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Legends On Deck

Shaq (Thompson) Attack 2.0

During the evening of April 30th, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell stepped to a podium in Chicago and announced “With the 30th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers select linebacker Shaq Thompson from the University of Washington”.

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Photo Courtesy: @ShaqThompson_7

It was not the first time Shaquille Green-Thompson heard his name announced at a draft of one of the four major professional sports.

Thompson, a football star at Grant High School in Sacramento, California was highly recruited by a number of colleges and eventually earned a scholarship to attend Washington, but in his senior year, after hearing of numerous concussions and injuries related to the sport, was asked by his family to consider playing baseball instead.

Despite not having played organized baseball since little league, Thompson played and did well enough that the Boston Red Sox selected him in the 18th round of baseball’s 2012 June draft.

Thompson agreed to a contract with the Red Sox and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League with the stipulation that he could leave in late July to prepare for his freshman year at Washington where he would be starting at defensive back for the Huskies.

Thompson reported and went through drills with Boston’s coaches and made his debut on June 27th at jetBlue Park, the Red Sox spring training home against the Gulf Coast Orioles and went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts.

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Photo Courtesy: @ShaqThompson_7

 

Two days later, in a game at the Minnesota Twins complex, Thompson was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts. He did reach base for his first time professionally when he walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole 3rd and scored on an RBI double by Red Sox second baseman Denier Lopez.

Thompson walked seven more times that summer, and was hit by a pitch once, however they were the only times he reached base. He ended the year 0 for 39 with a staggering 37 strikeouts.

Through it all, Thompson kept a positive attitude and was eager to learn the sport he had abandoned for so long. He was praised by the Red Sox coaches and then-GCL manager George Lombard for his work ethic and positive demeanor despite his on-field struggles.

Thompson only made contact twice that season, the first time on July 16th in a home game against the Twins when his ground ball to first base scored teammate Iseha Conklin and gave Thompson his only pro RBI.

On July 20th, Thompson’s final game before leaving for college, he was 0 for 2 against the Twins. He struck out in his first at bat. His second time up, Thompson flared a ball into the gap in right center at jetBlue Park and Twins right fielder Joel Licon ran it down and made a shoestring catch, robbing Thompson of his first hit. He was replaced defensively the following inning by Jose Colorado.

Thompson starred for the Huskies at defensive back/linebacker for three years and declared for the 2015 NFL draft as a junior.

Shaq Thompson is now a multi millionaire who figures to be a solid NFL player with the potential to be a defensive star, but it’s unlikely he will ever forget his time in minor league baseball.

Brian Mullen

Brian is a Boston native and art school student who took a summer job with a baseball team and never left. He has been employed by the Boston Red Sox in one capacity or another since 1982. He also follows and blogs college basketball. Follow him on Twitter @BostonBrian2015