Former Major League Baseball star Frank "The Original" Thomas, a founding member of the New York Mets expansion franchise in 1962, has passed away at the age of 93, ESPN reported.
Prior to his stint with the fledgling Mets organization, Thomas had been a three-time All-Star outfielder and third baseman for his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates for eight seasons.
We are saddened to confirm the passing of former Pirates great Frank Thomas.
Frank was a lifelong Pittsburgher who spent his first eight seasons with his hometown team. We send our condolences to the Thomas family at this time. pic.twitter.com/AuQIkx5POY
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) January 16, 2023
A Monday press release from the Mets announced that Thomas, who played with the club from 1962-1964, had passed away that morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, less than a year after he had been honored last summer at Citi Field as part of the team's Old Timers' Day event.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of original Met Frank Thomas. pic.twitter.com/ZNkIrU59ea
— New York Mets (@Mets) January 16, 2023
"I'm so thankful that my dad was able to go to Old Timers' Day," daughter Maryanne Pacconi said of her father in a 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."
According to the New York Post, Thomas died while residing in an assisted living facility in his hometown in Pennsylvania.
MLB.com reported that Thomas had initially studied to be a Catholic priest prior to becoming a professional baseball player in 1947 who reached the major league with his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates organization in 1951.
Upon news of his death, the team highlighted his charitable work for children and described him as a "proud family man and a man of great faith" who was "a valued member of the Pirates Alumni Association for over 30 years," per ESPN.
Pirates team President Travis Williams said, "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."
After his eight years in Pittsburgh, Thomas was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1959, then to the Chicago Cubs in 1960, and the Milwaukee Braves in 1961, after which he ended up in New York with the Mets. Following his three seasons in New York, he played for three different teams in 1965- the Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, and the Braves- before finishing up his career in 1966 with the Cubs.
Over the course of his 18-year MLB career, Thomas had a .266 batting average with 286 home runs, 962 runs batted in, and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .774.
"It doesn’t make a difference who I played with or for," Thomas had said of his career in a 2019 interview, according to MLB.com. "I just loved baseball that much."
Per ESPN, the 93-year-old Thomas had been preceded in death by his wife Dolores, and a daughter named Sharon, but was survived by seven other children -- Joanne, Patty, Frankie, Peter, Maryanne, Paul, and Mark.