All New York Mets fans of any age need to know about the original slugger in franchise history, Mr. Frank Thomas.
Kids know the name Frank Thomas because of the man who played in the 1990s and 2000s that earned the nickname “The Big Hurt” because of how well he punished baseballs. Long before him, there was another Frank Thomas swatting home runs for the New York Mets.
The O.G. Mets slugger from the 1962 squad, Thomas is a player in Mets history all of the kids should know about.
In my opinion, baseball in the 1950s gets glossed over far too much. A reason for it is because the New York Yankees absolutely dominated the decade. There was little parity and unless you were a star winning championships, you weren’t so well known.
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Thomas played throughout the 1950s with most of his time coming as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. From 1953-1958, he hit at least 23 home runs each year. Twice, he topped 30 with 100+ RBI.
A deadly slugger in the decade, Thomas saw his numbers decline when he joined the Cincinnati Reds in 1959. The same was true for the time he spent with the Chicago Cubs for the 1960 season and the start of 1961.
Thomas found his way to the Milwaukee Braves at the end of 1961. Fortunately for him, he found his power stroke again and lifted his batting average up to a more favorable total. It looked like he wasn’t done after all.
Thomas’ fun in Milwaukee didn’t last long as he was traded to the Mets the following offseason. Little did New Yorkers know, the team had just landed the first big-time home run hitter in franchise history.
In his first year with the Mets, Thomas hit 34 home runs. His first came in the second game of the season when his old Pirates teammates visited New York. A sixth inning shot at the Polo Grounds was the first of a record-setting total that held up until Dave Kingman hit 36 home runs in 1975.
Because the 1962 season was so legendarily bad, Thomas is both known and forgotten. His terrifically powerful season stands out, but it also didn’t mean much when he came close to hitting more home runs than wins the team had.
Thomas didn’t spend long in New York. In mid-1964, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Before he was, he knocked 15 more home runs in 1963 and 3 more in 1964.
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As far as Mets sluggers go, Thomas only gets a page in the first chapter of the story. Those words, though, belong in bold lettering for what he was able to accomplish in the inaugural season.