James Gorman Thomas III
>> Visit the Gorman Thomas biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Gorman Thomas, born in Charleston, South Carolina, was on pace to become one of the best outfielders of the 1980s. However, his career stalled after surgery.
Thomas showed promise at an early age. In high school, he earned 14 individual letters in football, baseball, basketball and track. He had planned to attend Florida State on a football scholarship, but he became the first player chosen by the Seattle Pilots in the June 1969 draft. During his stint in the minor leagues, Thomas was a two-time home run champion. He didn't find a regular spot in the major leagues until 1978, however, because of his tendency to strike out.
During the 1977 offseason, the Milwaukee Brewers purchased Thomas' contract from the Rangers. That opened the door for his breakthrough season in 1978. Thomas hit .246 with 32 home runs and 86 runs batted in. In 1979, he led the American League with 45 home runs and finished third with 123 runs batted in.
He continued his pace in 1980 when he hit 38 home runs and drove in 105 runs. In 1981, he was named to the American League All-Star team. Later that season, he had rotator cuff surgery. However, he led the league in home runs again in 1982 when he hit 39. He finished fifth in the American League in runs batted in with 112.
On June 6, 1988, the Brewers sent Thomas, a popular player with the fans, to Cleveland along with pitchers Jamie Easterly and Ernie Camacho for outfielder Rick Manning and pitcher Rick Waits. The trade proved to be less than successful for the Brewers and one of the organization's biggest mistakes.
Thomas returned to the Brewers at mid-season in 1986 and finished his career hitting .187 with 16 home runs and 36 runs batted in.
He was recently named one of South Carolina's Top 50 Athletes in Sports Illustrated's end of the century issue.