Jimmy Scott's High & Tight: The Gorman Thomas Interview Pt. 1
A picture may paint a thousand words, but that doesn't mean all the words are right. Gorman Thomas is the perfect example. My recollections of him were mainly from baseball cards and AP photos dating back to the late-'70s/early-'80s. In all of these photos, you see an incredibly serious Gorman Thomas, hair long and bushy, both on his scalp and his face. And the eyes were of a man who meant business. This was not a guy to mess with in a bar. This was not a guy to focus your road rage upon. This was a power hitter who could bash a ball with his bat or bash your head with his fists. He wouldn't care. You got a sense that he just liked to hit.
Part of that is true. Gorman Thomas loved to hit home runs. That's probably what he was best at during his 13-year career. Remember, before The Steroid Era, 30 home runs in a season was a really big deal. 40 home runs was a huge deal. Between 1978 and 1985, Thomas hit more than 30 home runs five times. Had he not lost 56 games to the 1981 strike, that would have been six times. In 1979, Thomas hit 45 home runs. Maybe opposing pitchers were as intimidated as kids looking at his baseball cards.
As you listen to the Jimmy Scott's High & Tight Interview with Gorman Thomas, you'll sense there was a completely different side of Gorman Thomas that didn't make it past the baseball card. There was the fun side, the practical joking side. Gorman Thomas was a serious man when he came to the plate, but he also knew how to have fun.
In the 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union, he would visit countires, including the United States, and jump out of his car to shake hands with people on the street. These were "real" people; this wasn't a staged event. He was an unpredictable man. It turns out, he may have stolen a page from the Gorman Thomas playbook.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the one baseball city in America where pre-game tailgating is as big, or bigger, than the game itself. Taking their cue from football, fans arrive hours before a game and eat, drink, play & laugh. When the game is over, they'll come back to the cars and repeat. Back in the Gorman Thomas Era, he'd join in post-game. Why not? They loved their beer and they loved their Brewers. Thomas was fortunate enough to play for a Milwaukee Brewers team that was competitive almost every year. In fact, they made it to the 1981 Division Series (a loss to the Yankees) and Game 7 of the '82 World Series (a loss to the Cardinals). But that serious man in the pictures you see knew and loved his fans and his team. Sitting down for a cold beer or three with Milwaukee baseball fans was a natural thing to do.
That's why, as you'll hear, it's almost sad what happened to his spirit after a trade midway through the 1983 season sent him to Cleveland, baseball's equivalent of Siberia in those days. Gorman Thomas lost his spirit, his passion for the game after that trade, and you'll hear him explain why. You'll hear why he stuck around and how he felt after another trade to Seattle and a final 44 games with Milwaukee in 1985 before hanging it up for good.
And this is only Part 1!
So listen, laugh and enjoy yourself, knowing that there's always a Part 2 to come your way. It's "Stormin'" Gorman Thomas, on Jimmy Scott's High & Tight.
Paloalto - Last Way Out Of Here
Adam Lambert - Whatya Want From Me
Chicago - Old Days
The Eagles - Try And Love Again
Soundtrack - Field Of Dreams