Bryce Harper famously graduated from Las Vegas (Nev.) High School. Yet despite his ascendant superstardom, Las Vegas never reached the state tournament during his years there.
In fact, it has been nearly 40 years since Las Vegas reached the state tournament … until now. Finally, under the guidance of longtime Las Vegas baseball coach Sam Thomas, the Wildcats earned a berth in the tournament with a 2-0 victory against Basic High School, as chronicled by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
No sooner than Thomas and his charges were heading back after clinching a bid, than the coach received a text from his most famous alum.
“That was one of the best things ever,” Thomas told the Review-Journal.
“He was in Kansas City, going back to the hotel. We laughed, he congratulated me. He wanted me to tell the kids how proud he was of them.”
Reaching the state tournament checks one box for Thomas, though Harper would certainly be quick to reinforce that it can feel plenty empty if you don’t win once you’re there; Harper reached the postseason four times during his time in Washington. All four berths ended in disappointing first round exits.
Thomas will certainly take that to heart, even if he’ll insist on deflecting all praise that comes to him toward his student athletes, just as he once did to Harper and his teammates.
“What we do as a coaching staff is merely make suggestions,” Thomas told the Review-Journal. “I can sit there all day and call the hit and run. If a kid swings and misses and we get thrown out at second, then I’ll take responsibility. Bad call. But if they execute it right, that’s all on them.”