This is tough. It is hard to write something that says goodbye to a great friend and mentor. You have to understand that no one would be reading this, or even seeing it, if it wasn’t for the man I am writing about, Tim Thomas.
Tim Thomas is the man who pulled me into the pro lacrosse world, and brought me from casual fan status to that writer/absolute fanatic. I always loved the game of lacrosse but he gave me a voice in the sport and made me part of the game itself.
Tim encouraged honesty, originality and opinions that many others suppressed. Tim gave me something that is now a huge part of my life. Tim gave me something that now defines who I am, and how a number of people know me. He gave me a shot on radio, on LaxDirt, and in every other way imaginable. He was a true friend, and I will miss him dearly.
I don’t grieve well, but I will do my best to remember Tim the right way. My personality just doesn’t handle loss that well. I try to make light of every situation and try to find the joy in it. This is good and bad, as my mind only brings up only the good memories of people when tragedy happens. However, with Tim, it was different. There really were no bad memories. He and I were introduced doing MLL radio, and right away it was the perfect mix. Off the cuff opinions combined with personal bias and knowledge of the game… instantly I was a fan doing interviews with the greatest players in the world.
Tim Thomas made this happen, and he instantly became my hero.
Here was a guy I’d never met in person allowing me to do things most fans only dream of. He tried to play it off as no big deal but he was as much on cloud nine as I was. This exuberance for the game continued in other places as well. There were many times when Tim was unavailable to do a radio show due to other commitments, so James Boger and I would take over the show and get into a heated debate on a topic. Low and behold Tim would call in. He would go off on a rant because no matter what else he was doing he couldn’t stay away. He had to speak his mind.
I specifically remember James’ first show as I was texting with Tim back and forth off the air. “Where did you find this guy?” I would ask, and Tim would assure me that James was the real deal. James’ comments on Brice Queener will forever be a joke I will remember sharing for 5+ years with Tim.
During the MLL Championship Weekend in 2012, Laxdirt participated in the fan zone, doing a bunch of giveaways and interacting with fans. However the real highlight was the MLL staff pulling us up into the booth to do the play by play because the feed went down and they needed someone to take over. Neither of us had ever called a live game before but when asked, Tim stood up and said “Yep”.
So we ended up calling the 2nd half of the Outlaws monstrous comeback over the Lizards in the Semifinal game. You know the one, where Brendan Mundorf got hurt. Calling a game like that, if only for a half, was an experience both of us relished. Tim loved being in the press box. Much like myself he did his best work live when he didn’t have time to think or plan, but was just reacting to the situation and saying what he thought.
Like most former players turned commentators, Tim loved to watch his old position. He was like a hawk watching face-offs. He would catch guys subtly cheating, or changes in motion to try to combat a technique being used. He always considered it an art and if a face-off guy scored a goal he was sure to point it out that week in his article. I got many a text saying “Bunker just scored, FOGO Goal!!!” from Tim. His Tim’s Takes were never mind blowingly comprehensive, but it was Tim at his purest, reacting to what he saw in a perfectly unfiltered way.
I recently talked to a pro player who told me that Tim always treated him like an All-Star and showed him a tremendous amount of respect. My reply to that was – that is just how Tim was. He loved the game, and the players, but he didn’t just care about how they were on the field. He cared about how you treated fans and interacted with them. It was more important to him that you were a good person than a good player.
Tim was real. He never sugar-coated things, never talked bad about you behind your back. If he spoke highly of you, you deserved it, and if he called you out it was because you let him down either with your play or with you actions. To David Earl, I remember well when Tim criticized you in an article and you shot right back, you were always one of Tim’s favorite players. He hated to call out players he liked and that one stuck with him for a long time.
Tim took a big step away from the game about two years ago to take care of his wife and be a father to growing kids. Giving up doing what he loved to be with the people he loved. And yet, Tim still edited and contributed to Laxdirt as much as he possibly could. Tim kept funding the webpage while passing the torch to Joe Keegan and Myself. When the time came to close down Laxdirt it pained Tim to do so. If his son had not started playing lacrosse (with Tim coaching of course!) I think he would have held on to Laxdirt longer.
With both of us being parents, and no longer having the website connecting us, Tim and I grew apart some as time moved on. We still commonly exchanged text during games and I gave him a hard time when his beloved Browns continued to be awful.
So now as I reflect back on the time I knew Tim, I smile a lot at memories that pass through my mind quickly. I think of the radio shows and laugh wishing I could dig up the broadcast and hear the interviews. I think of meeting him in the airport for the first time and him insisting I stay at his house despite not having ever met in person. I think of that million dollar smile that was both soulful and mischievous at the same time.
Few people in this world love the MLL the way Tim did. He loved the players, he loved the Boston Cannons, loved to interact with fans. I hope when my time is up people think of me the same way I think of Tim. I will miss my friend every time I watch a lacrosse face-off and think of him every time a player makes a bonehead play that he would have eaten up. Being friends with Tim made me who I am today. My life was literally changed by his presence, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Please consider supporting the Tim Thomas Memorial Fund in his honor.