Nick Esasky

Any more stories like this one? I hope not.

Okay, so today is depressing biographies day. Sorry, but they’re interesting. This one stems from the Atlanta-Colorado game tonight. Between the announcers’ seemingly inane comments, they made a comment about Joey Votto’s spells of dizziness and how it reminds them of Nick Esasky. I had no idea who he was, so here we go.

Born on February 24th, 1960, Nick Esasky was a fairly good baseball player in the mid to late 1980’s. As a defender, he wasn’t particularly good, but he could hit some. Esasky began his major-league career in 1983 with the Cincinnati Reds as a third baseman, but due to his defensive shortcomings, he was switched to the outfield and first base over the next few seasons. He hit well as a rookie with a .265/.328/.450 line and 112 OPS+, but he really struggled in 1984. Esasky bounced back with a strong 1985 campaign with 21 homers and a 118 OPS+. Over the next three seasons, he continued to be average to just above average, but he would only play in 100-110 games. Consequently, the Reds traded him to the Boston Red Sox in the off-season before the 1989 season. But in 1989 as a 29-year old, he made a big jump. He had a line of .277/.355/.500 with a 133 OPS+ and a career-high 30 home runs and 108 RBI’s while finishing 18th in the MVP voting.
Having six years of service, it was free-agency time for Esasky. During the 1989 off-season, teams stood in line to talk to the slugger. The Red Sox declared that they would offer him a very lucrative offer to stay, but Esasky wasn’t necessarily excited about staying if another intriguing offer came his way. When Ted Turner and the Atlanta Braves opened their wallets for a 3-year, $5.7 million contract, the Marietta native decided he couldn’t pass it up. But the happy reunion was not to be.

Esasky only played 9 games for the Braves and spent a lot of time on the disabled list. Why? Vertigo. By the end of Spring Training, Esasky began to feel weak and tired, but everyone figured it was the flu. After he laced two hits in his debut, it seemed he would be okay. Then, he struck out 14 times in 35 at-bats. Then, he committed 5 errors (a lot for even him). Objects and the world in which they existed began moving and appearing differently. Nine games later, he told Bobby Cox that there was a problem.

Over the next 6 months, he went to over 30 doctors and specialists, but few could offer him any explanations. After a while, he told the doctors to stop looking for the cause and just fix him. In July, a doctor told him he had Lyme Disease, but that didn’t make anything better. A month later, the Mayo Clinic tried and failed to find anything wrong. Upset and frustrated, Esasky just tried to deal with it. Fortunately, an answer came in October when Dr. Jeffrey Kramer diagnosed him with vertigo. However, the length of time that he had endured this had caused severe damage to his inner ear, and they had to retrain his body to improve coordination.

At the beginning of the 1991 season, there was optimism surrounding Esasky. He could catch a ball and was feeling better, but as is common with Spring Training stories, this one was still too good to be true. To his credit, Esasky continued to try to get things back together, but after another season and a half, the Braves released him. Oddly, teams seemed to have been interested in signing him even after he was released. Esasky continued to work, but ultimately, he could not make it back to the majors or minors. Here’s an interesting article about Esasky’s life during and after those years.

I just hope this isn’t Votto’s problem.

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