Frank Thomas, who debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1951 and would go on to play for the Reds, Cubs, Braves, Mets, Phillies and Astros, has died at the age of 93, 11 years after the death of his wife Dolores.
Note: the late Pittsburgh native is not to be confused with “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, age 54, who made his last MLB appearance in 2008 for the Oakland Athletics. The younger of the two Frank Thomases is still alive and well. They are not related.
The MLB website calls Thomas a “slugging star” of the 1962 Mets. He reportedly held the franchise’s single-season home run record for “most of a decade.”
He was 93 when he died on Monday morning. The Mets announced his death – find their social media post below.
When did Frank Thomas marry his wife, Dolores Wozniak?
Frank Thomas married Dolores “Dodo” Wozniak in 1951. Born in 1929, he would have been 21 or 22 at the time.
That was the same year he debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates, although he actually signed with them as an amateur free agent four years earlier, in 1947.
During the course of their marriage, Thomas and Dodo would have eight children together: Joanne, Patty Ann, Frank W, Peter, Maryanne, Paul, Father Mark, and Sharon. Sharon sadly died before her mother. The New York Mets included a few photographs of Frank Thomas and his wife Dolores with six of their children when they were young in a 2022 blogpost.
Dolores Wozniak was also a sister to late Joan “Sissy” Phillips and, sister-in-law to her husband Bill. She and Frank Thomas had 15 grandchildren, as of 2013, and lived in Ross Township, Pennsylvania.
How did she die, and when?
After 61 years of marriage, Frank Thomas’ wife Dolores died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.
She and Frank had four great-grandchildren at the time of her death. Her Mass of Christian Burial – a Catholic funeral service – took place in October of that year between St Sebastian Church and Devlin Funeral Home in North Hills.
In lieu of flowers, the family invited contributions to St Sebastian School Fund, or Millville Meals On Wheels.
The Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper included her obituary in its pages on October 12. The funeral mass itself was on October 4, 2012, at St Vincent Archabbey Basilica in Latrobe, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
Thomas trained to be a Catholic priest before taking up baseball
Before he became a professional baseball player in 1947, Frank Thomas trained to become a Catholic priest.
Born in Pittsburgh on June 11, 1929, he entered a seminary in Niagara Falls, Ontario to study for the priesthood, according to a biography published by the Society For American Baseball Research in 2013.
But baseball was his calling, and he forwent the ecclesiastical life. His father was Lithuanian; he emigrated from Lithuania to the US in the early 1900s, and worked as a foreman for the laundry department at Pittsburgh’s Magee Hospital. His name was Bronaslaus Tumas.
His mother, meanwhile, was Anna Marian Thomas. She was a “homemaker” from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Frank Thomas had three siblings: an older sister, Delores, whose name, coincidentally, is the same as his late wife’s, although it is spelled differently; and a younger sister and brother, Marie and John.
What do we know about his cause of death? Was Frank Thomas ill in later life?
In July 2021, according to a post on the Mets Insider Blog website, Frank Thomas spent some time at a rehab facility following a “bad fall.”
It caused a neck injury. Nothing in the blogpost indicates that it was particularly severe, but any fall and consequent neck injury at the age of 92 is likely to raise eyebrows.
Unfazed, it seemed, Thomas was still due to visit Citi Field to join his 1962 teammates Jay Hook, Craig Anderson, Ken MacKenzie and Ed Kranepool for Old Timers’ Day.
“Nothing will stand in the way of 92-year old Original Met Frank Thomas,” opined journalist Jay Horwitz, in the post. “He told me a few weeks ago that it was his goal to go deep at Citi Field. Who would bet against him?”