After a year of waiting due to a spinal cord injury, Chad Martin ’16 began his Bowdoin baseball career in Florida with three hits in his first four at bats. Thirteen team games later, he’s barely slowed down, maintaining a .448 batting average and leading the NESCAC in hits. He is also second in RBIs and has claimed more bases than anyone else in the conference. He got on base five times in 12 at-bats in the Trinity series and recorded an RBI or a run scored in each of the three games.

On March 25, Martin was named the NESCAC Player of the Week for his terrific stretch in Florida. Martin had an impressive 21 hits in 12 games while accumulating a monstrous .717 slugging percentage.

The now 6’4” student played a number of sports throughout his childhood and also played football throughout high school. Baseball was always his first love. His grandfather Angelo Dagres, who played for the Baltimore Orioles, made sure of that. Martin calls Dagres his inspiration and remembers how his grandfather attended every practice for every sport he ever played. He attended the Trinity series last week as well.

Martin believes his grandfather would have followed him to California if he had decided to attend college there, but Dagres—a Massachusetts native—does not need to travel far to see most NESCAC games.

Martin played some AAU ball on a few teams coached by his grandfather, and the resulting exposure helped him enter The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, Mass. for high school. Martin considers his junior year at Governor’s his breakout year. He also began playing at showcases and talking with schools from all three divisions. The sought-after recruit seemed settled on Holy Cross (which is D-I) until a last-minute change of heart placed him on the Bowdoin campus.

Unfortunately, Martin did not see any playing time on the diamond in his first year as a Polar Bear. An L5 stress fracture in his spine took longer to heal than the projected three-month recovery time, holding him on the bench for eight months—Bowdoin’s entire season.

“My doctor told me it would be fine to play, but I got in the batting cage and my back still hurt,” Martin said. “They told me they guessed it wasn’t healed quite yet.” The stress fracture required Martin to wear a back brace at all times.

Martin remained close to the team despite the brace and spent most of the time he would have spent on baseball training instead on physical therapy.

“It was hard,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to come to Bowdoin and play baseball, so it was tough going down to Florida and seeing everyone else being able to play.”

The eight-month hiatus ended in time for Martin to participate in fall ball. He acknowledged having some difficulty getting back to his pre-injury form, both physically and mentally, despite some summer preparation with his grandfather. Still, during this year’s Florida trip, Martin showed up eager to hit but found the field crowded.

Talented junior Sam Canales was locked in at third base and Martin saw the field only as a stopgap when senior outfielder John Lefeber had to sit out for a week due to a minor injury of his own. 

Instead, Martin has filled the role of designated hitter, though he is always looking for opportunities to get back onto the field, or at least the infield.

“I hadn’t played outfielder in my entire life,” he laughed. “I’d be the first to admit I’m not a solid outfielder.”

He has noted the difficulty involved with getting excited for an at-bat only to return to the bench for an extended period when it concludes. Martin also believes that his opening game performance in Florida reignited his confidence, and that his post-injury adjustments have actually made him a better baseball player.

“Before the injury, my work ethic was not as strong as it was after the injury,” he said. “It became my goal to get back to where I was [before,] and then to exceed that.”

Already one of Bowdoin’s most valuable players, Martin’s continued growth could put Bowdoin in a great position for a postseason run.

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.