Nick Hill may never make the major leagues, but he’s already getting a fair amount of media exposure.
A 2007 West Point graduate pitching in the Seattle Mariners farm system, he has been interviewed frequently during the last two years, as his future with the baseball and military became clear.
Hill, of course, is one of several officer-athletes who were caught in the middle when the Army decided in July 2008 to drop its Alternative Service Options program, a plan launched in 2005 to allow West Point and ROTC graduates with professional sports contracts to play immediately after graduation.
The policy said that individuals likely to “provide the Army with significant favorable media exposure” could be assigned to recruiting units near their teams and serve a shortened two-year commitment — all while working around the team’s schedule. Hill signed on for the program, but was put back on active duty when the Army reversed part of the policy, allowing athletes to leave the service early, but only after serving two years on active duty.
According to a new article in the Seattle Times, it appears Hill has fulfilled his service, using banked leave to complete his time in the Army. He’s now pitching with the Peoria Saguaros, an Arizona Fall League team, and figures into the Mariners’ long-term plans as a left-handed Class AA relief pitcher.
From the article:
Hill is now on the Army’s inactive reserves list and must report in every six months. He also has to return about $100,000 of prorated tuition to West Point for the three years he didn’t serve, and the Mariners are leaning toward paying it.
The Army’s policy toward its pro athletes program states there’s “a strong expectation they will provide the Army with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national recruiting or public-affairs efforts.”
That’s a responsibility Hill takes very seriously.
“I’ve been thankful that I’ve had a lot of people pulling for me, working for me to get me this opportunity,” he said. “Hopefully, I can make something of it. Hopefully, I’ll get to the big leagues and have that light shed on the Army doing good things and show that this program has a lot of benefits, lots of positives.”
That’s a pretty humble attitude — which seems imminently appropriate, given the alternative.