|Infielder / Outfielder|
|Born: January 14, 1951|
Los Angeles, California
|September 14, 1971, for the Houston Astros|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 5, 1985, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||370|
|Career highlights and awards|
Derrel Osborn Thomas (born January 14, 1951) is a former professional baseball player who played in Major League Baseball primarily as a second baseman, center fielder, and shortstop from 1971 to 1985. He played every position except pitcher at least once in his career.
Thomas attended Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. The school was the alma mater of a number of major-league players, including Sparky Anderson, Chili Davis and Don Buford. The Houston Astros made Thomas the first overall pick in the January 1969 MLB draft. He played 69 games between two teams in the Astros system that year, batting a career-high .302. By 1971, Thomas had made his major-league debut, playing six games for the Astros.
In a major-league career that lasted through 1985, Thomas played for eight teams, mostly on the West Coast. In one of his best seasons, he hit .276 for the 1975 San Francisco Giants, collecting 48 runs batted in and 28 stolen bases, both career highs.
Thomas said that he was often immature and unable to deal with the stressors of the game. Dusty Baker became fond of Thomas while they played for the Dodgers, but many people in baseball found Thomas to be an agitator. "Let's put it this way: Derrel Thomas does things that make it easy to hate him," Dodgers teammate Reggie Smith said. Padres manager Roger Craig said Thomas "plays hard and he's a showman-type player... If he has to play the villain role to get attention, he'll do it." After the 1985 season, Thomas' name was brought up in the Pittsburgh drug trials. Though he was not suspended, he was unable to find another major-league team to sign with. He signed with an independent team, the San Jose Bees, but he did not fit in well with his teammates and he was cut before the 1986 season started.
Following his playing career, Thomas briefly coached at Los Angeles City College and was the first manager of the Boise Hawks in 1987, then an independent team in the Class A-Short Season Northwest League. In June of that year, the Hawks faced the Bend Bucks, managed by Mel Roberts, marking the first time outside of Negro league baseball that two black managers faced each other in a professional regular-season game.
Thomas was fired during his first season in Boise. By 1988, he was managing a bar and coaching baseball at Leuzinger High School. Before a 1989 game, several players were late for the team bus, and though the players drove to their game, he would not allow them to play. Several players quit the team in protest and Thomas resigned.
In December 1991, Thomas was hired as a baseball coach at Dorsey High School. In March, a Dorsey baseball player fatally shot himself on the team bus while playing Russian roulette. Thomas was arrested the next month for attempting to purchase 22 pounds of cocaine. He was placed on probation; his probation was extended after a 1997 drug possession arrest.
As of 2009, he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization serving as a representative of the Dodgers Legend Bureau.
- Spander, Art (May 21, 1992). "Another pothole forms in Thomas' rocky road". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 24.
- "Derrel Thomas Stats | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Ostler, Scott (August 9, 1978). "Derrel Thomas likes attention and will do anything for it". Los Angeles Times.
- Verducci, Tom (September 12, 2016). "The Bad News Bees". SI.com.
- Lycklama, Michael (June 14, 2017). "The manager as the mascot, league titles and goat nights: The Boise Hawks' first 30 years". Idaho Statesman.
- Fernas, Rob (February 25, 1988). "Ex-Dodger mixes bar and baseball". Los Angeles Times.
- Fernas, Rob (April 30, 1992). "Thomas was a disappointment to hopeful athletes at Leuzinger". Los Angeles Times.
- "Tough times". SFGate. October 26, 1997. Retrieved January 6, 2018.