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Monday, May 24, 2021

Steve Thomas played three pro seasons, then walked away; Returned eight years later to independent ball

Steve Thomas played three pro seasons, then, unsure of his the team's plans for him in the future, he walked away, The Allentown Morning Call wrote.

Eight years later, he decided he'd try to get back in - and he succeeded after a tryout with the manager of the independent Adirondack Lumberjacks, The Morning Call wrote.

"I was just goofing around, my job sucked, so I figured why not?" Thomas told The Morning Call. "At my age you just don't do stuff like this for fun: I think I can pitch professionally, and this time I want someone to tell me I can't do it."

Thomas hit he field that year with Adirondack and went on to lead the league in saves and help Adirondack to the league title.

After three seasons spent in the minors in his initial stint in the pros, Thomas' return to the field saw him play in four more and not throw his final pitch at age 34.

Thomas' career began in 1990, taken by the Mets in the 25th round of the draft out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Thomas started with the Mets at short-season Pittsfield. He got into 19 games, eight starts. He went 3-1, with a 4.78 ERA.

Thomas then moved  to single-A Columbia for 1991. He went 9-4 there, with a 4.01 ERA. over 37 outings, nine starts. He returned to Columbia for 1992. He got into another 42 games in relief and went 6-4, with a 3.26 ERA.

Unhappy with the Mets' plans for him, Thomas then walked away

In the ensuing years, Thomas worked at several jobs, including selling appliances and managing a pizza shop. Then, he went to that tryout with former major leaguer and Adirondack manager Les Lancaster, who initially wasn't so sure about what he saw, he told The Glens Falls Post-Star that July.

"Here comes this big guy getting out of a little car and I'm thinking, 'My gosh, what did I get myself into,'" Lancaster told The Post-Star. He probably weighed more than 300 pounds. I didn't even think that he would be able to throw the ball very good, but I told him I'd give him a chance."

Lancaster signed Thomas. Thomas then got into 33 games in relief. He saved 23 games and turned in a 2.70 ERA.

He moved to independent Winnipeg for 2001, where he saved another 20 games. He returned there for 2002 and for 2003, when he also played at independent Lincoln, to finally end his career after seven total pro seasons.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,657
Made the Majors:1,251-34.2%
Never Made Majors:2,406-65.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:308

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