Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garry and Gary

You can count yourself as a real Giants fan if you remember that the Giants decided to trade Garry Maddox early in the 1975 season to the Phils for Willie Montanez -- partly because they had Gary Thomasson ready to go. Problem was that while Maddox was as good as it gets when it comes to centerfield, Thomasson was pretty awful, at least every time I showed up at the Stick in the 1975 and 1976 seasons. He had a hardcore ability to misplay balls at a time when the Stick had an extremely hard Astroturf surface. Every ball hit to center was a challenge to his artless defense. Meanwhile, Maddox was a mainstay to a playoff contender and the 1980 World Series champs. He even came in fifth in the MVP voting in 1976, when Joe Morgan was winning his second consecutive MVP with an impressive WAR rating of 10.0.

I found these cards at the 1975 Topps (It's Far Out, Man) site, which I love despite the fact that it's obviously been assembled by a Dodger fan. The Thomasson recap made me laugh out loud.

Gary Thomasson's bat looks like it came from Kay-Bee toys.Other stuff: Thomasson came up with the Giants and was a fourth outfielder for San Francisco during the days when the team featured a starting outfield of Bobby Bonds, Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews. Thomasson also played some first base, as you see by the position designation on the card.Thomasson was shipped to Oakland in the massive trade that brought Vida Blue to the Giants. But Thomasson was traded again to the Yankees three months later. He played in the postseason in 1978 (going 1-for-5) and then was traded to the Dodgers, where he was a backup outfielder for two seasons.Afterward, Thomasson signed to play in Japan, inking the highest-paying contract in Nippon Pro Baseball at the time. He led the league in strikeouts, receiving the nickname "The Human Giant Fan" by Japanese writers. His playing career ended with a knee injury his final year in Japan in '82.

MY COMMENT -- The one positive Thomasson moment that sticks out in my mind came on opening day at Dodger Stadium in 1976 when he hit the first pitch of the season out of the park.


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