Frank Thomas, Pirates star and original Met, dies at 93

NEW YORK (AP) — Frank Thomas, a three-time All-Star with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates who later became the top hitter for the expansion New York Mets, died Monday. He was 93.

Both teams announced the death of Thomas. The Mets said he died in Pittsburgh Monday morning. No reason was given.

Thomas played 16 seasons in the major leagues from 1951 to 1966, the first eight for Pittsburgh, where he was born. He batted .266 overall with 286 home runs and 962 RBIs.

Nicknamed “The Original,” Thomas made it to Citi Field in late August when the Mets held their first vintage car day in 28 years.

“This is my last baseball affair,” he said that day.

Primarily an outfielder and third baseman, Thomas was selected to the National League All-Star teams in 1954, 1955 and 1958 when he had career bests with 35 homers, 109 RBIs and .863 OPS. He finished fourth in the NL MVP race that year behind Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and just ahead of another player anchored in Cooperstown: pitcher Warren Spahn.

Thomas was traded by the Pirates to Cincinnati in January 1959 and then to the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Braves. They sent him to the young Mets in November 1961, and Thomas fought for New York in the franchise’s first game on April 11, 1962 in St. Louis.

He finished that season with 34 homers and 94 RBIs, by far the most in either category for a lovable laugh-stock team that lost a major league record 120 games under Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel.

These numbers held as club records for home runs until 1975 and for RBIs until 1970.

New York traded Thomas to the Philadelphia Phillies in August 1964, and he also played for the Houston Astros before retiring in 1966 with the Cubs.

At the age of 93, he was a big hit at Citi Field’s Classic Car Day last summer.

“I’m so grateful my dad was able to go,” Thomas’s daughter, Maryanne Pacconi, said in a statement from the Mets. “It meant the world to him to see his old teammates again. I loved how the fans greeted him. I was so happy to see him in uniform again. We will cherish those memories forever.”

Thomas led the Pirates in home runs five times and RBIs four times, including his first year as a regular starter in 1953.

The team said he was a “proud family man and a man of great faith” who was “a valued member of the Pirates Alumni Association for over 30 years.” He was most passionate about his charitable work with Camp Happy Days – Kids Kickin’ Cancer, Courageous Kidz and the Millvale Meals On Wheels.”

“Frank was proud to call the city of Pittsburgh home not only as a member of the Pirates, but also as a person who has lived here his entire life,” said team president Travis Williams.

Thomas was preceded in death by his wife Dolores and daughter Sharon. He is survived by his children Joanne Harrison, Patty Cain, Frankie Thomas, Peter Thomas, Maryanne Pacconi, Paul Thomas and Mark Thomas, the pirates said.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| |
Back to top button