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Sioux City North graduate Kyle Thousand leads Roc Nation's baseball department
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BASEBALL

Sioux City North graduate Kyle Thousand leads Roc Nation's baseball department

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Kyle Thousand with C.C. and Amber Sabathia

Sioux City North graduate Kyle Thousand is pictured here with former Major League Baseball pitcher C.C. Sabathia (left) along with Sabathia's wife, Amber Sabathia. Thousand represented C.C. Sabathia as the managing director of baseball at Roc Nation. 

Even in the middle of a pandemic, North High School graduate Kyle Thousand was still hard at work, making sure his clients were ready for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.

Thousand is a 1999 grad from North and earned all-state pitching accolades while playing for the Stars.

Currently, Thousand is the managing director of baseball at Roc Nation, an entertainment agency founded in 2008 by Shawn Carter, better known as the artist Jay-Z.

As the managing director of Roc Nation’s baseball division, Thousand represents 25 professional baseball players, ranging from New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Céspedes to Minnesota Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario.

Kyle Thousand with Robinson Cano

Sioux City North High School graduate Kyle Thousand (left) poses for a photo with New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano, who is one of Thousand's clients at Roc Nation. 

That allows Thousand to attend several ballgames, including when former New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia recorded his 3,000th career strikeout last summer.

However, this spring and summer he’s been limited to phone calls and texts instead of flights and face-to-face interactions.

“It has been just staying in touch with them, and making sure they had everything they needed to stay in shape,” said Thousand in a phone interview last week. “Just a place to work out for pitchers to throw and hitters to hit. It was just making sure they were well taken care of during this time.”

Thousand acknowledged that the players are facing a bit of an unknown, as they’ve started formal workouts and intrasquad games in preparation for the July 23 MLB start of the regular season.

“And, for my guys in particular, over the course of these last few months, it's just making sure everybody's ready to go whenever a season started,” Thousand said.

In terms of how Thousand handled the pandemic, he stayed home with his fiancee, Charissa Thompson, who works for Fox Sports, and read as much as he could to keep his mind fresh.

“It's been a great time for me to make sure that I'm doing whatever I can to better myself, both as a person and as an agent,” Thousand said. “So overall, despite everything else, can't really complain, given the circumstances. I've been an agent for 10 years, and it's certainly a life that I'm accustomed to on the road, but it's given me an opportunity, like I said, to focus on myself, but also have the time with my fiancee, that I wouldn't otherwise have."

Hometown pride

With the Stars, Thousand was a two-time All-Stater.

He played a big role in getting the Stars to the state tournament in Carroll in 1998 and 1999.

Twins Baseball

Minnesota Twins' Eddie Rosario, center, greets fans before a trivia game with fellow teammates at the baseball team's TwinsFest on Jan. 24 in Minneapolis. Sioux City native Kyle Thousand represents Rosario as his agent. 

During his junior year, he made it onto the second team and the following season in 1999, he was an Iowa Newspaper Association first-team pitcher.

According to the Google Iowa High School sports database, Thousand became the first pitcher in North's history to become a first-team recipient.

Even though Thousand wasn’t able to help North bring home a state championship, he was just as happy when the Stars won it all in back-to-back years from 2008 to 2010.

“I always enjoy seeing any athlete, whether at North, or any of the other (Sioux City) schools succeed and move on to play professional sports,” Thousand said. “And, I certainly am well aware of those players, and I think it's great, not only for them, but for the city.”

Thousand tries to keep in touch with his family on a daily basis. Once Thousand got back into baseball as an agent, it allowed for him and his father, Greg Thousand, to communicate about the game more frequently again.

At times, Thousand will wake up to emails from Greg sending updates on his players, from the lower levels of the minors to the guys in the Major Leagues. 

Every time Thousand sees that email from his father who works at McClintock Insurance, a smile comes to his face.

“It gives us something to keep in touch with and talk about,” Thousand said. “When I retired from the game, we kind of lost that aspect of talking about the game when I was a player. Being back in the game as an agent now, it's certainly something that we talk about a lot.”

Thousand said he hasn’t been back since Christmas, but hopes to come back to visit Sioux City before summer’s end.

Mets-Cespedes Swings Baseball

In this file photo shows New York Mets' Yoenis Cespedes, left, following through after hitting a three-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game, in Philadelphia. Cespedes' agent is Sioux City native Kyle Thousand. 

He never has — and never will — forget that he came from the Siouxland and will cherish his hometown, no matter where life takes him.

“I'm proud to have come from a great city like Sioux City,” Thousand said. “My whole family is still there, and I get back a couple of times a year. Sioux City is always going to be a part of me, and I'm proud of my roots."

Looking back

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Hearing how devoted Thousand has been to his clients didn’t surprise former Iowa baseball coach Scott Broghamer in the least. Broghamer saw that on a daily basis while coaching Thousand in Iowa City.

“He was a smart, smart young man,” Broghamer said. “He’s one of those guys who was fun to coach. He played hard and it was nice to see a kid like that be successful. He was very supportive of his teammates. He was that kind of person. He held up what needed to do, and he was very consistent.

“I think that certainly he showed people what a good work ethic was,” Broghamer continued. “He worked hard and practiced hard. It was a real pleasure having him around.”

Thousand played for the Hawkeyes in 2002 and 2003 after transferring from Iowa State. Broghamer was the head coach for Iowa.

Thousand had a career batting average of .335 with the Hawkeyes, hitting six home runs and driving in 45 RBIs in his two seasons.

“I think that when you play on a team that everyone has their job to do, you counted on Kyle, and he did it well,” Broghamer said.

Thousand was the only Hawkeye to be taken in the 2003 draft, as the Blue Jays selected the former Stars all-state honoree in the 26th round.

Thousand played just one season in the Toronto farm system due to injury, but Broghamer believed Thousand got the most out of his career as he could.

“He put it all to good use,” Broghamer said. “I think that is such a numbers game. I think that Kyle played very well and he got everything out of him that he possibly could get. He should have no regrets.”

Thousand’s life after playing

After Thousand hung up the baseball cleats, Thousand was in Chicago starting his law career, which then evolved into his sports management career.

Thousand received his law degree in 2007 from Creighton University School of Law, then he went to the Windy City to work at Katten Muchin Rosenman law firm. 

When Thousand was at Katten Muchin Rosenman, LLP, the recession of 2008 was in full swing. He was eventually laid off, but the Sioux City native wasn’t defeated. He knew bigger and better things were ahead, and he was right.

Thousand joined Excel Sports Management and worked with MLB agent Casey Close, helping Close grow the firm’s baseball division season by season.

Jay-Z took notice of Thousand and hired him to come on to Roc Nation in May 2015. He has been with the firm ever since.

The here and now

Thousand uses his experiences with the Stars, Hawkeyes and his professional baseball experiences to be closer with his clients.

He can speak baseball language with guys like Sabathia and Cespedes.

That, in Broghamer’s opinion, is a huge advantage.

“You know what it’s like to play everyday,” Broghamer said. “Baseball is a long season. There's ups and downs and if you understand that, you can emphasize that with players and talk to them. I think that’s a big plus. I think he’s going to have a long career representing athletes like he has.”

Thousand has been involved helping his clients get lucrative deals, including Cespedes’ four-year, $110 million deal back before the 2017 season.

Cespedes has not played a game in the majors since July 20, 2018 due to injuries, but the National League is experimenting with the designated hitter when the season starts late next week.

That may give Cespedes a chance to grab some additional at-bats. His agent agreed.

“I think he's just excited in general to play this year,” Thousand said. “He's been hurt for awhile now, and he's anxious to get back on the field and prove that he's still the Yoenis Cespedes, that everybody knows him as. And with the DH, it's certainly going to give him some more opportunities to get some more at bats in that lineup.”

Rosario, meanwhile, signed with Roc Nation this offseason. He was slated to make $8.9 million this season after setting career highs in homers (32) and RBIs (109) last summer.

Thousand acknowledged that this season will be unique, and every team has a better shot than usual at a postseason spot.

“With only a 60-game schedule, it's anybody's to win, even a team like the Marlins or Orioles,” Thousand said. “I think those teams are looking at this as an opportunity to actually go out there and compete, and have a chance to make the playoffs. I think you're going to see most teams put out their most competitive rosters, and have a chance to go win a championship.”

Siouxland food (and drink) photos in the Journal this year