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By: Anna Dunlavey; @annadunlavey
Most players come to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League to play summer baseball knowing no one. They may have a teammate that they know from college or from travel baseball, but for the most part, they’re playing with a group that they’ve never played with before.
Luckily, for four of this year’s DC Grays, this was not the case. Kane Hassan (St. Mary’s), Aaron Inman (Loyola New Orleans), Drew Reid (Harvard) and Harry Thomas (UNC Greensboro) played in various baseball programs together while growing up, and are all reunited this year on the Grays.
All four players began their baseball careers in Little League at the age of five or six, but they didn’t meet and play together until they were a little bit older. Thomas said that it was initially difficult to find teams in the DC area, but that “over time, baseball became more fluid in DC. Things came together, and I met more local guys,” he said.
Hassan and Thomas were the first to meet, through a team called Swing Away. Hassan and Inman played together on the Woodridge Warriors. Reid was last to join the group – moving to the DC area from Massachusetts at age 14. He met Inman at his first DC Dynasty practice that year. Reid and Inman also worked together at Home Run Baseball camps in the DC area. The two of them met Thomas through DC Dynasty, and through RBI travel teams — Reid and Thomas even roomed together for the national RBI tournament one year in Jupiter, Florida.
Their lives intersected through high school as well. Hassan and Thomas both went to St. John’s College High School in the District, and played together there. Hassan transferred to the Maret School in the District in his junior year, where he met Reid, a senior there at the time. They played together for one year. Even when they weren’t playing together, the teammates still kept connected. “We did kind of separate a bit in high school,” Inman said, but added “Social media makes it so much easier to keep track of everybody.”
Reid and Thomas both played their first season for the Grays last year. Hassan and Inman are new to the team this season, but Inman knew about the Grays even before they moved to the Nationals Youth Academy. “I always wanted to play in the Ripken League,” Inman said. “It’s kind of a dream come true.”
Through social media and early looks at the roster, Hassan, Inman, Reid and Thomas all figured out that they would be teammates once again this year. “It definitely feels like we’ve come full circle,” Reid said. “It’s crazy to think how much better we’ve gotten and how much we’ve grown as ballplayers to not only be playing together on this team, but to be playing college baseball at a high level.”
The four players are still just as close, even after a few years apart. They can often be seen hanging out in the dugout, or talking things over together after a game.
“It’s been really fun,” Hassan said. “It’s nice to meet new guys, but it’s also nice to play with guys that I met a long time ago.”
“It feels great,” Inman said of playing with his former teammates. “It’s a lot different, it’s more serious, but because we know each other and everyone has a better feel for each other, it feels natural.”
“It’s really good to have local guys back on the team,” Thomas said. “We all love this city very much, and it’s awesome to play here, especially with the guys you grew up with.”