Cooperstown has come calling for Christian Thaxton. Why? He broke the league record for batting average at the World Series going 26-29 and an .897 batting average in Florida during July of 2017 (see this article for a true breakdown on that accomplishment). His name is now going to be part of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown forever!
Baseball was in his blood
Christian has had baseball in his blood for most of his life. He lived and breathed baseball growing up in Duncan, Oklahoma. He eventually went on to play Junior College baseball. Sadly, baseball is where he noticed his sight was deteriorating. His favorite pitch to hit used to be the inside fastball. As his sight was declining, he was losing this pitch on the way to home plate. Eventually, his baseball career would come to an end as he battled through LHON (Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy).
Many hitters who love the fastball often see them self in the dirt if the opposing pitcher wants to establish the inside part of the plate. Any good hitter must get off the ground, dust themself off and get back in the box. Christian found himself in the dumps when he was told of his vision loss. However, he picked himself up quickly and dusted himself off and came to Boston to prepare himself for his new life. Baseball was not on his mind at this point, for possibly the first time in his life. Then magic happened.
Thax discovers Beep baseball
At an event at the Carroll Center for the Blind, Christian met two Renegades in Joe Quintanilla and Kara Peters. There he learned of beep baseball and the Association of Blind Citizen’s Boston Renegades. In less than a few weeks, he was taking his hacks at a try-out off coach, Rob Weissman. He just loved the feel of making contact again. He was All-in and he was soon a Boston Renegade.
Thaxton had some adjustments to make as he joined the team late in the spring part of the 2015 season. He made a trip with the team to New Jersey where he played in his first ever beep baseball tournament. He got off to a slow start there going just 3-10. The talent was there. The desire was there. The work ethic was there. Adjustments just needed to be made and he needed to learn the game of beep baseball. Things improved as he went 5-11 a few weeks later at home in Woburn. Then he busted on to the scene at the World Series and in his first year finished 4th in the league in hitting at the Series with a .719 batting average.
In 2016, Thaxton picked up where he left off and he had a chance to play defense for the first time. This time he was 19-25 in Beast of the East action helping his team win the title for the 6th year in a row while he played on both sides of the ball. It got better as his clutch hitting and leadership helped the Renegades get to the championship game in 2016 where he hit .651 at the Series, finishing 4th again in the league.
In the 2016 off season, as we always do on the Renegades, we talked about what the players can do better. There is nothing we can teach Christian about his swing. He knows more about swinging then all of the Renegades combined. We did talk about his mental approach and how to tweak that. The result? He went off in 2017. At one point in the season when things clicked, he scored in 20 consecutive plate appearances including going a perfect 10-10 in front of the hometown fans in Woburn. At the World Series, he continued to make a name for himself in the league. He was scorching hot and went 26-29. Many of these runs came against some of the top defensive teams in the league such as Austin, Colorado, Indy Thunder and the Indy Edge.
It’s official, we had a new record
The league does not have an official database of statistics. So after a few weeks of the World Series, Coach Rob did some research, made some calls and found out Thaxton had broken a record which had stood since 1996 by John Parker of the Kansas All-stars. John Parker was kind enough to confirm he had held the record and even sent Christian a gift passing on the baton and a record that stood since Christian was about three years old.
Once this was determined, Cooperstown was called and alerted of the feat. They were very excited to accept Memorabilia from Thaxton and the Renegades to tell the story of this accomplishment. To prove he had the record, all the scoresheets were collected. They also wanted his bat and a photo of him using the bat. Coach, Lisa Andrews scoured through her photos and found a great shot of him with the bat being used during the last game of the World Series (in fact, all of the photos on this page with him hitting were submitted to the Hall).
The Bat has it’s own story
The funny thing about the bat was it was damaged. We had actually had discussions with Easton about sending it back to them for a review. This bat was used for less than one season and had bent. We found the bend in our last game of the year against the Indy Edge. the bat was warped and the cause was likely a combination of Christians bat speed against the one pound beep ball. For Safety reasons, the bat was thrown out of the last game. Easton did not want the bat…but Cooperstown did.
At the Annual Baseball Hall of Fame Film festival, Coach Rob delivered the bat in person to the hall of fame and gave it to them. It will forever reside in their archives. Both Coach Rob and Christian received certificates for donating the bat, scoresheets and photo. They also received lifetime passes to go to the baseball hall of fame.
An honor for Every Renegade
Not only is this an honor for Christian but there is great pride in this accomplishment from his team. Pitcher, Ron Cochran and Catcher, Rob Weissman were with Christian for every pitch of the World Series. Ron had to lob in the pitch perfectly each time. Weissman was responsible for being consistent with his target. So many of the hitting coaches helped prepare him for the series by helping him take his hacks. Many of his teammates were just so excited for him and this accomplishment. They were excited to have their names on the scorecards enter Cooperstown. It goes beyond that though. Thaxton helps many of the players on the team as he acts as a hitting coach providing feedback and drills for his teammates. His “students” were proud of their “teacher”.
A true success story
Thaxton went from a low of being told he would never play baseball again and that he was legally blind. He picked himself up off the dirt, dusted him self off after being knocked down. He got up, moved to Boston, started a new life and found the Boston Renegades. Not only is his bat in the National Baseball Hall of fame, it’s a feat he would likely never have made if he did not have vision loss. Thaxton is a model for how to handle adversity and concur it. He is a Hall of Famer in so many ways!