Over the weekend I was talking with my friend about minor league baseball. I told him that I was doing blog posts on failed first round prospects, and actually failed prospects in general. He said have you covered Toe Nash yet? I sat in silence as I tried to figure out who was Toe Nash. My friend had told me that back in 2001, he was considered “The Natural” and that Peter Gammons (the lord of baseball himself) called him the next Babe Ruth <link>. Now I follow a lot of baseball and I had never heard of him, so I decided to do some digging to see what I came up with. This beats out Brien Taylor’s story by a mile!
You see back in the early 90s, there was this young boy who just happened to play in front of a scout during a little league game. The scout, Benny Latino, watched as young Greg Nash hit two home runs and struck out 17 of the 21 batters he faced. At that time, Latino said that he was the best little league talent he had ever seen. About 6 years later Latino wondered what ever happened to Nash, having figured that the kid would become a high school legend by now. Then one night he runs into someone from the town taht Nash was from and when Latino enquired into what happened to Nash, he was told that the kid was playing in a semi pro league in the southern Louisiana Can fields.
Turns out Nash never went to high school, he dropped out of school in either the 7th or 8th grade and has been working in the sugar cane fields. However he never gave up his love for baseball and played in a league in Gonzalez, LA. Latino made his way down there to see what the kid could do now that he was all grown up. He was now 6’6″ and about 215 and earned the nickname “Toe” because of his size 18 shoes. Latino watched him pitch as he blazed 95 MPH fastballs past bewildered hitters. Then he came up to bat, and mashed homers from both sides of the plate.
It was past the draft already and Nash was eligible to sign with any team. Latino at the time was working for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and asked the brass to come down to look at the kid. So they came down and watched him perform in disbelief. 350+ foot home runs, 95 MPH fastballs, he was a real natural. They signed him for $30,000 and off he went to Devil Rays traingin camp. In 2001, he was the toast of minor league baseball, the legend had grown and huge things were expected out of him as he played his first professional season in Princeton.
In Princeton he put up very pedestrian numbers. His first season’s statline was 0.240/8/29 in 171 at bats. It was then in 2001 when his career went not only off the rails but down the mountain. That off season he was convicted of statutory rape. He spend 8 months in jail for that, and never really came back. The Devil Rays released him and the Cincinnati Reds signed him. However he continued to get himself arrested time and time again for everything from domestic violence to robbery to marijuana possession charge. The Reds released him in 2003 after he was convicted of battery. I tried to find out more information as to what happened to him, but the trail ends in around 2004.
In 1994 there was a movie called “The Scout”, made by Albert Brooks, Toe Nash’s story reminded me a lot of that movie. For a kid who could have had a made for TV story, it seems very sad to me that it ended way too fast. I find stories like these incredibly interesting. There are several baseball cards of him out there including a few autographed cards. If anyone knows what ever happened to him or if you remember him please leave a comment.
If you have an autographed card of him let me know I’d like to trade for it.