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James Gorman Thomas III (born December 12, 1950 in Charleston, South Carolina) is a former Major League Baseball center fielder and right-handed hitter who played in the American League with the Milwaukee Brewers (1973–76, 1978–83, 1986), Cleveland Indians (1983) and Seattle Mariners (1984–86).
One of the most popular players in Brewers history, and affectionately known as "Stormin' Gorman", Thomas hit more home runs during the period 1978-1983 than any other player in the American League with 197. His frequent strikeouts and low batting average overshadowed some of his career accomplishments. Thomas was a premier center fielder, with a wide range and strong arm until undergoing rotator cuff surgery in 1984, which limited his duties and led to his being utilized primarily as a designated hitter for the remainder of his career.
Thomas was the first player selected by the Seattle Pilots in the June 1969 draft. In the minors he won two home run titles, and made his Major League debut with Milwaukee in 1973. He belted his first home run against Jim Palmer, but was optioned to the Triple-A Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League. After hitting 51 homers with Sacramento in 1974, he returned to the big league team at the end of September.
Gorman became an everyday center fielder for the Brewers in 1978 and clubbed 32 home runs to go along with 86 RBI. The next season (1979) Thomas enjoyed his best season in the Majors compiling career high numbers in home runs (45, tops in the AL), RBI (123), runs scored (97), hits (136), doubles (29), walks (98), on base percentage (.356), total bases (300), slugging average (.539) and OPS (.895).
In 1980, Thomas had another productive season, hitting 38 home runs to go along with 105 RBI, while playing in every game. Gorman followed that up in 1981 by finishing second in the AL in home runs with 21 and being named to the AL All-Star Team.
In 1982, Thomas hit an AL-high 39 home runs (tying with Reggie Jackson for the league lead) and drove in 112 runs to help the Brewers win the American League Championship and face the Cardinals in the World Series. Ultimately, the Brewers lost to the Cardinals in seven games, with Thomas striking out against Bruce Sutter to end the Series.
During the next season, he was involved in a controversial trade that sent him to the Indians in exchange for Rick Manning. He also played with the Mariners and returned to Milwaukee in 1986 for a last run.
Thomas was a career .225 hitter with 268 home runs and 782 RBI in 1435 games. An All-Star in 1981, he was considered for the MVP Award in 1979 (7th) and 1982 (8th). In 1982, Gorman was named an Outfielder on The Sporting News AL All-Star Team and also was selected as The Sporting News AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1985 as a member of the Seattle Mariners. At present, he works under a personal services contract with the Brewers to make appearances in the community and welcome visitors to Gorman's Grill at Miller Park.
Gorman Thomas was featured on the 1989 Holiday Bowl episode of Cheap Seats in a trivia segment titled "Mormon, Foreman, or Gorman."
Thomas was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
*The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia – Gary Gillette, Peter Gammons, Pete Palmer. Publisher: Sterling Publishing, 2005. Format: Paperback, 1824pp. Language: English. ISBN 1-4027-4771-3
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube