Friday, April 29, 2016

East Central Alum Marcus Thames inducted into Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame

Former East Central Community College baseball standout Marcus Thames was one of 15 individuals inducted into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 26, at the 10th annual induction banquet held at the Clyde Muse Center on Hinds Community College’s Rankin Campus.Thames, currently the assistant hitting coach for the New York Yankees, is the first ECCC baseball player to join the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame.The Louisville native played baseball at East Central in 1996-1997. Thames led the 1997 team with a then school record .420 batting average, 13 home runs, and 70 RBI. He was named NJCAA All-American, All-Region 23, and MACJC All-State following the season.Thames was then drafted by the New York Yankees.

Thames’ big-league career began with a first-pitch home run off Randy Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Yankee Stadium in June 2002. He was traded to the Texas Rangers in June 2003, again hitting a home run in his first at-bat. Thames was granted free-agency and signed with the Detroit Tigers in December 2003.

The 2006 Tigers won the American League pennant but lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Thames set career highs during the championship season batting .256 with 26 home runs and 60 RBIs in only 348 at-bats. In 2008, he became the first Tiger in team history hit eight home runs over seven consecutive games. He hit his 100th career homer in 2009.

Thames returned to the Yankees in 2010 playing in the American League Championship Series and completed his playing career in 2011 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. His career numbers were: .245 batting average, 115 home runs, and 301 RBI. He holds the Tigers’ franchise record for average at-bats per home run at 14.8 and reached 100 home runs in 1,549 at-bats—fewer than any other player with 100 home runs.

Thames began coaching in 2013 as hitting coach of the Class A-Advanced Tampa Yankees. In 2014, he was named hitting coach of the Yankees Double-A Trenton Thunder and advanced in 2015 to hitting coach of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. After the 2015 season, Thames was promoted to assistant hitting coach of the New York Yankees. Thames and his wife, Danna, have four children: Deja, Jade, Marcus Jr., and Ella.

Thames’ number “24” at East Central was retired in 2007 and he was inducted into the college Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

Thames joins East Central’s previous inductees Marcus Mann (2015), Evelyn “Snoopy” Bender (2014), Samuel “Sammy” Pace (2013), Richard Harris (2012), Dr. Clyde Muse (2011), Van Chancellor (2010), Joe Clark (2009), Earl Marshall and Lamar Blount (2008), and Walter Arno Vincent, Lucille Wood, and Denver Brackeen (2007).