Shaq Thompson Went 0-for-39 as a Baseball Player

The Carolina Panthers selected a pretty good linebacker in Shaq Thompson with their 25th pick in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft last night. Thompson, who was coming out of the university of Washington was an AP All-American in football, but he also tried out baseball before football, which didn’t go as smoothly.

Thompson hadn’t played baseball since he was in sixth grade, but when he was 17 he received a phone call that may have caught him off guard. The Boston Red Sox called the high school football star. Yes, the Boston Red Sox. The baseball team.

Hey Shaq, we just want to gauge your interest in playing professional baseball.

The Red Sox’s amateur director of scouting Amiel Sawdaye proposed a challenged to his staff in 2012. The challenge was to find an athlete. It didn’t matter how unpolished they were at the game of baseball, the team just wanted athletic talent. The team found one of the best athletes in Northern California in Thompson. Thompson started to get back into baseball by playing varsity ball in Spring. He had 18 hits with 17 strikeouts that Spring. Those numbers however launched his baseball career.

The Red Sox picked Thompson in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

 Ethan Faggett/Boston Red Sox
Ethan Faggett/Boston Red Sox

Thompson was sent to the Red Sox’s rookie ball team. In 39 at-bats, Thompson didn’t record a single hit. He struck out 37 times while walking eight. Thompson quickly found out baseball wasn’t the sport for him. A rival scout to the Red Sox questioned the move by the Sox right away after his career fell of the rails.

“What were the Red Sox thinking? This isn’t some Disney movie.”

“We knew there would be a distinct possibility he would struggle,” Sawdaye says. “That was expected. But in the best case scenario, maybe we could catch lightning in a bottle.”

Thompson’s NFL career is expected to go way better than his baseball career will, and he learned a very important lesson while he struggled playing baseball.

“I learned how to accept failure,” he says. “I learned not to be afraid of it, to embrace it, that it’s O.K.”

Thompson’s story shows you can’t be afraid to fail, as failing may give you a better chance to succeed.

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