Frank Thomas, Pirates star and original Met, dies at 93

Frank Thomas
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NEW YORK – Frank Thomas, a three-time All-Star with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates who later became the top hitter on the expansion New York Mets, died Monday. He was 93.

Both teams announced Thomas’ death. The Mets said he died Monday morning in Pittsburgh. No cause was given.

Thomas played 16 seasons in the major leagues from 1951-66, the first eight for Pittsburgh, where he was born. He batted .266 overall with 286 home runs and 962 RBIs.

Nicknamed “The Original,” Thomas made it to Citi Field in late August when the Mets held their first Old-Timers’ Day in 28 years.

“This is my last fling for baseball,” he said that day.

Primarily an outfielder and third baseman, Thomas was selected to National League All-Star teams in 1954, `55 and ’58, when he set career bests with 35 homers, 109 RBIs and an .863 OPS. He finished fourth in the NL MVP race that year behind Hall of Fame sluggers Ernie Banks, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, and just ahead of another player enshrined in Cooperstown: pitcher Warren Spahn.

Thomas was traded by the Pirates to Cincinnati in January 1959, and then to the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Braves. They sent him to the fledgling Mets in November 1961, and Thomas batted cleanup for New York in the franchise’s first game on April 11, 1962, at St. Louis.

He finished that season with 34 homers and 94 RBIs, most in both categories by far for a lovable laughingstock team that lost a big league-record 120 games under Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel.

Those numbers stood as the club record for home runs until 1975 and RBIs until 1970.

New York traded Thomas to the Philadelphia Phillies in August 1964, and he also played for the Houston Astros before finishing his career in 1966 with the Cubs.

At age 93, he was a big hit on Old-Timers’ Day at Citi Field last summer.

“I’m so thankful that my dad was able to go,” Thomas’ daughter, Maryanne Pacconi, said in a Mets statement. “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.”

Thomas led the Pirates in home runs five times and RBIs four times, including his first year as a regular starter in 1953.

The team said he was a “proud family man and a man of great faith” who was “a valued member of the Pirates Alumni Association for over 30 years. He was most passionate about his charitable work with Camp Happy Days-Kids Kickin’ Cancer, Courageous Kidz and the Millvale Meals On Wheels.”

“Frank was proud to call the city of Pittsburgh home not only as a member of the Pirates but also as a person who spent his entire life here,” team president Travis Williams said.

Thomas was preceded in death by his wife, Dolores, and daughter, Sharon. He is survived by his children Joanne Harrison, Patty Cain, Frankie Thomas, Peter Thomas, Maryanne Pacconi, Paul Thomas, and Mark Thomas, the Pirates said.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).