Lee Thomas (baseball)
|Outfielder / First baseman|
February 5, 1936 |
|Batted: Left||Threw: Right|
|April 22, 1961 for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 1968 for the Houston Astros|
|Career highlights and awards|
James Leroy "Lee" Thomas (born February 5, 1936 in Peoria, Illinois) is a former player and current front-office executive in American Major League Baseball. As general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1988 to 1997, Thomas built the Phillies from a below .500 club into the 1993 champions of the National League, only to see the team revert to its losing ways when later teams were plagued by injuries and the organization had little money to spend.
In his playing days, Thomas was a powerful outfielder and first baseman who batted left-handed and threw right-handed. Originally a member of the New York Yankees organization (1954–61), Thomas could not break into the Bombers' strong lineup despite putting up good offensive statistics in minor league baseball. He had two at bats for the 1961 Yanks (garnering one hit), then was traded to the expansion Los Angeles Angels during the Halos' first American League season. As an everyday player with the Angels and Boston Red Sox, from 1961 to 1965, Thomas topped the 20 home run mark three times, and drove in 104 RBI for the Angels in 1962. The remainder of his Major League playing career (1966–68) was spent in the National League as a part-time player and pinch hitter with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros. He compiled a career batting average of .255 with 106 home runs. After his major league career, he played in Japan in 1969 for the Nankai Hawks.
In the early 1970s, Thomas joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a minor league manager, briefly served as a coach (in 1972), then moved into their front office, eventually rising to the position of director of player development. He was a key member of the Cardinals' organization during the club's run of success during the early to mid-1980s when the Cards, led by manager Whitey Herzog, won NL pennants in 1982, 1985 and 1987 and the 1982 World Series.
In June 1988, Thomas was lured to Philadelphia to take command of the Phillies. He acquired players such as Curt Schilling, Lenny Dykstra and Mitch Williams, who played critical roles in the Phils' 1993 pennant-winning team, which lost the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays. That same year, The Sporting News named him Executive of the Year for all of Major League Baseball.
When four straight losing seasons followed the '93 pennant, Thomas was replaced as GM by Ed Wade, his assistant. He then returned to the Red Sox as a special assistant to the general manager from 1998 to 2003, where he played a key role in Boston's signing of free agent outfielder Manny Ramírez in December 2000. He served the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers as a scout, and on December 4, 2011, he joined the Baltimore Orioles as a special assistant to general manager Dan Duquette, with whom he worked in Boston.
- Career statistics from Baseball Reference
- List of Philadelphia Phillies award winners and league leaders
- List of St. Louis Cardinals coaches
|Philadelphia Phillies General Manager
|Sporting News Major League Baseball Executive of the Year