STROHECKER: Thurman leaves lasting legacy with York Revolution
Often, when you spend enough time in one place, it becomes part of who you are.
It can happen if you go away for college, have to move for a new job or if it's simply just your hometown. Regardless of the reason, you resonate with the people in the community and they resonate with you. You become as much a part of the city as the city becomes a part of you.
That's what happened with Corey Thurman, a man born in Augusta, Georgia, but through the constant moving pieces of professional baseball, wound up in York, a small town in southcentral Pennsylvania that can get lost in the shadows of much bigger cities in the region, such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Thurman, however, fell in love with the place and the place did the same with him. He spent seven full seasons with the York Revolution from 2008 through 2014. This year, 2015, was set to be his eighth. But, a rough start to the beginning of this season and the approaching June 1 deadline, when rosters must be trimmed to 25 players, brought the business side of the game into play and led to Thurman's release from the organization on Monday.
"I've been doing this for a long time and that's one of the hardest releases I've ever had to do," York manager Mark Mason said after Sunday night's 5-4 win over Somerset. "Corey and I are very close and we've been close for the past five-plus years. It was emotional in here for both of us."
Phone calls made to Thurman were not returned.
In five starts this year, Thurman, 36, was 1-3 with an 8.23 earned-run average, the worst of any Revs' pitcher to throw at least one full inning. But he was also hardly the only scapegoat for a team that entered the year with so much promise and is off to an 11-19 record.
Professional career: After being drafted in the fourth round of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft by the Kansas City Royals, Thurman gradually worked his way up the organizational ladder before being selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays for the 2002 season. It was that season that he finally made his big league debut for the Blue Jays. He reached the majors again in 2003. In the majors, he accumulated a 3-4 record with a 4.75 ERA, with 67 strikeouts in 49 career appearances.
While he reached the pinnacle of the sport by the time he was 24, his time after making it to the big leagues was spent jumping from organization to organization in the minor leagues. Finally, after the 2007 season, which he spent with Class AA Huntsville in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, he didn't catch on with an affiliated minor league team.
Time in York: Thurman then signed with York of the independent Atlantic League for the 2008 season and, you could say, the rest was history.
With the Revs, Thurman enjoyed some of his most successful years as a pro player. By his third season with the club in 2010, he helped lead York to its first-ever Atlantic League title. Then, in 2011, he was lights out in helping the club win the crown again.
Between the 2011-12 seasons, Thurman accumulated a 27-6 record and 190 strikeouts in 52 starts. In his seven full seasons, only once did he have a losing record, in 2013, when he went 4-14.
With his release, he finishes as the Revs' longest-tenured player and at 66-50, he owns the club record for wins. He also ranks first in York history in starts (180), innings pitched (980 1/3), strikeouts (667) and quality starts (60). He also ranks first in Atlantic League history for most wins with one team, while sitting in second place in league history in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched. He's only eight wins shy of the league record of 74 wins.
York is his home: To calculate Thurman's impact on the area simply based off of stats, however, doesn't do it justice.
He calls York his year-round home, where he lives with his wife Angela, who's from the area and raises their daughter, Ella. On top of that, he wasn't just someone who showed his face at Santander Stadium. He was a regular in conducting pitching clinics and participating in York Revolution High School Basketball Nights.
"He's special to the community and the organization," Mason said. "He's a fan favorite and a he's a favorite of his teammates."
In terms of what's next for Thurman, his options are limited. As a free agent, he's available to sign with any team, but at 36 years old and with the numbers he's put up over the last two-plus seasons, he's not garnering a whole lot of attention. As for a job within the organization, Mason said that there aren't any available coaching positions open for him and any other personnel job would have to go through the front office. Mason did mention that he could've gotten Thurman a pro pitching coaching position elsewhere through a contact he has inside baseball circles, but Thurman didn't seem interested in it.
Thurman's lasting impact in York could be felt all around, with fans sharing their memories and thanking him for his service to the Revs on social media.
In the end, however, it was a business decision that Mason and the organization had to make.
"I have players out there that deserve to be here at this point," Mason said. "And because of the roster limitations, it was just a move that had to be made, unfortunately."