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JERSEY CITY—Former NJCU four-year standout catcher, designated hitter, and left fielder Jonathan Thomas, a May 2005 graduate of the University with a bachelor of arts in English, was named the new head coach of the Gothic Knights baseball program. Thomas will be just the 10th head baseball coach in the 63-year history of the program.

“To coach where you played is probably the ultimate opportunity,” said Thomas. “To give back the knowledge you’ve gained throughout the years at your alma mater is something I am excited about.”

Thomas added “I expect us to play hard and play with intensity—the way I played. I want our team to go out and compete hard against the best competition in the country. If we practice and prepare the way we should and are mentally focused, I think the results will speak for themselves.”

Thomas originally served as NJCU’s assistant coach and hitting instructor in 2008, while also contributing to the program as its first base coach while working with the outfielders.

A five-year professional player from 2004-09, Thomas is former member of the Kansas City Royals organization and veteran of the independent leagues.

Thomas began his professional career on June 24, 2004 when he signed a professional free agent minor league baseball contract with the Royals, becoming at that time the first NJCU player to sign a deal with a major league baseball club since 1984.

That summer, he saw action with the Arizona Royals-1 club in the 8-team Arizona Rookie League. Despite hitting over .300 in spring training in 2005, he was released by the organization, before signing with the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League on September 22, 2005. In his two games with the Bears late that season, Thomas batted .571 (4-7) with three RBIs, two steals, one run, and owned a .667 on-base percentage and .571 slugging rate. Thomas played parts of the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the Bears.

In 2007, he played in The Frontier League. He originally signing  a contract in mid-May 2007 with the Traverse City Beach Bums (Traverse City, MI) and batted .279 in 35 games. He was traded on June 30 to the Chillicothe (OH) Paints.

In 93 games, primarily as a left-handed designated hitter between the two clubs, he batted a combined .265 (83-313) with 54 runs, 43 RBIs, 15 doubles, three triples and four homeruns, while walking 54 times. Thomas had a .386 on-base percentage and .371 slugging rate, and stole 19 times in 25 chances. Overall, he led the club in walks, and ranked second in steals, fifth in RBIs and runs, sixth in hits and eighth in homeruns. He had the fifth highest batting average on the team.

He played the 2008 season with Chillicothe before concluding his professional career with the Yuma Scorpions of the Arizona Winter League in March 2009.

Former head baseball coach Ken Heaton, NJCU’s assistant athletics director, who coached Thomas, said: “Jonathan Thomas possesses the three qualities needed to be a great head baseball coach—care, character and concern. His passion for the program is already evident, as he has secured verbal commitments from several recruits. We are extremely excited to have JT lead our baseball program for years to come.”

Thomas, a two-year team co-captain who began his career at NJCU as a walk-on in 2000, was named Second-Team All-New Jersey Athletic Conference in 2004 for the second time in his career, after also earning All-NJAC Second-Team accolades in 2002 as a sophomore. He was also named to the 2004 Division II/III Second-Team All-State team by the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association.

Thomas finished his career as one of the top all-around offensive players in NJCU history. Thomas left NJCU ranking in the Top five in school history in four major categories, among the Top 10 in 10 areas, and on the Top 20 charts in 14 statistical fields. He finished his career batting .384 (149-for-388) with 97 runs, 61 RBIs, 24 doubles, seven triples, two homeruns, 47 walks, and 43 steals in 48 attempts (.896 success rate).

A June 1999 graduate of St Benedict’s Prep School in Newark, he played four years of varsity baseball for Coach Tony Frey. Thomas was a three-time, First-Team and Second-Team All-Prep selection while playing for the Gray Bees.

“I think any time you become a head coach it’s a big task,” Thomas noted. “It’s something I’m ready for and I’ve been thinking about doing with my life for some time now. I’m just going to take all the things I have learned throughout my years of playing baseball and apply it to make these players better men and ballplayers. If these kids can leave here getting a degree while enjoying their four years of baseball, that’s all I can ask for.”