The two pictures of Kevin Nolan starkly contrast.
There he is, the easy-smiling sophomore Winthrop shortstop, with Sean Sullivan at a recent practice. They're standing on the first-base line and trying to throw a baseball over the left field fence. Neither makes it but there's plenty of laughing.
There he is, sitting by himself after another close game, cap pulled low and the black stripes smeared under his eyes starting to streak. He went 3-for-4 but the Eagles lost, and the smile that's always present off the field is staying gone.
"He doesn't get physically angry but you can tell he gets upset when certain events happen," said roommate Jason Kosakow. "He's very team-oriented. One of the most unselfish people I've met since I've been playing baseball."
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Ask Nolan a question away from the field and he'll reply with a smile and a sheepish, "I don't know ... " He looks like he should be sitting down with Opie and the gang for one of Aunt Bee's bean pies.
On the field, where he's started all but one of 99 games in his career, Nolan's deadly serious. No grin, no rah-rah, no emotion.
Heavily clinical. Steely determination.
And really, really good.
"Some people look at him and think he's laid-back, not real intense," coach Joe Hudak said. "Certainly not the truth. He's very intense inside and expects a lot out of himself. Certainly one of the best players on our club."
"I like to have fun and joke around with the guys," Nolan protested, pointing out Kosakow and another roomie, John Murrian, labeled him an accomplished prankster. "I don't know ... I just try to get focused and excited to play.
"We each get along, which is nice, but come game time, we know the roles we all have. I just want to get ready to play."
Heading into tonight's game hosting Elon, Nolan remains at the top of the team batting chart (.346). He's been there all season, keyed by a six-RBI performance on Opening Day and a swing that smacks line drives to all gaps.
He's also still holding down the short fort, somehow turning a 6-foot-2 frame into a fluid catch-and-throw defensive anchor. Thought to be a third or second baseman when he was brought in a year ago, Nolan has taken over the most crucial position.
But while his double-play tandem mate, second baseman Aaron Bonomi, has carved a niche as one of the team's wild men and captains Eddie Tisdale and Billy Froehlich were shaving their heads into mohawks, Nolan was quietly going about his business. Different strokes for different folks, one supposes, but Nolan never does anything but play the game.
"He's always been that way. That's his personality," said his mother, Brenda, from her Nashua, N.H., home. "I think he learned that from his father (Chris, a former high school baseball player). 'Don't get upset, go to the next play.'"
He learned to keep his mouth shut and let his bat and glove talk as a freshman starting shortstop on a veteran high school team. His lankiness wasn't going to produce a lot of home runs so he concentrated on driving the ball, keeping his swing level and through the zone.
"He doesn't foul off a lot of pitches -- that's the sign of a good hitter," said B.J. Neverett, Nolan's coach at Nashua High School. "And he always seemed to be the guy that rose to the occasion in the bigger games. He really tore it up against good teams."
And kept his plate discipline into college. Nolan leads the Eagles with a scant 12 strikeouts in 159 at-bats.
Nolan described himself as quiet and low-key, a guy who tries to be a non-vocal leader. The term "laid back" wasn't mentioned.
His coaches, teammates, roommates and mother all said it.
Just not when they were discussing how he plays.
"He's just a really laid back guy," Murrian said. "Everybody will try to get him riled up. I really don't see too much of him. He pretty much stays in his room."
"He has his moments," Kosakow said. "He's done his share of funny things. He won't just walk in and ignore us ... he'll always come by and say hi, at least. But he definitely thinks about the game."
Once Nolan was on campus, Hudak could relax, knowing he'd never have to worry about his shortstop acting a fool. If the thought ever crossed his mind that Nolan's easygoing demeanor would affect his performance, it was erased within a minute.
"He's a very hard-working, very intense kid, but he's very quiet," Hudak said. "He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve. You can't tell if he struck out with the bases loaded or he hit a grand slam."
When the Eagles are doing their standard warm-up -- the infamous Korean Paper-Rock-Scissors to the tune of "Kung Fu Fighting" -- Nolan's sitting on the bench, re-taping his elbow or tying up the strings on his mitt, anything to concentrate on. Even when he finally got the one missing piece of his resume, knocking his first collegiate home run a week ago at Wake Forest, he hurriedly circled the bases and sat back down.
No glorified homer trot, even though he'd had 95 games to think about it.
"It was nice to finally get that one," he said, about to smile before straightening his expression. "Would have been nicer if we'd have won the game."
It was pointed out Nolan was 3-for-3 against Wake, with three RBIs and two runs scored. He also walked twice.
"I guess ... " Nolan responded. "I should have had another hit."