CHATHAM, NJ - There is little doubt that Andrew Bergman is enjoying himself when he's on the baseball field.
Check out the area around first base during a Chatham baseball game and that's where Bergman sets up shop, greeting anyone from the opposing team who reaches the bag, chatting with the opponent's first-base coach or the umpire.
"I'm always trying to have a good time," Bergman said. "Now, more than ever, I'm trying to have a positive outlook on things. I talk to people on first base, joke around a little bit. I was asking if any of the kids on their team play basketball. I'm trying to lighten up the mood a little bit."
Chatham's friendly goodwill ambassador, however, is serious when it comes to competition. In five games this spring, the 6-3 left-handed batter is off to a fast start with a .471 batting average, eight hits, eight RBI and six runs scored.
Andrew Bergman is the Hawk All-State Athlete of the Week.
"I just want to improve on my season over last year," he said. "I hit a lot of balls right at people last year. It's really satisfying when you're hitting the ball hard. My goal is to keep my average over .300."
Bergman got a late start to his baseball season last year because he was a key member of the Chatham boys basketball team that won the 2018 state sectional championship and advanced the Group 3 state final.
"Last year I missed two weeks of baseball by going to the Group 3 final at Rutgers," Bergman said. "Being able to start baseball earlier this year helped. The coaches put us through a tough preseason to get us ready. My swing has been really good."
The 16-year-old junior who won't turn 17 until August, also played on Chatham's state sectional finalist baseball team as a freshman in 2017. An injury to Peter DeMaria got Bergman the surprise call-up to the varsity in mid-April.
"I was playing in a JV game and during warmups, I was told they needed me to come play against Delbarton," Bergman said. "My first at-bat was against Hunter Waldis, who was throwing 88 to 90 miles per hour. That was unfortunate. Playing on the varsity as a freshman was fun. It was a good experience."
Bergman did help the Cougars reach the sectional final in 2017 by producing a key double against Rahway in the state tournament. This season, he's one of the guys expected again to fill the void left by DeMaria's departure for college.
"Coming into the year, having lost Pete, you knew somebody had to be that guy and he's done exactly what we've expected so far," Todd Leathers, Chatham baseball coach, said. "He started off hot. The power is going to come as we go through the season. He's squaring up the baseball and he's aggressive.
"He's Bergman. We've all seen him in basketball. He's a little different athlete. He's happy-go-lucky, nothing bothers him. He can go oh-for-five and it's always positive. Great kid to have around. I'll take 30 of him every year."
On Wednesday, Bergman had something else to talk about when he made his varsity pitching debut as a reliever against Hanover Park. He pitched well enough that Leathers is thinking about him as a lefty specialist.
"Baseball is one of those sports when you're playing well it's the best thing on earth and if you're not it can be a drag, a grind," Bergman said. "You can't get too high on the highs or too low on the lows. Just try to get better every day and stay consistent and try to hit the ball hard every at-bat.
"I'm not too worried about my stats. I just try to stay positive and lighten the mood whenever I can. Stay relaxed."
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.