Emerson Baseball player looks to revitalize his career and help elevate program


Courtesy of Alex Nissenberg

Sophomore Pitcher Alex Nissenberg is looking to make big strides this season.

By Aidan Crooke, Staff Writer, Sports

What started as a weekend gone awry in upstate New York has turned into a major comeback story—not only for sophomore pitcher Alex Nissenberg but also for the Emerson Lions baseball team as a whole.

Nissenberg, a right-hander from Teton Village, Wyoming, suffered a brutal skiing accident in the fall of 2021, causing him to miss out on his first season as a Lion in the process. Nissenberg, however, said that the accident was almost much worse than just a missed season.

“I caught an edge, my boot popped out, I was flung forward, and my stomach landed on a rock,” he said.

Nissenberg initially thought that he only had the wind knocked out of him. All of a sudden, he found himself in an ambulance “being pumped with fentanyl” before being airlifted for treatment.

“I remembered the first hour [at the Albany Medical Center],” he said. “And then I have no memory of the next three weeks.”

Nissenberg would spend those three weeks recovering from a litany of life-threatening injuries, including a Grade 5 liver laceration—which carries a near-fatal 97 percent mortality rate—a lost kidney, a lacerated spleen, and complications such as jaundice, hemorrhages, and internal bleeding. He lost 40 pounds throughout his stay in Albany.

“I wanted to get the f*** out of there,” he said.

It wasn’t just the physical injuries taking a toll on Nissenberg—it was the mental battle of attrition as well, he said. Nissenberg spent New Year’s Day alone in recovery and with a constant cycle of doctors showing up for diagnostics every two hours.

And while the Emerson baseball team was taking the field in Fall 2021, Nissenberg was working with a physical therapist, learning how to walk again.

“I worked my ass off to get into baseball shape and it clicked over winter break,” he said.

Coming back to the field this season, Nissenberg is trying to make his mark as a reliever. To this point, the jury’s still out—he’s accumulated an 18.40 ERA over 5.4 innings pitched. However, he also earned the save over Brandeis on March 26, managing to get out of a jam with a three-run lead and two runners on.

“My pitch speed is up,” he said. “I’m doing what I want to in the weight room—still am! I hit the point that was close to being back [where] I was before the ski accident, and since then, it’s been great to get out there and finally play.”

Nick Vennochi, the men’s baseball coach, said that Nissenberg’s recovery was “something to rally behind” on and off the field. Vennochi added that the team’s culture is “tight-knit” and that Nissenberg’s recovery has been “pretty remarkable.”

“[Alex coming back is] huge for us,” Vennochi said. “We need guys who are reliable to come out and throw strikes.”

Nissenberg, who hadn’t pitched a game since his senior year of high school before this season, said he was immensely grateful to those who had supported him through his struggle to get back to the diamond.

“I would not have been able to get back to where I am now if it weren’t for my doctors, family, friends, teammates, and coaches,” Nissenberg said. “Everyone who’s been around me since my accident happened has been huge in my mental, physical, and emotional recovery.”

As for his expectations, Nissenberg said he has nowhere to go but up.

“I feel like I’m competing and I’ve earned my playing time,” he said.

Nissenberg described his collegiate debut against Lesley as “adrenaline-filled” and “emotional” for his parents.

And for the team’s expectations?

“Quote me on this—the NEWMAC is not ready,” he said.