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Monday, January 16, 2023

Frank Thomas, three-time MLB All-Star for Pirates in 1950s, dies at 93

The New York Mets announced on Monday that longtime big-league outfielder Frank Thomas had died at age 93. This Thomas, not to be confused with Hall of Famer Frank Thomas who played for the Chicago White Sox during the 1990s, played in parts of 16 seasons, stretching from 1951-66.

Thomas suited up for seven teams during his career, including an eight-year stint as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also an original member of the Mets, having been acquired from the Milwaukee Braves prior to their inaugural season. Thomas also saw action with the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and the Houston Astros.

Thomas received Most Valuable Player Award consideration on five occasions, though he finished higher than 10th in balloting just once—in 1958, when he topped out at fourth, behind Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and Henry Aaron. Thomas made three All-Star Games during his day: 1954, 1955, and 1958.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 16, 2023 at 08:17 PM | 40 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries

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   1. lipixi Posted: January 16, 2023 at 08:58 PM (#6113395)
Thanks! Congratulations Thomas is one of the brightest players in baseball. retro bowl unblocked is a sport we also love
   2. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: January 16, 2023 at 09:20 PM (#6113397)
Thomas attended last year's Old Timers Day event at Citi Field. RIP.
   3. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 16, 2023 at 09:25 PM (#6113398)
when he topped out at fourth, behind Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and Henry Aaron.

nothing is more frustrating then losing out to some has beens and no hopers no one has ever heard of......
   4. baxter Posted: January 16, 2023 at 09:28 PM (#6113399)
He had the NYM single season HR record for 13 seasons; 34 from '62 until kong passed him in '75
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 16, 2023 at 09:29 PM (#6113400)
   6. sanny manguillen Posted: January 16, 2023 at 10:01 PM (#6113403)

Thomas was from Pittsburgh, and his trade apparently set off a firestorm against Joe L. Brown, the Pirates young GM. Thomas proved to be an old 30, though, while the trade brought three important players for the 1960 championship team to Pittsburgh - Smokey Burgess, Don Hoak, and Harvey Haddix.
   7. JimMusComp misses old primer... Posted: January 16, 2023 at 11:31 PM (#6113421)
The bots on this site are hilarious. There are like 30 people left here - going to literally ANY other website would get them more clicks.
   8. Cris E Posted: January 17, 2023 at 12:05 AM (#6113424)
My mind can be a jumbled place. I could never keep Frank Howard and Frank Thomas straight back when we were doing a 1960s replay, and the fact that the recent Frank shared a size with one and a name with the other just made things worse. Just a lot of 1950s sounding first names with baseballs flying all over the place. Ah well, 93 is a good long life and he got to do some cool stuff. RIP.

(I want to believe that the 80s football video game spam was drawn here by Auburn tight end Frank Thomas, but I am just going assume they were lucky.)
   9. AndrewJ Posted: January 17, 2023 at 08:19 AM (#6113437)
From 9/26/1998 until the start of the '99 season, the Frank Thomases were tied with 286 career home runs. #TheMoreYouKnow
   10. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 17, 2023 at 09:14 AM (#6113441)
Did he and Dick Allen ever make up?
   11. jingoist Posted: January 17, 2023 at 11:44 AM (#6113452)
Not many guys left from those mid-50’s Pirate teams.
Dick Groat, Vern Law and Bob Skinner are still hanging in there; all in their 90’s now.
Frank was a left side of the field guy, manning 3rd or LF.
For the 1956 season, Skinner took over LF and Frank played mostly at 3rd until he was traded after 1958.
1956 was the year we got out of the cellar and began to assemble the team that won in 1960.
As Sanny said above, Franks trade to the Reds brought us many players that contributed enormously to 1960.
   12. Dag Nabbit at Posted: January 17, 2023 at 01:42 PM (#6113466)
Going by Bill James's original Win Shares book...

The worst defensive first baseman of all time (measured in Fielding Win Shares by 1,000 innings):
A guy named Frank Thomas

The worst defensive third baseman of all time (measured in Fielding Win Shares by 1,000 innings):
A guy named Frank Thomas
   13. jingoist Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:04 PM (#6113469)
Frank Thomas bookends.
As a 12 year old I loved Frank’s HRs as outside of Dale Long only Frank had Forbes field HR power.
Funny thing, the recently deceased Frank Thomas played some 1b for several teams.
   14. GregD Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:18 PM (#6113473)
Did he and Dick Allen ever make up?

Is the consensus on this 1) Thomas a racist, 2) Thomas an ####### vet and Allen an unusually sensitive young player, 3) Allen quick temper, 4) something else?

I've always assumed #1 with maybe some shade of #2, but am open.
   15. philphan Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:28 PM (#6113474)
Frank Thomas was always the punchline in Richie Ashburn’s oft-told “Yo La Tengo” story. I was greatly saddened to read in the past year that Thomas vehemently denied that the incident ever took place. But, as a wise philosopher once remarked, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
   16. Traderdave Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:31 PM (#6113476)
Not many guys left from those mid-50’s Pirate teams.

Is Elroy Face still vertical?
   17. bachslunch Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:38 PM (#6113478)
Assuming what I saw online is correct, Elroy Face is still alive at 94.
   18. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 17, 2023 at 02:58 PM (#6113481)
After the 1959 season, the Phillies decided to part ways with beloved center fielder Richie Ashburn. Whitey was shipped to the Cubs for 3 players. After a couple of years in Chicago, he was picked up by the expansion Mets, and spent his final season (1962) in baseball purgatory. The worst team of the modern era, the Mets went 40-120 that season, and the whole year was little more than a running collection of blunders, errors, and losses.

One constant source of Keystone Cop mishaps was the lack of communication between Ashburn, playing center, and the Mets shortstop, a Venezuelan named Elio Chacon. Chacon didn’t speak English, so when Richie would yell “I got it! I got it!” Chacon would keep chasing after the ball and the two would inevitably collide, allowing the ball to fall harmlessly to earth. Finally, the team’s right fielder Joe Christopher, who was bilingual, suggested that instead of yelling, “I got it!”, Richie should yell “Yo La Tengo!” to ward off the shortstop. Ashburn and the young shortstop agreed on it, and sure enough a few games later, a pop fly went into left center, between Ashburn and Chacon. “Yo La Tengo! Yo La Tengo!” shouted Whitey. Chacon stopped in his tracks. Whitey reached his glove up to make the catch…and got plowed over by Mets left fielder Frank Thomas, who didn’t speak Spanish. Whitey and Frank fell to the ground, and the ball landed between them. As they got up to collect themselves, Howard turned to Ashburn and said, “What the heck is a yellow tango?”
   19. Der-K's tired of these fruits from poisoned trees Posted: January 17, 2023 at 03:02 PM (#6113482)
Absolutely wanna start a YLT cover band called Yellow Tango now.
   20. Obo Posted: January 17, 2023 at 03:13 PM (#6113484)
Call me crazy but I think any player can learn "I've got it!" in the native language of whatever country they're playing in, in about 5 seconds. Especially after the first near collision.
   21. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 17, 2023 at 03:57 PM (#6113493)
I'm guessing that story is apocryphal, but it was one of my favorites I heard a few times growing up.
   22. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 17, 2023 at 06:27 PM (#6113517)
Thomas got to be the Oldest Living Met for eight weeks. The title now passes to Roger Craig. Willie Mays, who I think has been the Oldest Living Met Who Wasn't On The '62 Mets for a while now, is now second to the throne.
   23. alilisd Posted: January 17, 2023 at 07:24 PM (#6113523)
Assuming what I saw online is correct, Elroy Face is still alive at 94.

Billy Ripken would like a word.
   24. sanny manguillen Posted: January 17, 2023 at 07:32 PM (#6113525)
Maz is still around, too. There's a lot of very old ex-Pirates around right now because Branch Rickey cleaned house in the early 50s and replaced them with very young kids.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: January 18, 2023 at 01:45 PM (#6113583)
Clemente would still be just 88.
   26. Karl from NY Posted: January 18, 2023 at 02:49 PM (#6113592)
Every time there's a story about some old Met, I have to look up Ed Kranepool. He's still been alive every time, and in fact he's only 78 even now.
   27. donlock Posted: January 18, 2023 at 04:22 PM (#6113597)
A story from the early Mets . Casey Stengel was made aware of the large families his outfield of Richie Ashburn, Gus Bell and Frank Thomas had sired. He said , “We may not be getting better but we are be-getting better.” Could be true or made up by smart Alec NY sportswriters. A funny line, in any Case.
   28. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 18, 2023 at 04:29 PM (#6113599)
Every time there's a story about some old Met, I have to look up Ed Kranepool. He's still been alive every time, and in fact he's only 78 even now.

I met Ed Kranepool and got his autograph when I was a kid in the late 80s. Looking back I can't believe he was only in his mid-40s then. He had retired before I was born, after a long career. I didn't realize he came up at age 17 so was only 34 when he retired.
   29. donlock Posted: January 19, 2023 at 01:20 AM (#6113626)
#18 - Who is “Howsrd” in this anecdote and the link?
   30. baxter Posted: January 19, 2023 at 01:58 AM (#6113628)
29 typo possibly referring to frank thomas as frank howard, who is still kicking at 86; had a couple great nicknames hondo and capital punisher
   31. donlock Posted: January 19, 2023 at 01:50 PM (#6113659)
30 - I typoed myself complaining about it. I think Howard Johnson and Frank Howard both were with the Mets but at different times for this story?
The typeface on this site is just so tiny on a phone or laptop.
   32. Perry Posted: January 19, 2023 at 04:13 PM (#6113681)
I first read the "Yo la Tengo" story in Angell's The Summer Game. I think it was in one of his very first New Yorker baseball pieces.
   33. baxter Posted: January 20, 2023 at 12:16 AM (#6113722)
31 HoJo and Hondo each played for Detroit at different times (their playing careers did not overlap); I don't think Hondo ever played for the mets (LA, Wash/Tx, detroit), but he did manage them. I don't remember whether Hondo managed Hojo. I would like to hear Bill Saluga talk HoJo vs. Hondo
   34. Walt Davis Posted: January 20, 2023 at 02:17 PM (#6113762)
With Robinson, Howard, the two Thomases and arguably Baker, the all-Frank team is gonna hit. I think we're gonna have no choice but to put Franklin "Death to all Flying Things" Gutierrez in CF whether he's an official Frank or not. We clearly don't care about defense so I guess Frisch moves to SS for a White/Catallanatto offense/defense platoon at 2B. Frank Chance at C, why not? On the mound, Viola, Tanana and Lary (never heard of him but pretty good) is a solid start.

If we decide not to count John Franklin (Frank) "Home Run" Baker then we can put Frank Malzone at 3B I guess. I bring this up because ... is this guy the least-deserving 6-time AS ever? A mediocre hitter but big RBI guy for the Red Sox, he was a smidgen above-avverage for his career. It's not like a guy who has a big year or two out of nowhere, he was mediocre every year ... and made it 6 times. I know, a small league for most of his career and I'll assume AL 3B was pathetic at the time.

I guess that was it. In 1957, Malzone was the only full-time starting 3B in the AL, Eddie Yost the only other one even over 400 PA. In 1958, Cleveland used 12 different guys at 3B, nobody getting more than 163 PA (Vic Power). Again Malzone (659 PA) was the only guy even over 500 although the rookie Brooks Robinson came close.
   35. Itchy Row Posted: January 20, 2023 at 02:32 PM (#6113764)
Malzone had big first halfs his first two all-star years, which were also his first two full years: 327/369/462 in 1957 and 304/354/424 in 1958. After that he was probably always thought of as "All Star Frank Malzone."

The only thing I know about Frank Lary is that he was the Yankee Killer. He went 28-13 against them during the Mantle years and 100-103 against everybody else.
   36. Howie Menckel Posted: January 20, 2023 at 03:01 PM (#6113769)
I think Howard Johnson and Frank Howard both were with the Mets but at different times for this story?

HoJo and Hondo were player and coach together for Mets, 1989 and 1991-93.

I have a good Hondo encounter story (and a couple of ok HoJo ones), but other BBTFers have posted even better Hondo stories (one takes place on Amtrak).

if we live long enough, we'll post 'em again at the proper times...
   37. sanny manguillen Posted: January 21, 2023 at 06:58 PM (#6113864)
Sal Bando passes at 78. BB-Ref has recorded 95 deaths for 2022, just below the pre-pandemic annual number. Bando makes nine deaths in 21 days of 2023.
   38. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2023 at 05:06 PM (#6113949)
If we're talking baseball demographics, expansion greatly increased the number of MLB players and those guys are reaching high-mortality ages. So mortality counts are going to be going up. Steve Renko was a rookie on the 69 Expos -- he turned 78 a month ago. Bob Sprout was born 2 days before Pearl Harbor and was 19 when he pitched his only 4 ML innings for the 61 Angels ... still kicking at 81 per b-r. If he'd been borm just a couple of years earlier, he probably never makes the majors.

Give or take, in 2022, there seem to have been 1400+ players in MLB including (wow!?) 303 debuts -- from CJ Abrams to Aneurys Zabala. In 1969, it looks like 800-850 players with 183 debuts (Doug Adams to Bill Zane). In 1955, it looks like 550-600 players with 132 debuts (Ted Abernathy to Floyd Woodbridge). The debut percantages are closer than I expected given bullpen expansion and roster churn.

(# plsyers not exact the q&d way I did it because some would have played for multiple teams plus I'm not sure they always pick up pitchers in the batters table.)
   39. kthejoker Posted: January 22, 2023 at 05:29 PM (#6113957)
To the all-Frank team you can add Francises Lefty O'Doul and Spec Shea, and Tug "Frank" McGraw
   40. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 22, 2023 at 08:53 PM (#6113978)
(Doug Adams to Bill Zane)

Bill Zepp - Bill Zane is an actor.

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