Nate the Builder


I just dropped Nate off at his job. Yeah, that’s right, his job. For weeks now Nate has been working on a house renovation project. He’s having a great time; his HGTV shows have come to life and he’s right in the middle of it. He has obsessed about house renovations and rehab projects ever since he was a little boy. We always thought if he were to work he’d work in the housing world and be very happy doing it.

A friend of ours who designs houses bought two homes right on the Cooperstown border and she’s gutting them. Knowing that Nate had a strong interest in such things, she asked him if he’d like to help. Of course he did. Now, several days each week he gets dropped off for work. He’s working for free, an intern really, learning the ropes of construction and being part of a team.

Everything seems to be going well. That boy is a hard worker and when he gets home he’s filled with stories of his day, how he helped put in a new window, how he helped pull floorboards up, and so on. I picked him up one day and he smelled of fresh wood shavings.

Getting him to be ready has been relatively easy. Nate and I went to Wal-Mart and he picked out strong work boots, a menacing pair of black shoes with a thick sole and composite toe (he was not interested in the steel toed selection. Once he decides, he’s decided). Today he put them on for the first time.

As he dawdled tying his shoes while changing the channels to check his shows, I explained to Nate that a good worker arrives on time. Fortunately, we live in Cooperstown so everything is minutes away. Finally he was done, his work jacket on, ready to leave.

“You look like a man,” Karen told him.

And he did. There was a sense of transformation. Nate, set for a day on the job, looked as serious and adult as Nate gets. Sure, he had a few of his cartoon themed documents in hand, and his iPad, but he still looked like a legitimate working man.

I got him to the job site a few minutes late. Once there, Nate wanted to check out the big house first.

“Are you supposed to report to the little house?” I asked.

“Alright, alright!” he replied, knowing I was right. And, to my surprise, without a complaint he got out of the car and walked to the smaller house, opened the screen door, and entered.

That’s it. He’s got his stuff, his phone and Karen will bring him lunch later. He’ll call when he’s ready to get picked up. It’s pretty cool – Nate Katz, living his dream.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to Nate the Builder

  1. Linda Metzger says:

    What great news. I would love to see a photo of the MAN.
    Love, Linda

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