Frank Thomas Obituary, Death – Frank Thomas, a former New York Mets outfielder, passed away Thursday at the age of 93. It was in 1962, the first year the team played at the Polo Grounds, that Thomas hit 34 home runs. Thomas hit the first home run for the New York Mets in their inaugural season at the Polo Grounds. After breaking a bone in his neck in an accident, Thomas was confined to a wheelchair, but he still attended the Mets’ Old-Timers Day celebration that August. In its 28th year, the event marked the return of the Mets to the scene. Thomas’ daughter Maryanne Pacconi was overjoyed that her father could attend Old-Timers’ Day, adding, “I’m so thrilled my dad was able to go.” I’m happy he made it, especially since it was my dad. Returning to his former unit was of utmost importance to him.
The crowd’s reaction was even better than I had hoped for. Memories of happier times surfaced upon seeing him in uniform. Forever etched in both of our memories are these moments. His stay at the Polo Grounds is the setting for a memorable anecdote from his days as a Met. That event did take place, I do remember. He had a chance to hit behind the first base runner, as the scenario called for, but he passed.
Like most of Thomas’s hits, this one was headed toward the left field foul line. The next pitch he hit was a ground ball that bounced once before being collected by the third baseman, who threw out the runner at second base to begin a double play. Casey Stengel, the longtime manager of the New York Mets, had a reputation for losing his cool frequently and for saying famous things like, “If you want to be a sailor, go join the Navy!”
To win points toward a luxury motor cruiser by hitting the circle on the Howard’s clothier sign in left field, Thomas appeared to have been trying to draw the ball rather than hit it to the other field. The award was generously provided by the tailor who works for the Howards. Frank, rest in peace.
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