Happy birthday to Charles “Chuck” Thomas who had a magical run in the summer of 2004 as he came out of nowhere to help solidify things for the Braves. The 2004 Braves came into the season believing they had one of the game’s greatest outfields. In center field, Andruw Jones would do his thing. Over in right field, J.D. Drew would be counted on to replace Gary Sheffield. Oh, and the guy in left field was Chipper Jones. But along the way, Chipper went down with an injury and Mark DeRosa failed miserably to replace Vinny Castilla at third base. That opened the door for Charles Thomas. He turned out to be a hell of a find for the Braves.
In 83 games, Thomas hit .288/.368/.445 in just over 250 plate appearances. He’d go on to play in the NLDS against the Astros, going 4-for-16 with two walks and a steal in his only postseason experience. After the season, Thomas was included in the trade that brought Tim Hudson to Atlanta. Just 26 years-old, Thomas struggled in his new surroundings. In 30 games of an injury-shortened season, Thomas went 5-for-46. That’s a .109 average. All of his hits were singles.
Thomas would spend the next two seasons in the Athletics’ system, struggling to recapture his 2004 magic. Looking to get anything for one of the three pieces they received for Hudson, the A’s traded Thomas to the Brewers organization to finish 2007, but Thomas’s time with them was short-lived and Thomas wouldn’t play another professional game.
He dropped out of the picture and was coaching youth baseball when his name emerged again in 2013 with the news that the Royals signed Thomas. Dayton Moore, their general manager, was familiar with Thomas from the former’s time in Atlanta. However, Thomas was later announced as a coach for the Burlington Royals, their rookie-league club. From there, I don’t have any more information about Thomas.
Of importance for this quick-hitting post, Thomas hit seven career homers, all during that summer. Of note, his final two bombs came during a two-homer day against Greg Maddux. Not a bad way to close out the season, right?
In honor of his birthday, here is Chuck Thomas’s Home Run Chain. Developed by Jesse Spector, a Home Run Chain is a simple concept that starts with someone’s first home-run hit or surrendered and continues until the loop is closed off. It’s a lot easier to see a Home Run Chain than explain it. Some fun names are part of this chain, which goes on for more than 70 years.
Charles Thomas Home Run Chain
Chuck Thomas hit his first home run off Livan Hernandez, 7/7/04
Livan Hernandez gave up his first home run to Royce Clayton, 7/25/97
Royce Clayton hit his first home run off Mark Gardner, 5/8/92
Mark Gardner gave up his first home run to Pedro Guerrero, 9/19/89
Pedro Guerrero hit his first home run off Bob Owchinko, 9/22/79
Bob Owchinko gave up his first home run to Ellis Valentine, 5/21/77
Ellis Valentine hit his first home run off Jim Rooker, 9/5/75
Jim Rooker gave up his first home run to Carlos May, 6/1/69
Carlos May hit his first home run off Jim Nash, 4/9/69
Jim Kash gave up his first home run to Al Kaline, 7/3/66
Al Kaline hit his first home run off Dave Hoskins, 9/26/53
Dave Hoskins gave up his first home run to Vic Wertz, 5/28/53
Vic Wertz hit his first home run off Bob Muncrief, 8/13/47
Bob Muncrief gave up his first home run to Ray Hayworth, 9/30/37
Ray Hayworth hit his first home run off Bob Cooney, 5/30/32
Bob Cooney gave up his first home run to Bruce Campbell, 9/26/31
Bruce Campbell’s first home run was also against Bob Cooney, 9/26/31