KOSSUTH — Kossuth High School lost a treasure on Tuesday.
In fact, high school baseball lost one of its best.
Former Aggies head baseball coach Daniel Threadgill passed away around 1 p.m. after a two-year battle with colon cancer. He was 41.
Threadgill raised the bar high at KHS, leading Kossuth to the first of three class 3A state championships on the diamond in 2013. They followed that title with two more over the next three years, winning it all in 2014 and 2016.
But for Threadgill it wasn’t all about baseball, although he loved the sport and received immense joy from sharing baseball stories with coaching colleagues and friends.
The former KHS coach placed as his top priorities serving God and making the world a better place.
“Me and coach (Kevin) Williams and coach Basil from East Union went to see Daniel about a month ago and he just lit up when we walked in because he loved people, especially other coaches that he had close relationships with,” said former Corinth head coach Rob Scarbrough. “We spent two or three hours with him just laughing and sharing baseball stories. But we also talked about life and what he wanted for his players to learn. He was passionate about the game but was even more so with coaching young men up and teaching them life lessons through baseball. He wanted them to be good people and lead productive lives after they were done with baseball.”
Little did coaches Scar, Williams and Basil realize that would be the last time they would see Threadgill this side of eternity.
“We all knew it was coming but you’re never ready when it actually happens,” said Scarbrough. “It’s just hard to let them go, especially when you’re so close to them.”
The late coach’s best friend, former coach and MLB scout, Matt Addison was grief-stricken as one would imagine. But he turned his thoughts to the many fond memories he will always carry with him of Threadgill.
“Daniel and I met in 2007 when I took the head coaching job at Nettleton,” said Addison. “He was already on staff as an assistant and we immediately hit it off. It was a nervous time for me because it was my first head coaching job. I was just a city kid, originally from Jackson (Miss.) coming to a small northeast Mississippi town. But he set me at ease right away. We were so similar in so many ways … probably the reason we became close friends. We were together a couple of years at Nettleton before I left for a college coaching position. He eventually ended up at Kossuth and, even though we were far apart, our relationship continued to grow.”
He was my best friend and right now I’m devastated,” he continued. “But knowing how fierce of a Christian man he was I have no doubt where he is now. Nobody outside my family meant more to me than Daniel Threadgill.”
Speaking to his best friend’s coaching ability and talents, Addison added, “With his ability to relate to his players and motivate them to do great things, not just on the field but also in life, Daniel could have succeeded at any level in baseball and I told him so many times. I’ve been fortunate over my tenure as a baseball coach and scout to know some top-flight motivators and he is in my top two. I mean that sincerely. He was the best motivator I’ve ever seen.”
Addison shared his most special moment with Threadgill – and it happened this past spring.
“Kossuth was playing at Booneville and Daniel called me and asked if I could come up, sit in the dugout with him, and coach a game with him one last time. He knew it wasn’t going to be long until he was gone, but he owned it and made the best of it. The visitor’s dugout has two or three chair back seats in the front of the dugout and we just sat there the whole game talking about the game and old times. If I hadn’t come for that game I would have missed that opportunity and would have regretted it the rest of my life,” said Addison.
Former Booneville, and current Corinth, head coach Kevin Williams had the privileged of coaching against his friend many times as their teams were in the same division.
“He (Threadgill) was a genuine man that loved his kids, his wife, and his players. I always enjoyed coaching against him. He was a very loving man and impacted the lives of many people for the better. He was extremely competitive and always taught his players, win or lose, to be gracious. His teams always pitched well and were relentless. They played hard to the last pitch,” said Williams.
Northeast Community College baseball coach Rich Harrelson, who coached many of Threadgill’s former players, said, “I can’t begin to imagine what he went through or what his family is going through now. I do know that every coach I’ve ever spoken with about coach Threadgill really loved and respected him. I know he loved his players and his family. He will absolutely be missed around here.”
Kossuth assistant coach Creighton Nelms, speaking on his Facebook page Tuesday, echoed the words that Threadgilled voiced before he passed away.
“These past two years coaching with Daniel – he was fighting to gain moments with his family, with players and with coaches as well as in the locker room, in the dugout and on game days,” he recalled. “He loved to tell me about his wife Anna and his kids Blakely, Skylar, and Easton. I could go on but the most memorable thing he ever said and would talk about was ‘This situation is a win-win for me. Either I’m here with my family and coaching baseball or I’m walking the streets of Gold with Christ’.”
A Celebration of Life service for coach Daniel Threadgill is set for Friday at 11 a.m. Friday at Holly Baptist Church. Visitation will be held Thursday from 4 until 8 p.m. at the church.