SOUTH YARMOUTH—Baseball dreams run deep for some kids on Cape Cod. Growing up watching future big-league ballplayers shine in the Cape Cod Baseball League, it’s easy for young boys to envision themselves running onto their local Cape League diamond to play the game they love in front of their families and friends.
Kurt Thomas is no different. He has those same baseball dreams.
Thomas first began imagining what it would be like to play in the nation’s top collegiate summer league around 2008, when his family started hosting players from their hometown Harwich Mariners. As a youngster, Thomas served as a bat boy for Harwich, an opportunity that gave him a firsthand glimpse at what it was like to play summer ball on his community’s biggest stage.
“It’s been a goal forever,” Thomas said when asked if he’d like to one day play in the CCBL. “I’ve always wanted to play here in the summer.”
Dreams of donning a Mariners uniform and running out onto Whitehouse Field will have to wait for Thomas — at least until next summer. He’ll be eligible to play in the Cape League next year after completing his freshman year at Central Connecticut State University, where he’ll study criminology and play baseball for the Blue Devils’ Division I program.
While those long-term dreams are constant, Thomas has other baseball goals to address. Right now, he’s one of the driving forces behind the Nauset Regional High School baseball team’s historic season.
The recent Nauset graduate pitched a scoreless seventh inning Monday afternoon in the Warriors’ season finale, a 5-1 victory at Dennis-Yarmouth that clinched a perfect 12-0 regular season record.
Thomas does a little bit of everything for the Cape and Islands League Atlantic Division champions. He’s third in Nauset’s batting order, though opposing pitchers hardly ever give him much to hit. Junior Noah Clarke, the team’s cleanup hitter, often makes teams pay when pitchers refuse to attack Thomas with strikes.
“Teams pitched around him,” said first-year Nauset coach Kevin Curtin. “Noah had 17 RBIs hitting behind him because (Thomas) was always on base.”
Although opposing teams have some say in what Thomas accomplishes in the batter’s box, he determines the pace of the game when he toes the mound for the Warriors. As a senior, Thomas has owned the roll of the squad’s ace pitcher, and he’s experienced great success with his fastball, which has enough giddy-up to make hitters swing and miss.
As good as his fastball is, however, it’s his off-speed selection that can really make batters look silly. Thomas has complete control of his curveball, and he’ll drop it through the strike zone like a yo-yo on a string.
The combination of his pitches and his spirit to compete makes it easy for Curtin to turn to Thomas when he really needs a pitcher to shut down an opponent.
“He’s obviously our stopper,” the coach said. “We can pitch him against anybody and it’ll change the way they play against us. He’s an absolutely dominant pitcher.”
While Thomas loves to hit, he’s willing to admit there is something about taking the mound and having the ball in his hand.
“I love hitting and love playing the field,” he said. “Some people say it’s best in the (batter’s) box, but I find it most competitive on the mound.”
Thomas will leave Nauset as one of the best players to ever suit up for the Warriors, though his baseball dreams started taking shape long before he arrived at the school. Throughout his youth, he played for a number of travel teams, both local and away, including the Northeast Baseball Rays out of Harvard and the Middleton-based Legends Prospects.
He’s also benefited from his connection to the Cape League, particularly the relationships he’s developed with the players his family has hosted over the years.
“It’s awesome,” said Thomas, who noted his family has hosted Chatham Anglers players in recent years. “I have a batting cage at home so I get to hit with these guys daily and pick their brains and whatnot. I was lucky enough to have Spencer Torkelson — he was the number one pick in the MLB draft last year — stay at my house for two summers. Just to be friends with these guys and talk to them is sweet.”
Having access to a batting cage in his backyard has certainly helped Thomas improve his skills. And although he has a pitching machine he can fill with balls and hit on his own, he much prefers the sight of the ball coming off of his father’s fingertips during batting practice.
“My dad throws money B.P.,” he says with a smile.
Thomas has had to overcome plenty throughout his high school baseball career, from missing significant time because of injuries to seeing his entire junior season get canceled because of COVID-19. Now he’s able to enjoy all that the game has to offer as he and his Nauset teammates prepare to take their unbeaten record into the Division 2 South sectional tournament.
While his impact on the field is apparent, Thomas has led away from the diamond, too. Alongside the team’s other captains, Ethan Keeney and Richie Corres, Thomas helped organize a virtual fundraiser to benefit the National MS Society.
“I and I believe one other teammate have it running in our families, so it was really important,” Thomas said when asked about the cause. “Coach came up to the captains and asked us if there was something we’d want to do and I brought that to his attention. The team ended up going with it and sticking with it to raise money for a good cause and to get involved with the community.”
To donate to the fundraiser, visit bit.ly/35nuYu5.
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org