Nateshon Thomas, better known as “Shadow”, started playing baseball in 1996 at the age of eight for leisure and to have some fun in his hometown Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
At the time, there were no diamonds or baseball fields in the Virgin Islands and sadly this is still the current state. But as time went by, he developed a strong bond for the game which has kept him grounded throughout the many trials and countless tribulations he has faced to get to this point in his life.
Some may ask, what does it take? How does he really do this for all these years? Shadow decided to make a path and fulfil his journey - which comes with years of hard work, dedication and sleepless nights - but it’s definitely not the end of the road, it’s actually only the beginning.
He remembers coming to the field when his cousins, Ms. Perline Scatliffe and Ms. Maricia Blyden, formed a T-Ball team. After that time, he met Terrence “Chino” Chinnery at the age of twelve (12) who began working with him and constantly encouraging him of a life with baseball involved. Shadow recalls Chino explaining to him, “You have the talent Shadow, and you could probably make it!” From that moment, Chino got in contact with Glen (from St. John) who at the time was a scout with Major League Baseball; they formed a team and took a group of young players from the BVI to the USA.
After a few years of rigorous training with Chino and holding onto his dream of actually being a Major League Baseball player, Shadow continued playing in local leagues (Baseball/Softball) and he was a part of any National or Travel teams for the Virgin Islands (both BVI and USVI).
In 2006, he moved to the Dominican Republic for half of that year, and stated, “Chino saved his personal funds to make this trip possible for me. Just so that I could have the chance to get drafted and signed to a professional baseball team.” Unfortunately, the journey was derailed and didn’t go as planned, and Shadow returned to the BVI and continued training at the E. Walwyn Brewley Ballpark.
In 2007, he was invited by the United States Virgin Islands’ Travel Team to compete in two tournaments in the USA which led to the opportunity in St. Croix, USVI. This moment displayed his ball game to additional fans and scouts. While waiting for any opportunities to present themselves, Shadow decided to return to the BVI and “wait it out” for the additional years.
In the fall of 2007, a scout came specifically to see Jeremy “Chicken” Penn and out of that opportunity Shadow, along with Jamal “Lefty” Allen and Rico Garcia were accepted to attend the Western Oklahoma Junior College on an athletic scholarship for two (2) years.
For the first year, Shadow recalls, “I was red shirt - which meant I was a part of the team but not eligible to actually play on the team. I had to gain more experience and get stronger as a player. This was a great opportunity but at the end of those years, I moved back to the BVI in 2009 to work, as funds became very limited for me. Luckily for me, I was able to play in the Summer Baseball League in Athens Georgia, U.S.A.”
Again, having to move back home to the BVI, Shadow was back to work – putting himself through continuous training and trying to save enough money for his next big move. He was granted a Scholarship in 2011 at Bluefield State College in West Virginia where he remained for one (1) semester before returning to the BVI.
During this time, Shadow created an online Baseball Profile in hopes of being scouted with his previous accomplishments on the field. Until 2015, with the help of Enrico “Jimmy”, he assisted Shadow with his move to Germany, where he resides today.
“I reached out to every team possible and continued waiting and trying to save money by working. I just waited.” Shadow explained. "It was Bad Homeburg Hornets who gave me the opportunity and an offer that changed my life! While I was playing for that team, I reached out to another coach via email which led to this opportunity in 2016 playing with Great Britain.” He excitedly explained.
There were so many leaps and boundaries but that didn’t stop him. He remembered in 2015, he had to start pitching which he had never done in the past. He usually played shortstop and centerfield. But pitching came as a complete surprise! Shadow fondly explained, “The team reached out and everything was all set. But abruptly, their pitcher became injured and that’s the only player they needed at that time. The shortstop position didn’t matter to them anymore. So of course, haven’t ever pitched in my life, I said: I CAN PITCH TOO!” With a small chuckle, “I clarified that what I meant is, this is what I want, so yes, I can pitch.”
Up to this day, Shadow loves what he does and one thing he would like to carry over as he progresses is to encourage others that “if you want to become something in this sport, you must have excellent work ethics. You must have a love for the game and just want to be the best player you could ever be. Because at the end of the day, everything is based on your own growth and you can only continue to excel.”
Throughout the years, the transition has been difficult for Shadow due to a lack of facilities (batting cage, pitching machines, coaching) and learning the game. Overall, it was a difficult transition but playing more games allowed him to increase his knowledge of the sport and become more comfortable as a well-rounded ballplayer. Having the knowledge of softball helped him to transition to baseball very easily and he would encourage persons to become involved. He said, “Just get out there and have fun! Assist and learn the game. It will take you to places you would never imagine.”
He is thankful for the opportunity from the Great Britain Team in Germany as they have provided coaching for every aspect of the game. He said, “These persons are there to teach you every aspect of the game and try to nurture you to become the best player and person you can be.”
Mr. Thomas has played Short Stop, Centerfield, Catcher and has filled in anywhere he could throughout his years of playing. But his preference would most definitely be shortstop because, “I’m always in the game and the position is filled with constant action. But overall, I think I’m a better outfielder than an infielder,” he explained.
In 2021, Shadow was joined by Shamoy “Shrimpy” Christopher, Kennard Dawson and Demoi “Ben Up” Hodge - all from the British Virgin Islands - in the 2021 European Championship in Italy finishing 6th in a pool of 16 teams.
Mr. Thomas would like to encourage all young players to “keep pushing to wherever you want to reach. The opportunity is there. Continue to be around grounded persons and don’t give up. Because I would have never thought I would end up living in Germany. But baseball has changed my life. Whatever sport you enjoy playing, there are opportunities. You can get an education. You can get opportunities. A great example would be Kennard, Shamoy, Rayondre, J’quan and Demoi.”
Shadow currently works in a retail store called Lulu Lemon and coaches the Kids Academy Program ages 9 -13 as he awaits his off-season training.
He lives by the saying “perseverance comes with want! When you want something badly, you’ll be willing to put in that work. Put yourself out there and just let what happens, happen! Don’t give up; give it 100%.”.
He hopes to be back in the BVI helping others along the way to live their dreams through sports and would love to assist in obtaining the necessary training equipment to help persons excel.