By Alex Ewalt
When her son took an interest in baseball at an early age, Nina Cramer knew she couldn’t simply watch his games from the bleachers.
She preferred to be on the field, wearing the team uniform. Currently, Cramer is the only female baseball coach at any level at the Northside Youth Organization at Chastain Park. Her son, Richard, now 6 and a kindergartner at The Galloway School, plays in a league for 6- and 7-year-olds.
In her fourth year as the third base coach on her son’s teams, Cramer says most people now know who she is and aren’t surprised anymore to see a woman waving runners around the bases.
“But I do run into some testosterone sometimes,” she jokes.
Baseball, teaching it and talking about it, is one of her passions.
“I’m not a team mom. I’m not a dugout mom. I am on the field,” she said. “When the umpire says, ‘Coaches on the field,’ I’m there.
“I just love baseball.”
Nina, once a softball player who played recreationally, enjoys helping run practices and teaching kids how to run the bases.
She doesn’t take the job lightly.
“When they round those bases, they’re looking at me,” she said. “It’s hard work. Not only am I the only woman out there, but my son’s playing. I’ve got to know what I’m doing, and I’ve got to be good at it. I take it very seriously and I love kids.”
Jon Hoffenberger, head coach of her son’s team, says her enthusiasm is contagious.
“Nina’s extremely passionate about the game of baseball,” he said. “She’s great with the kids, and I think is committed to not just making the kids better, but also making sure that they have fun and build a true love for the game. She gets into the game and knows the game well.”
People in Sandy Springs know Cramer, who lives on Long Island Drive, as a longtime resident who has been a staunch advocate for conservation efforts in the city.
When she isn’t devoting her time to the Yankees at NYO, Cramer is working to preserve some of city’s oldest trees. Cramer founded Trees Sandy Springs, an organization devoted to preserving heritage trees and planting new ones.
“One of the first things we have to do to protect quality of life is to protect the tree canopy,” she says.
She got the idea for the organization from years of volunteering with Trees Atlanta.
“I would drive down from Sandy Springs, down into Atlanta, down into College Park, and I guess after about a year or two of doing that after we became a city, I thought, ‘Nobody’s doing that in Sandy Springs.’”
Karen Meinzen McEnerny, city councilwoman in District 6 from 2005-14, has been friends with Cramer for close to a decade, bonding with her over their interest in conservation.
“She’s a can-do, incredibly visionary person,” McEnerny said. “Being a volunteer at NYO is just another example of it. She’s just a little Energizer Bunny. She sees something that needs to be done and she goes out there and does it.”
Cramer and McEnerny, who was an outspoken tree advocate during her time on the council, are active in a group pushing for stronger regulations for developers regarding the city’s tree ordinance, and each is hopeful that will become a possibility later this year.
With District 6 one of the most sought-after areas for new development, Cramer admits the zoning issues, meetings and effort needed to fight for preservation can be taxing. But to her, it’s worth it.
“Sandy Springs is, to me, where I want to be forever. I’ve been other places, but I want to live here.
“It’s a wonderful quality of life. I love Sandy Springs.”