- 1B, 3B, OF, RF, DH
- August 13, 1949
- 6' 3"
- 200 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 7-28-1973 with CHN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1979 RC, 1982 HA, 1984 SS
Signed to his first contract at the age of 17, promising Andre Thornton overcame horrifying personal tragedy to become a valuable slugger for the Cleveland Indians in the 1970s and early 1980s. When the Tribe acquired him in 1977, they gave him his first full-time job and he blossomed, launching 28 homers. Tragically, that October, the van he was driving skidded off a road and into a ditch, killing his wife and young daughter. Devastated, Thornton relied on his strong Christian faith to help him through the aftermath. Amazingly, he set a career-high in 1978 with 33 homers, while driving in 105 runs. In 1979, the quiet Thornton was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award for his character on and off the field, as well as his committment to helping those in need. The DH/first baseman hit 20 or more homers six times for Cleveland, earning two All-Star selections and a Silver Slugger Award. Despite his powerful swing, Thornton was selective at the plate, walking more than he struck out during his 14-year career. He was the most popular player on the Indians during lean years for that franchise, and retired among the all-time Cleveland leaders in homers and RBI.
"Andy Thornton is as good a man as you'll find on the face of the earth." Bobby Bonds
"There is no doubt that the accident was like tearing the insides right out of me. My first wife and I both loved the Lord. She was a wonderful woman. We spent seven years together. I felt God's presence right there on that highway in Pennsylvania. I felt God's peace. Now I'm thankful that I knew Him years before, that I didn't have to come to that point in my life and see my wife and child lying on a highway and have no hope at all." — Thornton on the terrible car accident that claimed the life of his first wife and three-year old daughter, in October 1977.
Following the death of his wife and daughter during the off-season, Thornton had an incredible year. He slugged 33 homers, drove in 105, and scored 97 runs, for a team that finished 10th in the league in offense. On Opening Day against the Royals, Thornton hit a two-run home run. Two days later he drilled a three-run homer against Boston, and hit a solo homer the next day. On April 22, at Fenway Park against the Red Sox, Thornton had the best day of his playing career, hitting for the cycle, and going 4-for-5 in the Indians' 13-4 triumph.
On May 2, 1984, Andre Thornton walked six times in one game tying the all-time record held by Jimmie Foxx.
During the 1976 winter meetings, the Indians sent journeyman pitcher Jackie Brown to the Expos for Thornton, straight-up. The trade proved to be one of the best in Cleveland history. Thornton led the Tribe in homers seven times and played through 1987. Brown won nine games for the Expos in 1977, and was out of baseball.
Fortitude and class.
The Milwaukee Menace
Thornton absolutely clobbered the Brewers. In 103 career games against Milwaukee, he hit 31 homers and drove in 87 runs. He slugged .624 with a .308 batting average. In 1978 alone, he smacked seven homers off Brewer pitchers, driving in 19 runs in 15 games, while slugging .818 with a .439 OBP and .382 AVG. In 1982, he had 16 RBI in 13 games against Milwaukee, slugging .732 and batting .393 (22-for-56 with five taters). You would have thought that the Brewers would have stopped pitching to him, but the following year he was walked just three times by Milwaukee pitchers. Thankful for the opportunity to swing, he unleashed a .370 AVG in 11 games, with five homers, eight RBI, 11 runs scored, and a .804 SLG mark. He hit .308 with eight more extra-base hits (including four homers) against Brewer hurlers in 1984. His favorite targets were southpaw Mike Caldwell (.382 AVG against with nine doubles and five HR in 68 career AB), Jerry Augustine (7-for-16 with three HR), Bill Travers (three HR), Teddy Higuera (3 HR), and Lary Sorenson (.360 AVG).
Thornton belted six pinch-hit homers in his career.
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- Andre Thornton