Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tales of T212 #14 : Blaine Thomas

Back in the early 1980s I thought I'd combine my interests in minor league baseball and vintage baseball cards by assembling a collection of the Obak cigarette cards that were distributed on the West Coast in 1909, 1910 and 1911.I didn't realize it then, but those cards are so much rarer than most of the contemporary T206 cards from "Back East" that putting together complete sets of the Obak could take decades to accomplish -- and that's if a guy had more money than God to buy the cards when they became available.At about the time I started my Obak collection I also started researching the players who appeared in the sets. Over the course of several long Wisconsin winters I pored over microfilms of The Sporting News and The Sporting Life from the period several years before to several years after the Obak cards circulated, making prodigious notes on 3x5 file cards for each player in the set.I gave up trying to collect the T212s (that's the catalog number Jefferson Burdick assigned the three sets in the pioneering American Card Catalog in 1939), long ago, and have since sold off all my Obaks, one-by-one, first on eBay, then on the Net 54 baseball card forum. As I was selling each card, I included interesting tidbits about each player from my notes. The bidders seemed to like learning a little bit about these guys on the cards, so I thought I'd now begin sharing their stories here.
How'd he make the majors?
Looking over my index card for Blaine Thomas, I have to assume that a promising pitching career was cut short by injury or illness.
Nicknamed "Smoke," (sometimes called "Baldy") Thomas was a California native, born in 1888. At the age of about 23 he made his professional debut in 1911 with the Victoria Bees of the Class B Northwestern League. He had a 7-11 won-loss record, but somehow earned a trial with the Boston Red Sox, making his big league debut on Aug. 25.
Thomas had two starts with the Red Sox, but pitched only 4.2 innings, giving up three hits, two runs and walking seven batters. His official ML record is 0-0 with an ERA of 0.00, because the two runs he allowed were unearned.
It looks like Thomas returned to the West Coast as Vancouver (NWL) property for 1912, though he never pitched for them in an official game. He went to Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League in mid-season. He got one start with the Sacts, pitching a complete game loss, giving up 12 hits, five runs and three walks.
There's no record of Thomas in the pros after 1912, and he died young, on Aug. 21, 1915 at 27 years of age.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments, criticism, additional information, questions, etc., are welcome . . . as long as they are germane to the original topic. All comments are moderated before they are allowed to appear and spam comments are deleted before they ever appear. No "Anonymous User" comments are allowed.