American baseball fans probably won't know who Alexander Nizov is, but they will see his jersey when they visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nizov donated his Russian Olympic team jersey to the Cooperstown museum Tuesday, but not before wearing it one more time in Monday's exhibition game against the Saratoga Phillies at East Side Recreation Field.
For me, it's maybe a surprise, said Nizov in hesitating English following the Phillies 10-4 victory. "It's a big honor for me to be in with Babe Ruth and the other great players. Hopefully, this gesture will stimulate Russians to play baseball."
Russian Olympic team manager Dmitri Shlyapnikov said, "That player was in the Europe championships many times, and he was the MVP once. He is not really ready to be near the stars of baseball, but he's played a long, long time, and he's played well."
Nizov showcased the skills that helped him become one of the first Russians to play in the American minor leagues. The former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farmhand led off the game with a sharp single that he turned into a double with some hustle. He then moved to third on an error and scored on a wild pitch to give the Russians a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn't last long, though. Some early wildness from starting pitcher Artur Donetskiy led to three Saratoga runs in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Donnie Webb walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Bryan Rose's one-out single to tie the game. After getting another out, Donetskiy walked two consecutive batters to load the bases. Shlyapnikov replaced Donetskiy with Vladimir Petrov, and Ryan Powers greeted the new Russian pitcher with a two-run single to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
Petrov allowed a run in the second inning before settling down and pitching three shutout innings, but the wheels came off for Russia in the bottom of the sixth. Webb drove in two runs with a single, Rose contributed a two-run double and Powers added an RBI single to help the Phillies extend their lead to 10-1.