The York Revolution improved to 2-0 in spring training competition with a 7-4 win at Somerset on Thursday. Unfortunately I was not able to make the trip. As a result, there is little to report as far as spring training news is concerned. In the meantime, below is a story on former York reliever Adam Thomas, who retired from baseball and recently began working full-time as the sports event coordinator in the Parks & Recreation Department for Citrus County, Florida.
Please check back Friday for spring training news – including what happened in Thursday’s scrimmage. The Revs will be back home Friday for a morning practice that is closed to the public. It will be their final warmup before Saturday’s FanFest exhibition against a team of retired Atlantic League alumni at Sovereign Bank Stadium. Among many activities planned, there will be a concert on Brooks Robinson Plaza at noon, with gates to the stadium opening at 1 p.m. for the 2 p.m. game.
Also, in case you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s a feature story from Thursday on new Revs’ starting pitcher Brett Tomko, who is expected to pitch Saturday in the FanFest exhibition. Here are some tidbits not included in that story:
- Tomko started up his pitching program in December to get ready for the upcoming season to make sure he was ready to pitch in case any big league teams invited him to spring training.
- Tomko dislocated his shoulder last season in his 12th start for Class AAA Louisville when delivering a pitch. He said the shoulder dislocated and popped back in all in one motion, and he stayed in the game to pitch another three innings.
- Last year’s shoulder dislocation was only the second major injury in Tomko’s 18-year pro career. In 2010, he pinched a nerve in his throwing arm and lost feeling between his elbow and wrist. Doctors told him he wouldn’t return to the game, but he rehabbed over four months and came back just fine: “I was throwing the ball 10 to 15 feet over guys heads (during rehab). I had to learn all my motor skills again. But I ended up returning to the big leagues in 2011.”
Thomas: Adam Thomas no longer thinks twice about the past. It’s a change of tune from how he felt around this point last year.
That’s when he last chatted with me about his decision to step away from the game for three years to work full-time for the Heroes Foundation, a non-profit based in Dallas, Texas, that provides opportunities for children and teenagers to participate in baseball and basketball programs to prepare them for competition at the college level.
He returned to the game in 2011, posting a 1.73 ERA with the Atlantic League’s all-travel Road Warriors club (now defunct) before coming back to York in 2012. What would’ve happened if he didn’t leave the game briefly after the 2007 season?
“Twenty years down the road that’s a question I’m always going to ask myself. ‘What if I would have kept going? What if I wouldn’t have done something else?’” Thomas had said in an interview last April.
At the time, Thomas was just getting ready for the 2012 season, one in which he went 8-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 67 appearances for York. He didn’t know his experience with the Heroes Foundation would leave to his current position as the newly created sports event coordinator in the Parks & Recreation Department for Citrus County, Florida.
“As a baseball player you always had the ‘What if I did this? What if I did that?,” Thomas said by phone last week. “God wanted me to be in Dallas, Texas and run that (the Heroes Foundation) for those three years. Through that knowledge He gave me, I’m
able to land this position.”
Thomas reached the decision to walk away from baseball shortly after last season.
“I had a long talk with (Revolution manager) Mark Mason about what my plans were and stuff,” Thomas said. “I’m 34 years old this year. In baseball age, that’s 35 and-a-half. It’s not any younger.”
Thomas and his wife of four years have a 17-month-old son, Tristan, and are expecting their second child in July.
“I got another kid on the way. I’m gonna have two kids. Playing independent ball was great until I started to get a family. Being away from them last year was hard and difficult. It’s a difficult choice to give baseball up. I love York, love the town. It’s a great league. Mark (Mason) is probably one of the best managers in baseball right now.”
Now, Thomas will rely on his previous experience with the Heroes Foundation to try to boost tourism in Citrus County by bringing various sports events, including large tournaments, to the town. The county recently created the position and decided between Thomas and one other person to fill it. He just completed his first full week working for the county last week.
“What we’re doing is building up sports tourism here in Citrus County,” he said. “They saw what I did in Dallas with the Heroes Organization and they realized what I did with baseball. It was kind of a nitch for me to get this position. It was between me and another guy going for it.”
It sounds like Thomas already has the sales pitch down, too.
“We have a lot to offer here. It’s on the water, we have wildlife preservation and a spring water river that’s 72 degrees year-round that you can go kayaking in,” he said.
Thomas and his family recently moved from Dallas to Citrus County. He was working at Lowe’s and giving baseball lessons on the side to make ends meet before taking the Citrus County position.
As for baseball, Thomas isn’t completely saying goodbye to the sport in which he spent 10 pro seasons, reaching Class AAA in 2006 in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization.
“When my son gets older and he’s four or five years old he’ll be starting on a little tee-ball team,” Thomas said. “Maybe when he’s eight years old he’ll be on a traveling or select-ball team. Plus, I’m still be giving baseball lessons and coaching on the side.”
So many times when having these conversations with pro players opting to retire, they don’t know what they’re going to do next. Or they might have plans to look around for a coaching gig or go back to school. With that being said, Thomas knows he’s fortunate with his current situation, which may have only happened thanks to his previous experience outside of baseball.
“I’m very blessed,” he said.Read More