Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Thomas Brittle, former Berkeley Stags and Clemson Tigers baseball star, did not get the storybook ending to his baseball career he wanted. He was not selected in Major League Baseball’s June 6 amateur draft.
However, being passed over in the draft hasn’t slowed Brittle’s pursuit of his dream to play professional baseball.
Taking a page from the Stags’ baseball team motto of “Find a Way,” Brittle hopes to do just that.
“I have talked to one of the coaches at Clemson and he is looking for opportunities for me to get picked up, whether it is through a free agent signing, a tryout I can go to, or an independent team to play on for the rest of the summer,” Brittle said. “I haven't closed the book on my career yet so I am still trying to find a way to keep playing the game I love and hopefully live out another childhood dream of mine, and that is playing in the major leagues.”
Brittle hit .264 during his senior campaign, down from an historic junior season that saw the Tiger leadoff hitter string together a 22-game hitting streak. The streak was the eighth longest in Clemson baseball history. Brittle led the team with 15 steals and ended the season hitting .298.
If this is the end of the road for Brittle, he still plans on keeping sports a big part of his life.
“I am not really sure what my next opportunity will be if my playing days are done,” he said. “I definitely have considered getting into some type of coaching but I am not sure if that will be the route I will take.
“I will say that whatever I decide to do more than likely will have something to do with sports since sports have been such a big influence in my life.”
The former Berkeley centerfielder shared his story with youngsters this month at baseball camp at the Moncks Corner Youth Fields. Brittle said it is interesting how things have come full circle as he remembered it wasn’t that long ago when he was one of those campers pulling up a swatch of outfield grass to listen to a former player talk baseball.
“One thing that I can say is that my path to a successful career was anything but easy,” he said. “It took a lot of hard work to get to where I got; there were many times where I might have wanted to do something else one day but I knew that I needed to put in the extra work to become the player that I wanted to be.”
Brittle said today’s kids need to work on becoming complete baseball players and not neglect what may be perceived as the little things such as base-running, throwing and defense.
“I think the biggest thing that kids today need to do to get their own opportunity is just work at every aspect of the game,” he said. “A lot of young players today are so worried about being such a great hitter they put the other phases of their game aside and forget about how important the other phases are to their success.”
Brittle speaks from experience. It was his speed and his defense in the outfield that offered him the opportunity to play on a regular basis. He realized nothing is ever guaranteed except that hard work eventually pays dividends.
“Even though you might be the best player in your age group now does not guarantee that you will be the best player forever,” he said. “You must continue to work hard to continue to get better to separate yourself even more from other players.”
Brittle never took putting on a baseball uniform for granted as it gave him a special feeling. Playing for Clemson was fulfilling a childhood dream.
“I had always been a Clemson fan and one of my biggest childhood dreams was to play baseball at Clemson,” he said. “It did not really hit me that I was living out that dream until I put that uniform on for my first game I played at Clemson.
“I remember running out to the outfield to start the game and thinking to myself, ‘This is really happening, I am playing baseball for THE Clemson Tigers.’”
It remains to be seen whether or not Brittle will get the chance to fulfill another childhood dream, but like the motto on the backs of the camp T-shirts say, he will find a way. “Whatever it takes,” he said. “I don’t care how I get there. I just want a chance to play.”