The broken thumb of fate: The 1964 Phillies collapse

From SABR member Bob Hurte at on June 24, 2012:

Frank Thomas and I have been faithful friends for nearly twenty years.  I am referring to the “Original” Frank Thomas who was a rookie for the Pirates in 1951 and an original New York Met in 1962; not to confuse him with the White Sox slugger of the nineties.

I met Frank at a Pirates’ Dream Week Camp in 1993.  He was my coach along with Kent Tekulve.  We have visited in person a couple of times and have talked on the phone but the United States Post Office has been the guardian of our friendship for all of these years.  We have exchanged close to one hundred and fifty cards and letters over that time.  Together we have share news about our families, the status of health issues, and of course baseball past and present.

For the longest time I did not talk to him about the infamous collapse of the 1964 Phillies.  You see Frank spent most of his career on non-contenders.  He was a star on the awful Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the fifties.  As fate would have it, he was traded to the 1959 Cincinnati Reds for three players: Harvey Haddix, Don Hoak, and Smokey Burgess.  They proved to be the missing pieces of the puzzle for the 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.  Then to rub more salt in his wounds, he ended up on the 1962 New York Mets, although, he did lead them with 34 homeruns.

So, when Frank was traded to the first-place Philadelphia Phillies it seemed like redemption!

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Originally published: July 5, 2012. Last Updated: July 5, 2012.