Christian Meza all but scoffs at the notion that he would have grown up playing something other than baseball. Fittingly, the San Diego, Calif., native often appears to be the player on the diamond having more fun than anyone else, even if that diamond is situated in the middle of Nebraska with temperatures below what he had gotten used to back home.
The way Meza puts it, baseball was unavoidable, but that’s not a complaint. His father Larry Meza made a big impression in this regard.
“Ever since I was born my dad put a baseball in my hand,” Christian said. “That’s pretty much it. He didn’t really give me another option. All I really knew was baseball ever since I was born.”
Now entering his senior season as a star second baseman for head coach Ryan Dupic, Meza is the heartbeat of the Concordia lineup. The Christian High School product batted .405 and landed first team All-GPAC accolades in his junior campaign. A year earlier, Meza helped lead the Bulldog baseball program to its first conference championship in more than 30 years. With another big season, he may even make a run at the school’s all-time hits record.
The statistics and the accolades aside, Meza is a valued member of the program for many reasons. He carries the type of confidence that rubs off on his teammates. Beyond that, Meza helped open the door for more Californians to play baseball at Concordia. When Dupic arrived in Seward, the roster did not contain a single player from The Golden State. The 2019 squad is 10 strong in Californians.
Says Dupic, “Christian is a very impactful player in our program. He has a high level of confidence in himself and is a tough competitor, and when he is at his best the others feed off of him and exhibit those characteristics as well. He knows exactly who he is and is an authentic guy. What you see is what you get and he’s comfortable in his own skin.”
Meza may have been born to play baseball, but Concordia did not enter his mind until late in his high school career. Dupic wanted to make inroads in California and developed a new contact who recommended Meza. Based on Meza’s preference for the mild weather offered by Southern California, Concordia probably wasn’t going to be the right choice. Or maybe not.
When Meza began dialogue with Dupic, what he heard was a breath of fresh air. Dupic was just getting started on trying to build a foundation for a program that had experienced plenty of lows in terms of wins and losses.
“Honestly it was pretty random,” Meza said. “I didn’t think about leaving California until the offers started to be shortened. Everything just clicked. Coach Dupic reached out. When I came on a visit it just felt different, especially with Coach Dupic. I just felt like he really cared about my career here. It felt genuine more than any other coach. That’s kind of how I ended up here.”
Meza brought the type of attitude Dupic wanted in order to shake up the culture within the dugout. Simply put, Meza is a winning player. He’s competitive on and off the field. He’s the type of player you want at the plate with the game on the line. He may not come up with the big hit in every one of those types of situations, but he will never be afraid of the moment.
Every team can use someone with Meza’s swagger. He also helps keep the mood light. In one instance last season, Meza put a sandwich on top of the head of a teammate during a postgame interview.
“I guess I was just born with it,” Meza said of his confident ways. “Anything I play – video games, board games – I’m trying to win. I’m trying to be the best. I really don’t know. My parents are kind of that way too. They always want to beat me in everything I do against them. It just kind of grew on me.”
Meza has a little added motivation knowing that even though they are more than 1,500 miles apart, somewhere Meza’s little brother Robbie is watching online, perhaps even trying emulate big brother. The distance from his little brother is something Meza mentions as the toughest thing about being away from home. Says Meza, “He’s playing baseball as well. That kind of kills me not being able to see him grow up. He and his friends are always watching the games. That drives me for sure.”
Robbie should be proud of what Christian has become. He’s so reliable that Dupic can relax and state simply, “Meza is Meza.” There’s a comfort for Dupic in knowing he can ink Meza’s name in at second base and near the top of the lineup every game. He knows what he’s going to get. Bad at bats are rare for Meza, who has struck out only 52 times in 459 career at bats.
For Meza, the approach is simple: try not to think too much. He’s not one to walk a lot, but it works for someone so adept at putting the bat on the ball. His 2018 season looks even more impressive when you consider how rough the weather was last spring.
“I don’t really have an approach,” Meza said. “I go up there just trying to have fun and be relaxed. I just swing the bat whenever the ball is in the strike zone. I really don’t have much of a plan to it. A lot of people overthink things so I just try to make it as easy as possible.”
When he’s done striking baseballs at Concordia, Meza seems to think the pull of home will reel him back in. He still doesn’t like the cold weather, but Meza has developed an affinity for Nebraska Raising Cane’s restaurants.
Whatever comes after graduation is not foremost on his mind. Meza doesn’t have to look far into the future to see the start of his senior baseball season. That thought makes him feel warmer, even on a January day in Nebraska.
Says Meza, “I’m excited to step out there for the last time. I just want to end with a bang. That’s pretty much it.”