|Born:February 16, 1982|
Gregory Nash (born February 16,1982),nicknamed "Toe" or "Big Toe",is a retired professional baseball player. He played minor league baseball in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Rays) organization in 2001. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) and weighing 220 pounds (100 kg),Nash received his nickname due to his size 18 (US) shoes.
A high school dropout,Nash was discovered by the Devil Rays while playing in a semi-professional league in Sorrento,Louisiana. His life story seemed so improbable that baseball executives at first thought Nash was a hoax,similar to Sidd Finch. Despite his natural ability,compared to Babe Ruth,and the fictional Roy Hobbs character from The Natural ,Nash's legal troubles shortened his professional career.
Nash is from Sorrento,Louisiana. His mother abandoned him when he was 12 years old,and his father Charles "Tuttie" Payton raised him along with his younger sister Joanna in a trailer home. Payton taught Nash to hit as a child using old socks and bottle caps in lieu of baseballs. He was expelled from two schools for fighting,and later dropped out of school altogether after being suspended for a fight in the eighth grade. 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) and weighing 140 pounds (64 kg),he struck out 17 of 21 batters he faced with a 70-mile-per-hour (110 km/h) fastball,and hit two home runs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays scout Benny Latino,a former college player at Southeastern Louisiana University whose hometown is Hammond,watched the game,and made a note to look for Nash in the future,assuming he would be a star in high school. As he did not attend high school,however,Nash fell into obscurity and Latino spent seven years looking for him.In 1994 at the age of 12,Nash played in the Dixie Youth Tournament,a Little League tournament in Hammond,Louisiana. Standing
In lieu of a high school education,Nash went to work in his cousin's sugar cane fields at age 16 along with his father. He played in exhibitions against local high schools and in a semi-professional baseball league,and attended an open tryout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the age of 18,Latino found Nash playing in this semi-pro league,known as the Sugar Cane League,featuring amateurs and ex-minor leaguers. In a game in Tangipahoa,the scout witnessed Toe hitting 400-foot (120 m) home runs from both sides of the plate,and throwing 93 miles per hour (150 km/h) from the mound. The Devil Rays brought Nash to their minor league camp in Princeton,West Virginia,for a workout in front of scouting director Dan Jennings. Nash pitched in the high 80s,topping out at 95 miles per hour (153 km/h). He also hit towering home runs,drawing comparisons to Yankee legend Babe Ruth for his power. After Nash went undrafted in the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft,the Devil Rays signed him for a $30,000 signing bonus. He was assigned to their fall instructional league,where he played in the outfield alongside Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford. Nash's agent,Larry Reynolds,introduced Nash to his brother Harold Reynolds,an ESPN analyst and former major league infielder,who invited him to a baseball camp in Los Angeles in February 2001. There,Nash worked out with MLB players,including Tony Gwynn,Barry Bonds,Eddie Murray,and Alvin Davis. Harold Reynolds also discussed Nash on television. Officials from other organizations felt that the story reminded them of the hoax of Sidd Finch.
Despite legal troubles,including an arrest for felony robbery,Nash reported to spring training with the Devil Rays in 2001.They assigned him to extended spring training, and then to the Princeton Devil Rays of the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2001,playing alongside future major leaguer Jonny Gomes. In his first season,Nash hit .240 with eight home runs and 29 runs batted in in 47 games played,and was considered a long-term project for the organization due to his lack of formal training.
According to Latino,Nash "couldn't read,couldn't write...Just wasn't ready to function in society...with an education and social skills of a kid about thirteen years old."Returning to Louisiana after the 2001 season,Nash spent nearly nine months in jail in 2002 for aggravated and statutory rape,after allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl. After the aggravated rape charges were dropped,Nash agreed to a plea bargain and was given a 10-year suspended sentence. The Devil Rays released Nash in September 2002,the day after he was released from jail.
After being released by the Rays,the Cincinnati Reds signed Nash in the 2002–03 offseason.The club voided his contract for unspecified legal reasons,believed to be a bar fight for which Nash was arrested. Nash was arrested again in 2005 for a parole violation,and was charged for drug possession,leading him to serve the full 10 years of his previously suspended jail sentence. Nash was released from prison in November 2013. He was arrested again,however,in 2015 on drug charges.
Nash's cousin,former NBA player John "Hot Rod" Williams,organized the Williams All Stars,the Sugar Cane League team on which Nash played.
"The Story of Toe Nash" was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter on June 27,2014. The feature recounted the then 32-year-old Nash being reunited with Benny Latino,and his return to the Sugar Cane League.
Constantino "Tino" Martinez is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Seattle Mariners,New York Yankees,St. Louis Cardinals,and Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1990 through 2005. He also served as a hitting coach for the Miami Marlins in 2013. His nickname is The Bam-tino,which came from a home run in game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Formerly a third baseman and first baseman,Martinez was the first round draft pick for the Seattle Mariners in 1988 out of the University of Tampa where he starred during his time on campus. He began his Major League career in 1990 and played for the Mariners,New York Yankees,St. Louis Cardinals,and Tampa Bay Devil Rays,before rejoining the Yankees in the 2005 season. During his 16-year MLB career,he scored 1,009 runs,drove in 1,271 runs,and hit 339 home runs. He had 100 or more RBI in six different seasons and was twice named to the All-Star team.
David Michael Dellucci is an American former professional baseball outfielder,who played 13 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for seven teams.
Kurt Harold Ainsworth is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played for the San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles of the Major League Baseball (MLB) and went to Louisiana State University. Ainsworth also won an Olympic Games gold medal with the United States national baseball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Following his professional baseball career,Ainsworth co-founded Marucci Sports and currently serves as the company's CEO.
JoséLuis Cruz Jr.,is a Puerto Rican baseball coach and former outfielder,who is the current head baseball coach for the Rice Owls. He played college baseball at Rice from 1992 to 1995 and played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 12 seasons from 1997 to 2008. In 2021,he returned to his alma mater,Rice.
Brandon Allen Backe is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Houston Astros during his career.
Ben Grieve is an American former professional baseball outfielder. He batted left and threw right. In his nine-season career,he played with the Oakland Athletics (1997–2000),Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2001–2003),Milwaukee Brewers (2004),and Chicago Cubs (2004–2005).
Joey Renard Gathright is a former Major League Baseball outfielder for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays,Kansas City Royals,Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. He was born in Hattiesburg,Mississippi.
Bradley Bonte Hawpe is an American former professional baseball outfielder. Hawpe played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Colorado Rockies,Tampa Bay Rays,San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Before he became a professional,Hawpe attended Louisiana State University (LSU),where he played college baseball for the LSU Tigers.
Paul Anthony Sorrento is the Los Angeles Angels assistant hitting coach. He is a former first baseman in Major League Baseball. From 1989 through 1999,Sorrento played for the Minnesota Twins (1989–1991),Cleveland Indians (1992–1995),Seattle Mariners (1996–1997) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998–1999). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
John "Hot Rod" Williams was an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1986 to 1999.
Ryan Stewart Theriot is a former Major League Baseball shortstop and second baseman. He played for the Chicago Cubs,Los Angeles Dodgers,St. Louis Cardinals,and San Francisco Giants between 2005 and 2012.
Matthew Brian Bush is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has spent his entire major league career with the Rangers. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres with the first overall draft pick in the 2004 Major League Baseball draft.
Andy Mark Sheets is an American former professional baseball player. Sheets played for the Seattle Mariners (1996–1997),San Diego Padres (1998),Anaheim Angels (1999),Boston Red Sox (2000) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2001–2002). And also,he played for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (2003–2004),and Hanshin Tigers (2005–2007),of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).
Elijah David Dukes,Jr. is an American former professional baseball player. A right-handed outfielder,he played in Major League Baseball for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Washington Nationals.
St. Amant High School is a high school located in Ascension Parish,Louisiana,United States. It is within the Ascension Parish School Board.
The 2002 Tampa Bay Devil Rays season was their fifth since the franchise was created. This season,they finished last in the AL East division,and managed to finish the season with a record of 55-106. Their manager was Hal McRae who entered his 1st full season and last season with the Devil Rays.
Ryan Wayne Jorgensen is a former Major League Baseball catcher. He attended Kingwood High School and Louisiana State University.
Robert Edgar Brodhead was an American gridiron football player,executive,and college athletics administrator. He was the athletic director at Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1982 to 1987. He is also the author of Sacked! The Dark Side of Sports at Louisiana State University (ISBN 0-9446790-0-5)
Wilburn Edward "Eddy" Furniss III is an American retired professional baseball first baseman and designated hitter. A standout college baseball player for Louisiana State University (LSU),Furniss has been inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame,the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame,and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He is the 10th athlete,and 2nd baseball player,in LSU history to have his number retired.
The Baton Rouge Red Sticks was a primary name of the minor league baseball teams based in Baton Rouge,Louisiana in various seasons between 1902 and 1976. The Baton Rouge minor league teams played as members of the Cotton States League,Dixie League (1933),East Dixie League (1934),Evangeline League (1946–1957) and Gulf States League (1976).
Toe Nash’s life was tumultuous. He stopped going to school in the eighth grade. He worked odd jobs. When he could, he played baseball, sometimes on a former cow pasture. He hopes the Rays are his way to a better life.