Let the reign begin
Blue Crabs’ Nelson becomes Atlantic League’s hit king
While much of the baseball world has spent this season focused on Ichiro Suzuki’s pursuit of 3,000 hits in Major League Baseball with the Miami Marlins, Bryant Nelson of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs has been toiling away in quest to reach a milestone of his own.
Nelson completed his journey a bit before Suzuki, as the Blue Crabs third baseman’s two-out single to deep center field, on the second pitch of the at-bat, in the bottom of the first inning, of Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader versus the Lancaster Barnstormers at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium was good for his 1,053rd hit, establishing Nelson as the Atlantic League’s all-time hits leader.
Nelson, made his Atlantic League debut in 2006, surpassed the former record, which had been held by Somerset’s Jeff Nettles.
After going 0 for 4 at the plate in a 4-0 loss to the Barnstormers in Tuesday’s series opener, the switch-hitting Nelson finished the opener 2 for 3 with a double. He added a first-inning single in Game 2 to stand at 1,055 hits entering Thursday’s series finale with the Barnstomers. “It is really cool to finally break the record and to get all the support from the team, managers, fans and other teams from around the league was great,” said Nelson after Wednesday’s Game 1 victory. Lancaster won Game 2, 4-0, to gain a split in the doubleheader. “Everyone genuinely wanted me to do this and it feels good that they have my back and support while playing the game of baseball.”
Nelson hit the 1,000 career hit plateau on June 2 against Somerset and knew from there that eventually he would soon break the mark.
“My goal in life when I became a switch hitter was to beat [former Major Leaguer] Pete Rose, but the majors didn’t work out for me,” he said. “When you play you have to play hard no matter where you are. You can’t control where you are. I’m just thankful to be in the position that I’m in and I’ve enjoyed playing
in this league.”
Nelson, who has bounced around the Atlantic League for 11 years with several teams, was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft out of Texarkana College (Texas) and made his major league debut with the Boston Red Sox on May 14, 2002, playing in 25 games that season.
Nelson, 42, a native of Crossett, Ark., made his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport in 2006, and he has since played with the Long Island Ducks (2007-2008, 2012-2013), the Camden Riversharks (2009, 2014), the Lancaster Barnstormers (2010, 2015), and the York Revolution (2011, 2014) before coming to Southern Maryland later last season.
“Nelly shows up at the ballpark every day to get better, to compete and find ways to get better and that is what he is, a winner,” Blue Crabs manager Jeremy Owens said. “I couldn’t be more happier for him, he deserves it. He had a rough day yesterday, but bounced back and had two hits [in Game 1 on Wednesday]. It is just a testament to the type of player that he is. He’s a smart hitter and doesn’t ever panic and he is just a great leader in the clubhouse.”
Among many of his Blue Crabs teammates, first baseman Zach Wilson enjoyed the moment of Nelson reaching the special mark in the league’s hit department.
“It was awesome. We’ve been watching him climb up the leader board the entire time,” Wilson said. “I know it really means a lot to him and it is fun watching a teammate reach a milestone like that.”
Nelson is also among the all-time league leaders in at-bats (3,796, first), games played (970, second), doubles (199, third), RBIs (503, fifth) and runs scored (488, seventh).
“I believe I speak for the entire Blue Crabs’ organization, the Atlantic League, former teammates, and former coaches when I express how proud I am of Bryant,” added Owens in a Blue Crabs news release. “His hard work, determination, and leadership is something that all players should aspire to reach.”
Blue Crabs third baseman Bryant Nelson surpassed Somerset’s Jeff Nettles to become the Atlantic League’s all-time hits leader with a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning of Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Lancaster in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. Nelson went 2 for 3 in the contest and added another hit in Game 2 to reach 1,055 hits through entering Thursday’s play.