Monday, October 10, 2011

#10 Gorman Thomas

Card: This is Gorman's ninth Topps card.  His rookie card is in the 1974 set.  Thomas did not have a card in the '78 set since he was in the minors for the entire '77 season.

Pic: Thomas is following through with his swing possibly in a spring training game.  I never liked the follow through shot and always wondered why it has been popular with Topps.  Thomas has a killer mustache.  It was first observed on his 1980 card and has been scaring youngsters ever since.

Player: Stormin' Gorman was drafted in the first round of the 1969 draft by the Seattle Pilots.  Thomas started his pro career at shortstop but moved to centerfield after his first two years.  Thomas spent the '69-'72 seasons in the minors while the Pilots moved east to Milwaukee and became the Brewers. 
Thomas made the team out of spring training in 1973 but had trouble making contact and would split time between AAA the next two seasons.  He would stay up with the big team in '74 and '75 but hit only .179 and .198.  Thomas would then spend the entire 1977 season at AAA.  The Brewers traded Thomas away to the Rangers in October, only to reacquire him in February. As 1978 approached Thomas was a 27 year old with 22 home runs and 227 strikeouts in 668 career at bats, and the future didn't seem all that bright.  But Gorman Thomas was definitely a late bloomer.
Thomas won the starting CF job in 1978 and would go on to be one of the most feared sluggers of the late 70's and early 80's.  Thomas led the AL with 45 HRs in 1979 and again with 39 in 1982. Although he struck out a lot and didn't hit for average, from '78-'82 he averaged 35 HR and 98 RBI. Taking into account for the strike of '81, Thomas averaged 40 HR per 162 games during that span. 
Managed by Harvey Kuenn the 1982 pennant winning Brewers  were known for their slugging prowess.  Featuring Thomas, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie and on-base machines and future HOFers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, the squad was nicknamed Harvey Wallbangers.  The Brewers lost the '82 World Series to the Cardinals in seven games.
Thomas slumped badly in '83 and was traded to the Indians.  He finished with 22 HR but his average slipped to .209. Traded to the Mariners, Thomas hit .157 in 35 games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  Used almost exclusively as a DH, Thomas bounced back somewhat with 32 HR in '85 but batted only .215. Thomas was batting .187 when he was released by the Mariners in June 1986.  He was picked up a few weeks later by the Brewers and finished his career with his original franchise.

Flipside: Thomas also had two homerun games on June 13 and August 26 of '82.  Those strikeout totals in '79 and '80 led the league.

Oddball: Thomas spent most of the '74 season with the AAA Sacramento Solons where he hit 51 HRs in 474 at bats.  This didn't even lead the team as Doug McNulty hit 55.  The Solons home field was Hughs Field. Converted from a football field to a baseball field for the summer, the leftfield fence was only 233 feet away from home plate! As a team the Solons hit 305 homeruns and their unfortunate pitchers gave up 301 and had a 6.70 team ERA. 

History: Stormin' Gorman is remembered for his tremendous power and as a big part of the Harvey Wallbangers.  Thomas was a low average, high strikeout slugger who despite his muscular frame was able to patrol centerfield adeptly for most of his career. 
Thomas has done some scouting for the Brewers and currently makes personal appearances on behalf of the Brewers in the Milwaukee area.

1 comment:

  1. Gorman Thomas was a terror back in the day.