Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Valmy Thomas Bumps an Ump, Gets Sold Twice and Shot!

Valmy Thomas was a catcher for the Giants, Phillies, Indians and Orioles in the late 50s and early 60s, born in Puerto Rico, he identified as being from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

An incident with an umpire in the 1962 season saw Thomas' career take a few turns, then his life was nearly cut short during the season.

Thomas had started 1962 with Jacksonville of the Indians' minor leagues, when he was involved in an altercation with an umpire: The Spokesman-Review of Friday, June 22, 1962 had a good article on what happened...

"(Valmy) Thomas argued with (Umpire Tom) Lopat at the plate after being called out on strikes in Saturday's Jacksonville-Buffalo game. Thomas, sold to Rochester today for an unannounced figure, bumped Lopat several times and was restrained from attacking him."

Thomas was originally given a 3 day suspension and $100 fine by the league commissioner, which prompted a resignation from the umpire, Lopat. The Minor League Commissioner overruled that decision and suspended Thomas for 30 days.

Thomas never played for Rochester, and ended up heading to Atlanta.

According to the great blog On a Silver Diamond, 

" Thomas’ appearance was held up by a fine and suspension for striking an ump during a June 16 game. Thomas admitted to pushing the ump, but denied any punch, a statement verified by his teammates and most observers. Two different versions from the umpire involved clouded the issue, but Thomas was subsequently had his suspension lengthened to 30 days by the minor’s ruling body, the National Association of Professional Baseball League (NAPBL). Sisler blasted the move, claiming Thomas was being railroaded. The suspension voided the sale, since Thomas was technically suspended at the time of the transaction."

BTW, that blog is a wonderful history of Rochester baseball.

Jack Hairston's column in the Gainesville Sun of May 3, 1988  gives his view on what happened, he seems rather proud of his part in getting Thomas' suspension extended for what that is worth, and  also mentions Thomas' subsequent sale to Atlanta. Verified in the July 23, 1962 St. Petersburg Times.
That wasn't the end to Thomas' 1962 saga. He only got 13 games in with Atlanta, injured his finger, then was shot in an argument over a woman, you can read that here in the August 22, 1962 St. Petersburg Times!

He survived, but his active career didn't. He lived to the age of 84. A wild ride for Thomas in 1962!

Thomas card photo swiped from giantswax.blogspot.com  

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