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Tom O'Malley

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Thomas Patrick O'Malley

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Biographical Information[edit]

Tom O'Malley was a major league regular early in his career, then spent 1984-1989 hitting .290 or higher at AAA with only limited glances at the majors. He then played in Japan for six years, batting at least .300 each season. He won two MVP awards, one in AAA and one in Japan. After his playing career ended, he managed in the minors, then coached and scouted in Japan.

1979-1982: Quick climb through the minors[edit]

A 16th-round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 1979 amateur draft, O'Malley debuted professionally with the Great Falls Giants, hitting .244/~.357/.336 in 42 games. Used in a utility role, he played second, short, third and the outfield. In 1980, Tom had a solid year for the Fresno Giants. His .936 fielding percentage led the California League's third basemen and he batted .287/~.362/.395 with 9 triples.

At age 20, Tom was a Texas League All-Star at third base for the Shreveport Captains. He hit .289/~.337/.403 that year. After batting .448/~.505/.677 in 28 games for the 1982 Phoenix Firebirds, the Giants called up O'Malley, moving Darrell Evans to first base to make room for him.

1982-1983: Major league starter[edit]

O'Malley hit .275/.350/.364 for a 101 OPS+ with the 1982 Giants in a fine rookie campaign and seemed poised for a long and good career in the majors. Tom had his only full year in the majors with the 1983 Giants, batting .259/.345/.339 with a 94 OPS+ as the main third baseman. Little did the 22-year-old know that he would never get 200 AB again in The Show.

1984-1989: Minor league star[edit]

Tom only went 3 for 25 with two walks for the 1984 Giants as Joel Youngblood took over at third base. Back in the minors, O'Malley batted a whopping .346/~.440/.447 for Phoenix with 61 walks and only 31 strikeouts in 387 AB. He was third in the Pacific Coast League in average, right ahead of Sid Bream, but missed the league All-Star team in favor of slugger Rick Schu.

On August 31, Tom was traded to the Chicago White Sox for two players to be named later, Mike Trujillo and Pat Adams. With the 1984 White Sox, O'Malley was just 2 for 16 and he was released the next spring.

A week after his release, he was signed by the Detroit Tigers, who assigned him to the Nashville Sounds. With Nashville, he hit .305/~.360/.391 in 33 games. He was then dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for Papo Rosado. Assigned to the Rochester Red Wings, he batted .302/~.398/.527 and was fifth in the International League in average. Called up to Baltimore in September, he went 1 for 14 with a home run for the 1985 Orioles.

O'Malley batted .307/~.419/.481 for Rochester in 1986 and was called back to Baltimore in June. Used regularly over the next couple months, he put up a .254/.317/.320 batting line in 56 games. His lack of power at third base was disappointing - he only homered once.

A free agent once more, Tom hooked up with the Texas Rangers. They sent him to the Oklahoma City 89ers, where his batting line remained similar (.311/~.406/.466, 83 R). In August, he joined the 1987 Rangers, for whom he batted .274/.351/.368 for a 92 OPS+. Still young at 26, he would only reach 100 AB one more time in the major leagues.

In 1988, O'Malley was the AL third baseman in the first AAA All-Star Game. He hit 6th and went 2 for 4 with an error in the AL's 2-1 win. His .955 fielding percentage led American Association third basemen that year and he hit .291/~.366/.408, making the American Association All-Star team at third base. He was 10th in the league in average and led the loop in games (138). Texas then traded him to the Montréal Expos for a player to be named later (Jack Daugherty). He went 7 for 27 with three walks for the 1988 Expos.

Before the 1989 season began, O'Malley was traded for the fourth time in his career, to the New York Mets with Mark Bailey for Steve Frey. Tom hit .295/.380/.445 for the Tidewater Tides and led the International League in both OBP and RBI (84). He was sixth in average and fifth in home runs (15). That earned him the IL MVP award. He was the NL third baseman in the second AAA All-Star Game, hitting 5th and going 1 for 3 with two walks and a RBI in a 8-3 victory.

Joining the 1989 Mets, O'Malley was six for 11 with two doubles.

1990: Last look at the majors[edit]

Still only 29, O'Malley hit .223/.286/.355 in a bench role for the 1990 Mets. He only batted .175/.250/.275 in 44 games in the difficult pinch-hitting role, used primarily against left-handers. He concluded his big-league career with a .256/.329/.340 line in 466 games (a 87 OPS+), a far cry from what he had done at AAA.

1991-1996: Japan[edit]

O'Malley was purchased by the Hanshin Tigers after the 1990 season ended. He debuted with a fine .307/.382/.500 campaign in 1991 with 21 HR. He was 8th in the Central League in average. In 1992, he batted .325/.460/.533 with 30 doubles, 15 homers and 94 walks. He led the CL in walks and OBP and won a Gold Glove at third base. He was second to Jack Howell in batting average. Howell beat him out for the Best Nine nod at third base.

In 1993, Tom hit .329/.427/.567 and led the league in both average (4 points ahead of Bobby Rose) and OBP. He made the CL All-Star team, hit 23 homers, drew 75 walks and drove in 87 runs.

At age 33, the infielder batted .314/.429/.470 with 89 walks (17 intentional). An All-Star again, he led the league in walks (six ahead of Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, intentional walks and OBP. He was sixth in the CL in average. By now, he had moved to first base.

Tom switched teams in 1995, signing with the more successful Yakult Swallows. He hit .302/.429/.570 with 83 runs, 87 RBI, 31 HR and 96 walks (23 intentional). He led the CL in walks for the third time, intentional walks the second time and OBP for the fourth consecutive season. He was 7th in average and third in RBI and homers. He was named to his only Best Nine, won the CL MVP award (the fifth American to do so) and made his third All-Star team. His stardom continued in the postseason - in the 1995 Japan Series, he hit .529/.667/.941 with 2 HR, 4 runs, 4 RBI and seven walks in five games as Yakult won the title, their third. O'Malley was named Japan Series MVP.

In his last season, Tom kept on hitting. He batted .315/.407/.482 with 18 HR, 74 BB and 97 RBI. He was third in the league in walks, only three behind leader Tomoaki Kanemoto, fourth in OBP, fourth in RBI and fifth in average. For the first time in five years, he did not lead the circuit in anything.

Yakult let him go, with manager Katsuya Nomura saying O'Malley's age, declining speed and fielding were the reason for the move.

Overall, he had produced at a .315/.422/.519 clip in Japan.

Post-playing career[edit]

O'Malley went to spring training with Texas in 1997 but retired when he didn't make the club.

Tom managed the Newark Bears from 1998-2001. They were 35-65 his first year, 55-64 in 1999, 74-66 in 2000 (among his players that year were Player of the Year Ozzie Canseco and Bobby Hill) and 73-51 his final year.

O'Malley then returned to Japan as a batting instructor and scout for Hanshin. He helped lure Hideki Irabu back to Hanshin for the 2003 season while in this role. He was slated to become the manager of a proposed team run by the LiveDoor company, but their bid to join NPB was shot down. Tom remained as a scout for the Tigers and also did some television commercials for them.

Notable Achievements[edit]


1980-1985 and 1989 Baseball Guides, 1986-1987 Baseball America Statistics Reports, 1988-1990 Baseball Almanacs, by Gary Garland, The Meaning of Ichiro by Robert Whiting

Related Sites[edit]