For Great Britain, homer worthy of royal treatment
47 minutes ago
PHOENIX — When Trayce Thompson jogged out for pregame introductions Saturday at Chase Field, the heavily leaning U.S. crowd appeared to save some extra boos in the bag. Just two pitches into his at-bat against Team USA starter and three-time All-Star Adam Wainwright, Thompson had the last laugh.
Capitalizing on a hanging breaking ball in the heart of the plate, Thompson, the highest-profile big leaguer on a burgeoning British baseball squad, walloped a solo home run to left-center field in the first inning of Great Britain’s 6-2 loss.
Upon returning to the dugout, his teammates put a new twist on an old celebration: this time breaking out the crown and robe, adorning their new king on his achievement of being the first member of Great Britain to homer in a World Baseball Classic contest.
“We were excited,” Great Britain manager Drew Spencer said. “That’s a great moment for us. We said for us to have a chance in this game we would need to strike early and we did. It built some confidence. People were excited that the game plan looked like it was working.”
Thompson is playing for Great Britain to honor his father, Mychal, who was born in the Bahamas, one of the countries that helps to make up the eclectic roster. Trayce is donning the No. 43, the same one his father wore for all but one game of his NBA career.
“He’s my hero. He’s my idol,” Trayce said of his father. “I was choosing between that and 28 because my uncle Colin was a big-time baseball player in the Bahamas – he wore 28.
“43 will always be a special number in my opinion. It’s to honor my dad and everyone in the Bahamas.”
While many see a Great Britain squad that is participating in a major international baseball event for the first time since 2009 as a significant underdog in a pool that includes the United States, Canada and Mexico, Thompson is of the belief that the Brits can buck the trend.
“Baseball is crazy. It has a way of humbling you,” Thompson said. “Even the best players can be beat by a guy that’s in Rookie ball, you’ll see it in Spring Training all the time. Anything can happen, and that’s the beautiful thing about this game.”