur, who took the reigns as the primary analyst in 2019, cited the desire to spend more time with his family as the reason for him cutting back on his game.
Long time Braves fans likely recognize Nitkoswki's name for his stint with the Braves in 2004, where he appeared in 22 games and had a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings.
Other fans might recognize his face, but not know where they know it from. After all, if you didn't watch baseball during his playing career (his last appearance in the bigs was in 2005) and didn't watch the Texas Rangers' broadcast feed, you might be confused about where you know his face from.
But if you've ever seen the 2013 Film "42", you've seen C.J. Nitkowski on the mound.
In the scene where the Phillies Manager, Ben Chapman (played by Alan Tudyk) is verbally assaulting Jackie, C.J. Nitkowski is the pitcher who allows Jackie to reach on a single, steal, and score the go-ahead run.
(warning: strong racist language in the clip below)
For a non-actor, this is some serious screen time. Nitkowski explained in his blog that he had been in auditions at the same time he was still trying to come back with the Mets in 2012, but wasn't able to read for lines. Once he realized the Mets weren't going to work out, he reached back out to the casting director.
"A couple of weeks later when I started to realize the Mets deal was probably not going to happen and my schedule was going to free up I inquired about the possibility of me being an extra background player in the movie. They hadn’t had the interviews or tryouts yet. Rose [the casting agent] told me to come down."- C.J. Nitkowski
He was able to get an audition, nailed the read, and immediately got a callback. A few days after his second audition, he got the part of Dutch Leonard, even though Leonard was a righty and Nitkowski's a lefty.
Surprisingly, "42" isn't Nitkowski's only acting credit. Four years later, the former MLB reliever got a role as a script and technical consultant on the 2016 TV series, "Pitch". During the series, he also frequently appears as himself on TVs that play throughout the series, providing context for what's happening in the world of the Padres.
Here's a quick clip of his acting on the tv show.
It's a pretty impressive resumé for the new Braves analyst. We look forward to hearing his takes on this fun Braves team next season.