Every June, tradition necessitated that Nate Fury would make the short walk down the street to Mason Katz’s home in Harahan, where the duo would sit mesmerized in front of the television to watch the College World Series.
Several winding roads later, the pair of best friends since age 3 share the same diamond once again – just in time for Katz’s final shot at Omaha.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Katz said. “Having that opportunity to do it together would really be a dream come true.”
Growing up together in the small Jefferson Parish suburb, Katz and Fury became “like brothers,” playing on the same teams as they tore through little leagues and made their way to high school.
That’s where the pair would split, as Katz went to 5A powerhouse Jesuit and Fury to archrival Archbishop Rummel, creating some memorable matchups between the right-handed Fury on the mound and the power-hitting Katz.
“It got kind of fun,” Fury said. “It was sort of us competing against each other in a way. It was a fun little friendly competition.”
Even when Fury moved in with the Katz family while his home underwent renovations, the competitive fire still burned as the two would set out every morning in different directions with different allegiances.
Arguments were abound between the new roommates after meetings between the Blue Jays and Raiders on the diamond, although Katz claimed it was all null and void due to Jesuit’s dominance.
“Ehhh,” Fury rebutted. “[Rummel] pulled out a couple.”
After Fury’s first college baseball stop at Tulane didn’t pan out, he made the decision to fulfill his dream to don the purple and gold. Fury would first have to make a stop at Delgado Community College, where he played third base, pitched and even got to take his cuts at the plate.
That taste of offense may have gone to Fury’s head, according to Katz.
“If you still ask him to this day, he’ll tell you he’s better than anyone out here hitting,” Katz said. “He’s a funny kid like that.”
An ACL tear would end Fury’s Delgado career, as he transferred to LSU last year to rehab his knee and attend school, all the while meshing with last season’s Tiger squad.
Senior outfielder Raph Rhymes, who met Nate Fury through his older brother Matt Fury, quickly hit it off with the quirky pitcher, who he coincidentally compared to Matt and Nate’s current roommate and Rhymes’ former Tiger teammate.
“He’s kind of like a Grant Dozar,” Rhymes said. “A goofy guy in the locker room, which is good for the team. You have to have a guy like that.”
With a little help from his best friend, Fury’s rehab and work in the fall caught the eye of coach Paul Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn, who offered Fury a spot on the roster during his exit meeting on what Fury called the best day of his life.
Now living his dream, Fury has seamlessly entered the Tiger dynamic, with his stuff out of the bullpen and his outgoing personality.
“He’s that guy to keep your head up and keep you going,” Katz said. “He’s like a girl – he becomes everyone’s best friend. He’s best friends with everybody and hangs out with everybody.”
While both Mainieri and the team have their sights on a national title, Fury said he hopes to be an integral part of that stretch run and doesn’t pay much attention to the winding road that got him to Baton Rouge.
“Obviously, I’d like to get to play, and I’d like to be able to establish a role,” Fury said. “But the team goal is to go to Omaha and win a national championship. Anything I can do to help out will be worth it.”
Whether Fury is a player who can bring a moment of levity through the grind of the season or throw a few crucial innings out of the bullpen, Katz promised this season would be his best while alongside his best friend.
And for those who don’t think Fury is funny, Katz had a simple message.
“You can’t not laugh at him,” Katz said. “He’s that big of an idiot.”