Thomas Mullen Umphlett (May 12, 1930 – September 21, 2012) was a center and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played from 1953 to 1955 with the Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators.
The son of Daisy Mullen Umphlett and Willie L. Umphlett, he was a three-sport athlete (baseball, basketball, football) at Ahoskie High School, from which he graduated in 1950. At 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), 180 pounds, Umphlett - a right-hander - was originally signed by the Red Sox that year, choosing a professional baseball career over football scholarship offers to several universities. In 1950 with the Marion Red Sox, he hit .319 in 94 games. He made his big league debut on April 16, 1953 at the age of 22 and wearing the number 38. He hit .283 in his rookie season, displaying a great eye at the plate-he averaged one strikeout every 16.5 at-bats. He was #2 in Rookie of the Year voting in '53.
His career never really amounted to much after his promising rookie season-he'd end up hitting only .246 with six home runs in 360 career games (1,160 at bats). He averaged one strikeout every 10.8 at bats in his career. Never much of a threat on the basepaths, he stole only seven career bases. He had a .986 career fielding percentage. He played his final major league game on September 24, 1955. In 1954, he wore number 4. In 1955, he wore 22. According to Baseball-Reference, the player he is most similar to statistically is Art Kruger. He spent three of his seasons with Mickey McDermott—longer than any other teammate.
He managed the Short Season-Class A Auburn Twins in 1967, then moved up to full-season Class A with the Wisconsin Rapids Twins (part of 1968), Red Springs Twins (all of 1969) and the Lynchburg Twins (part of 1970).
By Dean Hanley
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