An all star in 1962, Thomas enjoyed eight seasons in the big leagues, playing from 1961-1968. He came up with the Yankees, but only spent two games with the Bombers before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels. Thomas had a great rookie season, hitting .285 for Los Angeles with 24 home runs and 70 RBI. He finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year vote and received MVP votes as well. Thomas hit 24 more home runs for the Halos in 1961 and had his best season the following year. His batting average soared to a career best .290 in 1962 as he hit 26 home runs and drove in 104. He earned his lone All-Star Game selection that year and was 11th in the MVP vote. His stats began to decline following that season, but he rallied to hit 22 home runs for the 1965 Red Sox before finishing his career with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros.
A couple interesting things from the survey. Thomas lists the toughest pitcher he ever faced as Sam McDowell, who was the same pitcher given by yesterday’s featured player Bill Bryan. McDowell won 141 games in his career and was a six-time all star. He also led the AL in strikeouts six times.
The second thing Thomas mentions of particular interest, is his nine hits in a double header. He banged out nine hits (including three home runs in the second game) against the Kansas City A’s in two games played on September 5, 1961. He is one of nine men in the history of baseball to accomplish the feat which stands as the record for hits in a double header.
Following his playing career Thomas became a coach in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. In 1975, he moved into the Cardinals’ front office and eventually became the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the architect of the 1993 National League pennant-winning Phillies team. He also worked in the front office of the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
Lee Thomas – career stats