Roy Allen Thomas was a left handed hitting outfielder for our Phillies from 1899-1908 and again from 1910-1911. Thomas was an exceptionally talented contact hitter, who batted .325 in his rookie season and drew an amazing 115 walks. In his second season, Roy hit .316 and led the National League in runs scored with 134.
Roy, over time, had perfected his ability to foul off pitch after pitch in an effort to draw walks. Some news accounts from his playing days report that he once fouled off 27 consecutive pitches, although, records show 22 as the more accurate total. In 1901, National League President William Hulbert grew so tired of watching Thomas frustrate pitchers with fouls, that he convinced the rules committee to institute a new two-strike rule, as related to foul balls. Prior to that time, fouls did not count as strikes unless the catcher caught the ball. The new rule, however, did very little to keep Roy Thomas off base. He went on to lead the NL in walks in 6 of the following 7 seasons. The American League would also adopt the new rule, but not till two seasons later.
Also a top notch fielder, Thomas, led all NL centerfielders in fielding percentage five times and twice led the league in put outs.
The Phils released Thomas early in the 1908 season. He would sign with the Pirates that year and finish the season with a .251 average in 108 games played. He signed with Boston and played in 82 games in 1909, then returned to the Phillies in a part-time role for the 1910 and 1911 seasons. He finished his playing career with a .290 average and .413 on-base percentage. In 1909, Thomas began coaching his alma mater University of Pennsyvania baseball team and continued to coach there while playing professional baseball. Thomas would coach U Penn for a full decade before managing briefly in the minor leagues.