They both require unrelenting practice.
They both demand a degree of focus and performance.
And the players cannot shun the spotlight.
But baseball and music are more dissimilar than they are alike.
For Lucas Gienow, the difference may lie in turning the verb ‘pitch’ into a noun.
Once an accomplished pitcher and first baseman for the Northern Lebanon high school and Fredericksburg legion baseball programs, Gienow is now an aspiriing musician. There was a time about a decade ago when Gienow was forced to choose between his two passions, and while his decision was a difficult one, it has become apparent that it was absolutely the right one.
“I can certainly relate the two to what I’m doing now,” said Gienow, a 2012 graduate of Northern Lebanon. “When you’re a pitcher, you practice your mechanics – arm angle, steps, where to land – over and over. Then when you get on the mound on game day, you’ve got to leave it all go. Performing music is a lot of the same things. It’s all practice.
“When you get up on stage, you can get lost in the moment,” continued Gienow. “It’s preparation to the point of muscle memory. When you don’t have to think about it, that’s when you’re doing it the best.”
In addition, Gienow is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College, where he earned a degree in vocal. He writes songs, and plays the guitar, piano, bass and drums.
Gienow is also a freelance recording engineer, but a musician first. He is a member of the local alternative pop band ‘Nearly York’, which just recently released its first album.
From a musical standpoint, Gienow seems to have all of his bases covered.
“I identify as a musician, who has the ability to record,” said Gienow. “I interned as a recording engineer, but I realized I didn’t have what it takes to be really good at it. It’s like choosing between music and baseball. I can record things, but I’ve chosen to be a musician.
“The most rewarding moment for me comes when I write something that’s meaningful to me and it’s also meaningful to someone else,” Gienow continued. “I like being in the spotlight. I was a pitcher in baseball. I like being ‘The Guy’. I enjoy seeing people respond to something I wrote. I’m always trying to find what that something is. An audience that connects with your music can put you on a stadium tour. Finding an audience that connects with you is sort of your ticket, but then you kind of owe your audience.”
Gienow grew up with a love of sports and music in his heart.
In addition to playing on the Vikings’ baseball team, he also competed in soccer and enjoyed snowbarding in the winter. At the same time, he was also active singing in the high school chorus and in his church choir.
“I was always a big sports fan,” said Gienow. “And music has always been in my family. I’ve always been around it. In my sophomore year, I went to my first concert, the Dave Matthews Band. Going to that concert, I realized there wasn’t anything else I wanted to be doing. I made the difficult decision to give up baseball, because to be really good at music I knew I had to concetrate on it.
“When I first started, I was writing a lot,” added Gienow. “I’d play for my dad every night, sort of the idea of the day, and that’s one of my strongest memories of growing up. If there’s one thing I could go back and do again it would be to take 30 minutes out of every day and practice the guitar.”
Gienow’s highly-competitive nature developed playing baseball at Northern Lebanon now serves him well in the world of music. He is fully aware of the competitive nature of the music business, and that fewer musicians ‘make it’ than don’t.
“Lucas the baseball player was a pitcher,” said Gienow. “A junk-baller. I could get on a mound and be tall and lanky. I was a little wild at times. But I like to think I was hard to hit. I was naturally good. But when everyone else started practicing, they sort of passed me.
“Of everything I miss, I miss baseball the most,” Gienow. “I think about it all the time. It was three hours of the day that would just disappear. I remember how my glove smelled. I still get the taste of sunflower seeds in my mouth.”
Over the past two years, Gienow has written between 200 and 400 songs. For him, song-writing is a process, one which draws from inspiration that originates through life experiences.
“I once saw where (song writer) Ed Sheeran said that song writing is kind of like rusty water in a facet,” said Gienow. ‘You’ve got to run a lot of water until it gets clear. It’s a lot of repetition. Our band has a certain genre we play and we have to maintain who we are. But I like other genres. If I’m writing, I’m always looking for better band ideas.
“A lot of people I know write lyrics and build a song around them,” continued Gienow. “For me, I’m kind of a melody guy. I’ll be playing around with a guitar or a piano and I’ll come up with a melody progression. I kind of write backwards. Whatever comes out with the melody. I try to find a good melody first and write good lyrics from that.”
Currently, Gienow performs on his own at select local venues. While ‘Nearly York’ is based out of Tellus 360 in Lancaster, it has also played gigs in places like Newmanstown, Lititz, Harrisburg, Scranton, the Poconos, New Jersey, Maryland and Charolette, North Carolina.
“The band’s goal is to be full-time in the next two years,” said Gienow. “We have some gigs booked in the summer and we’re going to be booking like crazy in the fall. The band is going to have to succeed, but the song-writing is never going to go away. The goal is to continue to write better songs, and hopefully, some day, you’ll be hearing one of those songs on the radio.
“The hardest part for me is when I come out with something I like, and it doesn’t do what I’d like it to do,” concluded Gienow. “The response is: ‘It’s OK.’ I’d rather have people say they hate it, because at least that way it’s illicted some passion. But it’s part of the learning process. Sometimes when you tell people around here that you want to be a musician, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ It takes a long time for everyone. But I feel like it’s the reason that some people quit.”
To view ‘Nearly York’s’ music video ‘Everything’ click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KQTVfZilRU .