CHICAGO — The journey of any player from youth baseball to the World Series is always a unique one, and that’s the case for a native of Chicago this week.
It’s one that Bobby Hurry witnessed first hand during Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas’ prep career and even this year.
The longtime head coach of Mount Carmel High School’s varsity baseball team has followed the outfielder’s journey since he was drafted by Arizona in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Of course, that includes Thomas’ contributions to the Diamondbacks’ run to their first National League pennant in 22 years, serving both in a starting and reserve role. He’s doing so in just his second season in the majors, and even hit a game-tying two-run homer in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Phillies that led to a victory.
“Alek has always been, to me, mature beyond his years,” said Hurry to WGN News Now. “You see what’s he going through now in the playoffs. He’s not starting every game, he comes off the bench against lefties, but he stays ready.
“Obviously, he’s all about team and whatever it takes to help the team win on a given day.”
That’s a maturity that Hurry also saw months before the run to the World Series from Thomas when things weren’t going so well at the start of his second major league season. Hitting just .195 through the first month-and-a-half of the season, the outfielder was sent down to Class AAA Reno to get back on track.
“That speaks to not quitting, not giving up on yourself, continuing to believe in yourself, and that’s the Alek that I’ve known since he was in eighth grade,” said Hurry of the early demotion to the minors.
Indeed Thomas responded well, hitting .348 in 26 games in Reno and earning his call back up to the majors on June 19 before Arizona’s game against the Brewers in Milwaukee. He hit a two-run homer off Corbin Burnes in his return to the Diamondbacks.
Hurry had the chance to be there to see Thomas’ return to the majors at Miller Park, which was a special moment for himself and the outfielder.
“I just told him to hang in there, to keep his energy focused on the things that he could control, not what he can’t,” said Hurry of his words of encouragement after being sent to the minors. “He understood that. It was a similar message that he got from me at school.”
Like his time at Mount Carmel, Thomas shook off the setback and remained on the major league club the rest of the season, playing in 118 games, hitting .230 with 17 doubles, five triples, nine homers and 39 RBI.
In the postseason, the outfielder has found power in both the starter and pinch-hit roles, slugging four homers and driving in six runs in 12 Arizona playoff games. That now allows Hurry to watch one of his players in the World Series this week as the Diamondbacks start play against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Friday night at 7:03 p.m. Central Time.
Hurry will be in attendance for Game 3 of the series in Phoenix at Chase Field, watching one of his former players take the field on baseball’s greatest stage.
“I just couldn’t let this moment pass,” said Hurry of attending a World Series game that Thomas will play in. “I’m gonna take it all in.”
Doing so in the good times and even some of the bad in what’s been a unique yet historic season for the young outfielder for Chicago.