For the second year in a row, the South East Idaho Threads traveled down to Pocatello and beat the Gate City Grays 11-6 Monday.
While the Grays are a semi-professional team, the Threads are an all-star team of adult players connected to Southeastern Idaho.
In their inaugural game against the Grays last season, the Threads won by a run.
“Last year, we had high hopes but we didn’t know,” said Threads head coach Ryan Rasmussen. “It’s been a long time since some of these veteran players have competed at that high of a level. We weren’t quite sure of our stamina, speed, all of those things being veteran players.”
Rasmussen said they were more confident going into this year’s game.
“After last year, seeing the level of competition that we had and coming back this year we felt not only like we could compete but we expected it,” Rasmussen said. “I feel like our team was better this year than last year. I have more players to pull from. I feel like it’s not just a one game thing. We’d like to play them more. We’re hoping for two or three more games with them this year. I think we can compete at every single one of them.”
Though the Threads have players ranging in age from 22 all the way up to 40, that doesn’t mean they can’t still play baseball at a high level.
“I think those young bucks, the Grays, are surprised thinking ‘how do these older guys compete,’” Rasmussen said. “Well, (our team) uses their heads. It’s not just about being physically fast or strong. Baseball’s a mental game and I think we win that battle.”
The Threads have players from St. Anthony, Rexburg, Rigby and even Driggs.
Notable players on the team include Matt Lindstrom who played at Ricks College then spent nine years in the MLB and his brother Rob. Madison Head coach Jason Ralph is on the squad as well as is Jon Hemsley who owns The Alley in Rigby.
Eight out of the 12 players on the team played college or some form of professional baseball and a few them played at Ricks College. Another fun wrinkle to Monday’s game was the fact that the Threads played in old Ricks college jerseys. Some of them were the same jerseys they played in years ago, most of them were pretty tight.
Many of the Threads players were recruited from the Southeastern Idaho Amateur Baseball League (SEIABL) where they compete against one another.
Ryan Rasmussen is the head coach of one of the SEIABL teams where he’s gotten to know many of the players now on the Threads.
Rasmussen has coached youth baseball for many years mainly helping out at Sugar-Salem high school but also coached super league, travel baseball and legion baseball.
“I’ve coached Bonneville kids and Skyline kids and Idaho Falls kids. You coach baseball long enough and you just coach anybody and everybody from all over the place.
Rasmussen’s baseball coaching experience means he knows the players and was able to hand pick a SEIBL squad then an amateur Threads team good enough to beat a semi-pro team in back to back season.
For years Rasmussen has had a dream to start a semi-pro team in the Upper Valley. He wants to compete with the Grays and the northern Utah teams in their league.
Rasmussen said that in last years game against the Threads, the Grays broke their home attendance record selling between 1,500 and 2,000 tickets.
“At five bucks a head, there were 1,500-2,000 people there,” Rasmussen said. “2,000 people times five bucks a head that’s a lot of money in a hurry. To make 10,000 bucks for a game in a small venue that’s pretty good.”
Rasmussen said he thinks the Upper Valley could support a semi-pro team.
“It’s a lot about dollars and cents,” Rasmussen said. You’ve got to have money or you can’t sponsor players and have apartments. It’s also about baseball, community; that’s what it’s all about for me. It’s trying to get awareness for the talent of baseball in Southeast Idaho and also for the community to understand that there’s a lot of money and revenue that can be made, generated and shared in the community because of baseball.”
Rasmussen said his team has proven they can compete at a semi-pro level.
“I feel like when we go down and compete and then win, it gets noticed,” Rasmussen said. If we go down and we get beat by 20 runs or 15 runs or ten runs, we’re a laughing stock. It’s like ‘they’re trying to do something they can’t do. But, we’ve gone down twice now and won so I think that this is a legitimate thing.”
Rasmussen said the 12 players he selected for the team weren’t the only players in the area capable of competing on semi-pro team.
“There were more who I wanted to come but they’ve got jobs or they’re out of town working with kids,” Rasmussen said. “Others were injured because we’re old playing in this younger league. It’s not like I got the only 12 good players we’ve got. There’s 20-25 guys.”
Rasmussen feels his Upper Valley team dream could soon come true.
“This is something that can happen,” Rasmussen said. “This is something that will happen. I believe it. I know it. I want it and I think next year we’ll probably join the league with a full team to compete with a full schedule and go to the tournament and see what we can do competing in the Northern Utah league.”