BY DEAN GREENAWAY
After saying goodbye to teammates following a meeting with coaches on Sunday, Nateshon “Shadow” Thomas left the Netherlands where he played with Great Britain in the 2016 European Baseball Championships and returned to Hamburg, Germany, where he has been for the last two years.
His bags weren’t quite yet unpacked when he received an email that he had been added to Great Britain’s roster for the preliminaries of the World Baseball Classic and he’d be flying to New York on Wednesday for Thursday’s first game against Israel in Brooklyn’s Cyclones Stadium.
“It just feels amazing—words can’t explain how good I’m feeling,” said Thomas who played Third Base, Short Stop and pitched. “This is something I worked for ever since I found out the Great Britain even had a baseball team national team and that they were going to play in this type of baseball tournament. So, really, words just can’t explain the feeling. I’m totally excited, totally overwhelmed that they would even think of me in a situation like this, so it’s a really good feeling, really great.”
Thomas said playing in this event also opens other professional opportunities for him.
“Just being on the roster alone, I think any team that I approach, they’ll definitely take me a little more seriously,” he said. “But, if I could perform at a high level with any opportunity I’m given with playing time, that would definitely open doors and give teams a better insight of what I can do at a high level of playing.”
Thomas said after playing in the European Championships last week, rosters had been all set and announced but, a roster spot opened, because before the tournament, Great Britain baseball officials had no idea who he was and his level of play.
“I was back in Germany and they sent an email saying they were going to book a flight and they booked a flight to New York, early on Wednesday morning for the World Baseball Classic qualifier,” he said. “If we win, we’ll then move on to the World Baseball Classic in March 2017.”
Before the good news, Thomas had come in for praise from Great Britain’s head coach Liam Carroll as ‘one to watch’ after his stint with the team.
“Nateshon continued to impress our staff as the tournament went on, particularly in his pitching performance versus Russia and how offensive he was for us in our last two games,” Carroll said in an exclusive correspondence evaluating the 28-year-old player. “On the pitching side, he pitched well enough to win in a game that went south for us after he was removed from the game. Offensively, the dynamic skill-set we talked about earlier in the week really came to life, and everyone was dazzled with his speed when he hit an inside the park home run in our last game.”
Carroll, also a scout, met with Thomas on Sunday about opportunities to play baseball possibly in the Netherlands starting next season, after he played with the Bad Hamburg Hornets for the last two years, a team that compiled 3-29 and 2-30 records in the German league.
“We’re looking forward to reviewing his debut in the coming weeks and I’m hopeful that Nateshon will want to remain a part of our program,” said Carroll after Great Britain’s two victories that secured their spot in the European Championships in two years. “The exciting this is that I think with some adjustments we’ll see even more from him in the future, and given how coachable he is and that he clicked with our program so quickly, he’s going to be one to watch for the next Euros in 2018.”
Thomas said Coach Carroll wants him to come to London to work with the Team Great Britain kids and also help work on fine tuning some things with his game for the next season. He was 3-for-5 with two doubles and an inside the park homer, scored twice, had a stolen base and finished with 4 RBI’s in a 19-2 win over Greece in the final game.
“Coach is a former scout and has lots of connections and knows a team in the Netherlands that will be a good fit or me,” he said.