Frank Thomas homered for the Mets in their first two homes, the Polo Grounds and Shea Stadium, and joked last year upon accepting an invite to Old-Timers’ Day that his goal was to add Citi Field to the list.
The former outfielder, first baseman and third baseman — an “Original Met” from the franchise’s inception — died Monday, the team announced. Thomas was 93 and living in an assisted care facility in Pittsburgh.
Traded from the Milwaukee Braves in November 1961, the Niagara Falls, Ontario, native hit 34 homers for the Mets in their inaugural 1962 season. That mark stood as a club record until 1975, when Dave Kingman hit 36 homers.
Thomas’ stay with the Mets lasted into the 1964 season, when he was traded to the Phillies. His best years came with the Pirates, with whom he was selected to three All-Star teams in the 1950s and twice reached 30 homers. He finished his career with 286 homers and 962 RBIs during a 16-year major league career that also included stints with the Reds, Cubs and Astros.
Thomas appeared last August at Old-Timers’ Day — an event the Mets reinstituted last season after a 28-year absence — in a wheelchair, after falling and breaking a bone in his neck, according to the club’s director of alumni relations, Jay Horwitz.
“He willed himself to get to Old-Timers’ Day,” Horwitz said. “The morning of the game I was with him in the city with him and the other guys and he went outside the hotel and gave out autographed pictures of himself. He just loved being a part of the history of the Mets.”
Horwitz said as much as the idea to resurrect Old-Timers’ Day was fan-driven, it also served to reconnect players such as Thomas with the organization.
“I’m so glad my dad was able to go to Old-Timers’ Day,” Thomas’ daughter, Maryanne Pacconi said. “It meant the world to him to see his old teammates. I was thrilled with how the fans greeted him. I was so happy to see him in uniform again. We will treasure those memories forever.”
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