Frank Thomas died at the age of 93, the New York Mets announced on Monday.
Thomas, an original member of the Mets, spent three seasons with the team. At that time, he set a franchise single-season home run record with 34 homers in 1962. In that inaugural season for the Mets, he also recorded 94 RBIs and slashed .266/.329/.496. He spent 16 seasons in the major leagues playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Mets, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Braves and Houston Astros.
“Frank was a lifelong Pittsburgher who spent his first eight seasons with his hometown team,” the Pirates wrote on their official Twitter account. “We send our condolences to the Thomas family at this time.”
The three-time All-Star was present in last summer’s Mets Old Timers’ Day alongside Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Joe Torre.
“I’m so thankful that my dad was able to go to Old Timers’ Day,” Thomas’ daughter, Maryanne Pacconi said. “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.”
Mets fans familiar with Thomas have heard a comical story involving teammates, outfielder Richie Ashburn and shortstop Elio Chacon, during the 1962 season with the team.
Ashburn would yell “I got it!” when tracking pop-ups but Chacon collided with the outfielder since he only understood Spanish. Ashburn then learned to yell “Yo la tengo” — meaning I got it — to successfully alert Chacon in future games.
In a later game, Ashburn successfully called off Chacon but was run over by Thomas — who didn’t understand Spanish and wasn’t alerted of the signal change. Thomas then got up after colliding with Ashburn and said “What the heck is a Yellow Tango?”
The story became the inspiration for a couple artists to name their indie rock band “Yo La Tengo.”