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Roy Thomas roamed Phils' outfield at turn of century


Doug Glanville, a center fielder with the Phillies (1998-2002; '04), played his collegiate ball in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.

Well, a long, long time ago, another Penn product patrolled center field for the Phillies, Roy Thomas. The Norristown, Pa., native graduated from Penn in 1884, played four years of semi-pro ball before a 12-year career with the Phils that began in 1899. A brother, Bill, played with Roy with the Phillies, six games in 1902.

As a rookie that year, Thomas hit .325 and set career highs in games (150), runs (137), hits (178), walks (115) and on-base percentage (.457). The 137 runs remain an all-time record for a rookie in Major League Baseball and the Phils. The Phillies' modern rookie record for runs scored is 125 by Richie Allen in 1964.

A slender (5-foot-11, 150 pounds) left-handed hitter, Thomas was considered a slap hitter and an exceptional bunter, according to a SABR bio written by Bill Lamberty. In 12 years with the Phils, he scored 923 runs, walked 946 times and struck out just 454 times.

Among the Phillies' all-time top ten, Thomas ranks fifth in singles, third in walks and on-base percentage, seventh in runs and ninth in stolen bases.

Thomas walked 100 or more times in seven seasons with the Phils, a mark that was eventually matched by Mike Schmidt and Bobby Abreu. Six of the seven seasons, Thomas led the National League. No other Phillies player can match that.

Defensively, Thomas led NL center fielders in fielding percentage five times.

Following Thomas' pro career, he served as a baseball coach at Penn for a while, as well as at Haverford College. He also was a player-manager two years in the Minors.

Thomas died in 1959 at his Norristown home where he lived his entire life. He was 85.

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