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Rays uncover a possible Louisiana gem: an 18-year-old grade-school dropout who throws hard, hits with power.
By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 13, 2001
The Devil Rays may have found a real life Sidd Finch in the swamps of Louisiana.
Finch was a fictional character with extraordinary baseball skills invented in the mid-1980s by Sports Illustrated. Toe Nash is a strapping 18-year-old who supposedly can throw the ball 93-95 mph and hit 400-plus-foot home runs from either side of the plate.
Nash's story, chronicled by ESPN.com's Peter Gammons, is remarkable. He quit school after the seventh grade to work with relatives in the sugar cane fields, lives in a trailer and plays only in what is basically a couple-nights-a-week amateur league.
Scout Benny Latino tracked down Nash, the nephew of former NBA star John "Hot Rod" Williams, after remembering him from his Little League days, and the Rays signed him last summer and brought him to the fall instructional league.
Nash, 6 feet 6 and 215 pounds, is scheduled to report to spring training in March and, depending on his development, could play for one of the minor-league teams this summer.
Whether Nash, who is called Toe because of his size 18 feet, will live up to the hype that will precede him remains to be seen. The Rays have gotten calls from people wanting to write a book about him.
"It's all right in line; it's all there," Rays scouting director Dan Jennings said Friday. "He's got the baseball tools. He's yet to refine his baseball skills."
WHO: Greg "Toe" Nash.
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6-6, 215.
HOME: Gonzales, La.
SHOE SIZE: 18.
UNCLE: Former NBA player John "Hot Rod" Williams.