Gorman Thomas is one of the most popular players in Brewers’ history. With his signature mustache and working-man’s physique, it is not hard to understand why, especially in a city like Milwaukee. In this edition of Brewers Past and Present, we take a look at the career of the man affectionately known as “Stormin” Gorman.
First Stint with the Crew
Gorman Thomas was drafted by the Seattle Pilots with the 21st overall pick in the 1969 amateur draft. He made his major league debut with the Brewers in 1973, but did not achieve the kind of success that made him so popular later on. He struggled on offense, only hitting above .200 in one of his first four major league seasons. In fact, in his four seasons combined, he had a .193 average with 22 home runs.
1977- To Texas and Back
On August 20, 1977, the Texas Rangers traded first baseman Ed Kirkpatrick for a player to be named later. Kirkpatrick played in 29 games for the Brewers at retired at the end of the season. In October of that year, the Brewers sent Gorman Thomas to Texas to complete the trade. At the time, it seemed like a steal of a trade for the Rangers. Gorman had played the entire 1977 with the Brewers’ AAA club, and had finished with a .322 average to go with 36 home runs and 114 RBI’s.
Thomas, however, never played a game for the Rangers. Later in the off-season, on February 8, 1978, the Rangers sold Thomas back to Milwaukee. Gorman was back, even though he never really left, and brighter days were ahead.
The Glory Days: 1978-1982
Fresh off of a career year in the minors, Gorman Thomas made the opening day roster for the Brewers in 1978. Always prone to striking out (but also taking a lot of walks), Gorman never posted high batting averages with the Brewers. However, his power numbers made him one of the most popular players on the team in the eyes of the fans.
In his second stint with the Brewers, Thomas hit .245 with 175 home runs. In 1979, Gorman hit .246/.351/.515 with 45 home runs and 123 RBI’s. His 45 homers led the American League and stood as the Brewers’ team record until Prince Fielder hit 50 in 2007 (it was matched by Richie Sexson in 2001 and 2003). Thomas also led the AL with 175 strikeouts that season. However, he did finish seventh in MVP voting.
Stormin’ Gorman made his only All-Star appearance in the strike-shortened 1981 season. In just 103 games, Thomas hit .259/.348/.493 with 21 home runs and 65 RBI’s. The next season, Thomas’ power helped propel the Brewers to a World Series berth. He hit .245/.343/.506 with 39 home runs and 112 RBI’s. He, again, led the AL in home runs that season and finished eighth in the MVP vote.
The Brewers traded Gorman Thomas to the Cleveland Indians midway through the 1983 season. In 1984, with Seattle, Thomas suffered a severe should injury that limited him to just 35 games (and a .157 batting average). In 1985, Stormin’ Gorman returned to form and hit .215/.330/.450 with 32 home runs and 87 RBI’s. One of his most notable achievements that year was homering off of Roger Clemons in his famous 20-strikeout game. Stormin’ Gorman was awarded the American League Comeback Player of the Year for his production that season. However, it was to be his last productive season and he retired from baseball following the 1986 season.
Gorman Thomas is a Milwaukee legend. Any fan who saw him play will tell you that he was one of their favorite players, if not their all-time favorite. What many don’t realize, though, is that for a time, Gorman Thomas was the best home run hitter in the game.
During Thomas’ second stint with the Brewers, particularly from 1978-1982, no one in Major League Baseball hit more home runs than he did. His 208 career home runs as a Brewer are good for fifth on the Brewers’ all-time list. His 501 career walks as a Brewer also rank him fifth in Brewers’ history.
Today, Stormin’ Gorman can still be seen around in Wisconsin. He is known to show up to festivals to sell his Stormin’ Sauce, a mustard-base sauce that he developed with his own recipe (you can find it at Piggly Wiggly or Woodmans’). He is also a motivational speaker and has made appearances speaking to major and minor companies throughout the state.
More in the Series
Interested in reading more about former and current Brewers? Check out the other players who have been a part of our series thus far:
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