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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Derrel Thomas
Thomas in 1978
Infielder / Outfielder
Born: (1951-01-14) January 14, 1951 (age 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Batted: Switch
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1971, for the Houston Astros
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1985, for the Philadelphia Phillies
MLB statistics
Batting average.249
Home runs43
Runs batted in370
Career highlights and awards

Derrel Osbon Thomas (born January 14, 1951) is an American former professional baseball player and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a second baseman and utility player from 1971 to 1985. Thomas was a member of the 1981 World Series winning Los Angeles Dodgers team. He played every defensive position except pitcher at least once in his career. After his Major League career, Thomas became a minor league manager.

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Early life

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.[1] 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.[2]

He was traded along with Bill Greif and Mark Schaeffer from the Astros to the San Diego Padres for Dave Roberts on December 3, 1971.[3] He was dealt from the Padres to the Giants for Tito Fuentes and Butch Metzger at the Winter Meetings on December 6, 1974.[4]

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.[1] "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."[5] 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.[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[9]

Thomas was fired during his first season in Boise.[7][8][10] By 1988, he was managing a bar and coaching baseball at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California.[11] 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.[12]

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 (10 kg) of cocaine.[1] He was placed on probation; his probation was extended after a 1997 drug possession arrest.[13]

As of 2009, he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization serving as a representative of the Dodgers Legend Bureau.


  1. ^ a b c Spander, Art (May 21, 1992). "Another pothole forms in Thomas' rocky road". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 24.
  2. ^ "Derrel Thomas Stats |". Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  3. ^ Durso, Joseph. "Astros Acquire Roberts And Twins Get Granger," The New York Times, Saturday, December 4, 1971. Retrieved March 23, 2020
  4. ^ Koppett, Leonard. "Baseball Meetings End Amid Detente," The New York Times, Saturday, December 7, 1974. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  5. ^ Ostler, Scott (August 9, 1978). "Derrel Thomas likes attention and will do anything for it". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ Verducci, Tom (September 12, 2016). "The Bad News Bees".
  7. ^ a b "Slow start leads to Thomas' firing". Idahonian. (Moscow). Associated Press. July 27, 1987. p. 8.
  8. ^ a b Stalick, Howie (July 28, 1987). "Firing by Boise angers Thomas". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. B3.
  9. ^ Lycklama, Michael (June 14, 2017). "The manager as the mascot, league titles and goat nights: The Boise Hawks' first 30 years". Idaho Statesman.
  10. ^ "Fired skipper says he wasn't prepared". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. July 28, 1987. p. D1.
  11. ^ Fernas, Rob (February 25, 1988). "Ex-Dodger mixes bar and baseball". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Fernas, Rob (April 30, 1992). "Thomas was a disappointment to hopeful athletes at Leuzinger". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ "Tough times". SFGate. October 26, 1997. Retrieved January 6, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 July 2023, at 01:27
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