The first line of Cody Thomas’ Twitter bio reads: “Too blessed to be stressed.”
True to form, the Oklahoma quarterback-turned-Tulsa Drillers right fielder chilled out on the ONEOK Field concourse Tuesday evening, easing back into a folding chair, signing baseballs, posters and T-shirts for fans at the Texas League All-Star Game, talking about his past and present
“Yeah, I miss it now and then,” Thomas said of his 2013-15 stint with the Sooners. “Definitely during the season, Saturdays when the games are on. Last year was, I think, was the last one I could cheer on guys I played with at OU. That was a little harder.
“But when I’m going through this ... I’m so happy in I’m in this position right now.”
Thomas, listed by the Drillers at the same 6-foot-4, 211 pounds that the Sooners did, still cuts an imposing figure. He is tanner than I remember him from those chilly football falls. He sports a full beard that I don’t remember him trying to grow in college.
He seems totally at ease. That could be a product of three years’ more maturity or the fact he no longer has to worry about battling Trevor Knight, Blake Bell, Justice Hansen or Baker Mayfield to win OU’s starting job.
Or — and this is what I prefer — Thomas really loves his job.
“Every minute of it,” he said.
Thomas performed Tuesday night as if to show just that. He swung hard and carefree during his 2½-minute opening round of the home run derby and wound up skying 10 balls over the right-field fence. He supplied the game’s highlight moment with a diving catch in right-center field to rob Amarillo’s Ivan Castillo.
It was a testimonial to Thomas’ promising season. He has 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .279 average, numbers that give him a shot at eclipsing career highs from the past couple years in Class A ball.
Thomas is enjoying Tulsa. It offers a friendlier cost of living than Rancho Cucamonga, California (his 2018 baseball home). It is closer to his native Dallas-Fort Worth area than Midland, Michigan (home in 2017).
He is enjoying the Dodgers organization, stacked as it is and hard as it is for a power-hitting prospect like him to move up the ranks.
“I’m patient,” Thomas said. “I trust the Dodgers and what they do. They’re not going to send anyone up who’s not ready. They’ve been a first-class organization, have treated me so well.”
They let him throw the football.
“Once every two weeks the pitchers will have it out there before we stretch. The ball will inevitably find me,” Thomas said. “They’ll see me out there and we’ll throw it around a little. We just threw it around in Amarillo the other week. I get (the spin) back pretty quick.”
Thomas made his peace with leaving football in January of 2016. That’s when he chose to focus solely on OU baseball after a football career that saw him redshirt one season, start part-time another and barely play as Mayfield’s backup the third.
He doesn’t look back, unless it’s to catch up with old teammates.
“Aaron Colvin had his camp here in Tulsa. I ran into him,” Thomas said. “Zack Sanchez, Gabe Lynn, Corey Nelson, Steven Parker ... I’ve run into a bunch of those guys. I keep up with Baker, Trevor, Blake, all the quarterbacks.”
Thomas keeps up with the Sooners, said he tries to make two to three football games a year. Is it weird going back on game day?
“A little bit,” he said. “We’ll go on the field for most of them. It is a little different not being suited up on the sidelines. But everyone goes through it. You can’t play forever, y’know?”
Not football. But baseball? The 24-year-old Thomas appears to have his career still ahead of him, home runs, diving catches, all-star autographs and all.
At Baker Mayfield's football camp, the former OU quarterback ran a play with Sooner legends Billy Simms and Barry Switzer