Frank “The Original” Thomas, 1950s Pirates Star and Original Met, Dies
NEW YORK — Frank Thomas, a three-time All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates who later became the lead hitter for the expansion New York Mets, died Monday. He was 93 years old.
Both teams announced his passing. The Mets say he died Monday morning in Pittsburgh. They did not give a cause of death for him.
Thomas played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues between 1951 and 1966, the first eight with Pittsburgh, the city where he was born. He hit .266 with 286 home runs and 962 RBIs.
Known as “The Original,” Thomas arrived at Citi Field in late August when the Mets hosted the first Old-Timers’ Day in 28 years.
“This is my last adventure with baseball,” he said that day.
Playing primarily outfield and third base, Thomas was an All-Star with the National League in 1954, ’55 and ’58, when he had a career-high 35 home runs, 109 RBIs and an .863 OPS.
Thomas was sent to the Cincinnati Reds in January 1959 and later with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. In November 1961 he was sent to the fledgling Mets and Thomas hit in the franchise’s first game on April 11, 1962 in St. Louis.
He finished that season with 34 homers and 94 RBIs, the most in either category for a team that was mocked by losing a record 120 games under manager Casey Stengel.
Those numbers were franchise records for home runs through 1975 and RBIs through 1970.
New York sent Thomas to the Philadelphia Phillies in August 1964 and he also played with the Houston Astros before ending his career with the Cubs in 1966.
At 93, he attended Old-Timers’ Day last summer.
“I’m thankful my father was able to go,” his daughter Maryanne Pacconi said in a Mets statement. “It meant the world to him to see his old teammates.”
Thomas was preceded in death by his wife, Dolores, and their daughter, Shanon. He is survived by his children Joanne Harrison, Patty Cain, Frankie Thomas, Peter Thomas, Maryanne Pacconi, Paul Thomas, and Mark Thomas, the Pirates said.