Frank Thomas (thomafr03)

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Frank Joseph Thomas
(The Original, Big Donkey)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Playing in the Minors with the Tallahassee Pirates

Despite a distant leftfield fence in Pittsburgh, Frank Thomas became a proven slugger and three-time All-Star who hit 286 home runs in his career, including over 20 in ten of his sixteen major league seasons. People nowadays tend to call him "The original Frank Thomas" or "The white Frank Thomas" to distinguish him from the player of the same name who came up in the 1990s and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

His best season was 1958 when he was second in the National League in home runs, and fourth in the MVP voting. Ironically, his next best season was with the fledgling and inept New York Mets in 1962, when he hit 34 homers with 95 RBI.

Thomas played on two of the worst teams in major league history. He had 21 at bats while playing in the outfield for the 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates, which finished 42-112. Thomas spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh, losing over 100 games three times. In 1959, one season removed from Thomas's first on a winning team, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. After stints with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Braves, Thomas was traded to the New York Mets before their inaugural 1962 season. He played outfield, third base and first base for the Mets, who finished 40-120 - the worst won/loss mark of the 20th century.

After 16 seasons in the majors, Thomas had played on seven teams that lost more than 100 games and 10 teams that lost more than 90. He was a member of five teams that finished with a better than .500 record, but spent an entire season with only one of those teams - the 1958 Pittsburgh Pirates. From 1959 until his retirement eight years later, he changed uniforms eight times.

He was nicknamed "The Big Donkey" by fellow players, in part for his less-than-stellar people skills, though it should be noted that he studied for the priesthood in the early 1940s.

According to Bill James's win shares, he was the worst fielding third baseman ever - at least among those among the top 300 in innings played at the position. In 1965, he got in a fight with teammate Dick Allen before a game and was sold to the Houston Astros the next day for his actions in starting the fight. This would be the first of many controversies centering around Allen.

According to the similarity scores method, the most similar player to Thomas - as a hitter - was Bobby Thomson.

Famous Last[edit]

Thomas made last putout at the Polo Grounds when it was the venue for the New York Giants, on September 29, 1957.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time NL All-Star (1954, 1955 & 1958)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 9 (1953-1958 & 1960-1962)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1953, 1958 & 1962)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1953 & 1958)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Michael Clair: "Remember Frank Thomas? No, not that one ... These are MLB's greatest same-named doppelgangers",, December 29, 2022. [1]
  • Anthony DiComo: "Original Met Frank Thomas passes away at 93",, January 16, 2023. [2]
  • Mike Fitzpatrick (Associated Press): "Frank Thomas, Pirates star and original Met, dies at 93", Yahoo! News, January 16, 2023. [3]
  • Bob Hurte: "Frank Thomas", in Mel Marmer and Bill Nowlin, eds.: The Year of Blue Snow: The 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 226-230. ISBN 978-1-933599-51-9
  • Frank Thomas (as told to Tom Capezzuto): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, June 1989, pp. 45-48. [4]

Related Sites[edit]