Keith Marshall Thomas
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1½", Weight 195 lb.
- School Kansas State University
- Debut April 19, 1952
- Final Game September 27, 1953
- Born April 27, 1923 in Kansas City, KS USA
- Died January 7, 1995 in Rocky Mount, NC USA
Kite Thomas was an outfielder eight years (1947-1954), one in college (1947); two in the Majors (1952-1953) and six in the minors (1947-1951 and 1954). Thomas was born on April 27, 1923, in Kansas City, KS. He graduated from high school, where he starred in baseball and basketball, in 1941 at age 18. He married Rosemary Harmon on June 25, 1942. Thomas served in the U.S. Navy during World War II (BN). He then attended Kansas State University in 1947.
Signed as an amateur free agent by scout Lee MacPhail for the New York Yankees before the 1947 season, he broke into Organized Baseball at age 23 with the Joplin Miners in the Western Association. That winter, he played guard (and refereed some) for Kansas City in the Professional Basketball League of America. He played for the Quincy Gems in the Three-I League in 1948 where he led th league in RBI with 99, the Beaumont Roughnecks in the Texas League in 1949 and 1950 and the Kansas City Blues in the American Association (AA) in 1949 and 1951.
On November 19, 1951 he was drafted by the Philadelphia Athletics from the Yankees in the 1951 Rule V Draft. Thomas was 28 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 19, 1952, with Philadelphia. He played for Philadelphia in 1952 and 1953 and on June 30, 1953 he was selected off waivers by the Washington Senators from the Athletics. He also played for Washington in 1953, including his final major league game on September 27th at age 30. On March 27, 1954 he was traded by the Senators to the Chicago White Sox for Tom Wright and returned to the minors with the Memphis Chickashaws in the Southern Association that season, ending his baseball-playing career at age 31.
In the 1961-62 basketball season, he was a referee in the short-lived American Basketball League.
In 1952, his best year in the majors, he had 29 hits, 24 runs, 6 doubles, 1 triples, 6 home runs, 18 RBI and 0 stolen bases at (.250/.365/.474) in 75 games. In 1950, his best year in the minors, he had 156 hits, 109 runs, 42 doubles, 8 triples, 16 home runs and 111 RBI at (.283/~.372/.475) in 149 games.
Overall in the majors, he had 52 hits, 35 runs, 9 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs, 32 RBI and 0 stolen bases at (.233/.340/.395) in 137 games. In the minors, he had 89 home runs and 506 RBI.
During the 1950s he owned the popular Kite's tavern in Manhattan, KS and was said to dispense more beer than any other tavern in Kansas. After moving to North Carolina he owned the franchise for 37 Pizza Huts in the Eastern Carolinas. He had blond hair and blue eyes, his ancestry was English-Irish and his principal hobby was all sports. He died at age 71 at Rocky Mount, NC from cancer on January 7, 1995 and is buried at Abilene Cemetery in Abilene, KS.
Principal sources for Kite Thomas include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1954) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1953) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; The Texas League in Baseball, 1888-1958 by Marshall D. Wright; The Southern Association in Baseball, 1885-1961 by Marshall D. Wright; The American Association: Year-By-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.