Sports in Perspective

From AJC/AP: Saving son also saved Braves Nitkowski

C.J. Nitkowski was sitting in his living room watching TV two years ago when he heard a noise outside the sliding door. His son was in the middle of the pool, and slowly sinking.

“At 2 years old, it doesn’t take you very long to drown,” said Nitkowski, a reliever trying to make the Atlanta Braves’ roster.

The pitcher got to his son in time and pulled him out. After a few frantic moments, the boy was OK.

“We were very lucky,” Nitkowski said.

Matthew has no lasting effects from the ordeal. Not so the father. His life has thoroughly changed.

Hours before his son wandered into the pool, Nitkowski was released by the Houston Astros. He had been frustrated and angry, although not entirely surprised about being cut during spring training.

At first, he thought the sound he heard was his son playing in the kitchen sink. A few seconds later, when he heard it again, Nitkowski noticed the open door to the pool. He knew instantly he was hearing the water filter from the pool. He then found Matthew.

The timing was eerie. If he hadn’t been released that day, he wouldn’t have been home, since the Astros were playing a game.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. i almost drowned when i was that age too.. and i still remember it. every second of it. i’ll never let my daughter go near water without me.