Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Member, Washington Nationals Physician Bruce Thomas Dies Following Surgery Complications
By Space Coast Daily // May 4, 2023
Dr. Bruce Thomas died May 2 due to complications following a recent surgical procedure
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Prominent Space Coast doctor, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame member, and Washington Nationals physician Dr. Bruce J. Thomas II died May 2 due to complications following a recent surgical procedure.
In a statement shared Wednesday on social media, the Nationals said Thomas passed away after complications from a recent surgery.
“Doc Thomas holds an irreplaceable spot on our team and in our hearts,” the Nationals wrote.
“We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of a treasured member of the Washington Nationals family, our beloved long-time team physician, Dr. Bruce J. Thomas II. He passed away last night due to complications following a recent surgical procedure.”
Thomas spent 20 years on Washington’s medical staff, joining the team when they were still the Montreal Expos and conducted Spring Training at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. He previously worked for the Marlins.
In addition to his work with the Nationals, Thomas was also the LPGA’s medical director since 2006 and was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
“I really do have to pinch myself,” Thomas said eight years ago about working in sports medicine. “It is such a privilege. I love it intensely. I love helping the players.”
His son, Ryan Thomas, is currently Washington’s director of minor league operations.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Bruce Thomas was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, and the following is his tribute video and profile, first published in 2015.
ABOVE VIDEO: Dr. Bruce Thomas feels he may be the luckiest physician alive, for his job in sports medicine puts him right in the thick of the exciting world of elite professional athletes.
DR. BRUCE THOMAS – 2015 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
• Florida Marlins, Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals Team Physician
• USTA, LPGA Medical Director
LUCKIEST PHYSICIAN ALIVE
Dr. Bruce Thomas feels he may be the luckiest physician alive, for his job in sports medicine puts him right in the thick of the exciting world of elite professional athletes.
“I really do have to pinch myself,” said the Melbourne physician. “It is such a privilege. I love it intensely. I love helping the players.”
For a sports fanatic with a family lineage rooted in baseball, being the senior medical consultant and spring training team physician for the Washington Nationals is indeed a dream come true.
His father played minor league baseball for the Boston Braves, and his great uncle, New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt, was Babe Ruth’s roommate while the team was on the road.
Profile continued below>>>
Thomas grew up in Maryland, rooting for the Orioles and, at one point, thinking he stood a good chance at the major leagues. Eventually, however, Thomas realized that medicine, not baseball, should be his career path.
As it turns out, he was able to combine both, with golf, tennis, and wrestling, to boot.
Sports medicine was a relatively new field in the 1980s when Thomas first began ministering to the local high school sports teams. The work encouraged him to seek board certification in sports medicine, and he blended his original family practice with sports medicine.
In 1993, when the Florida Marlins picked Viera for the team’s spring training site, they looked for a specialist in sports injuries. Thomas was the only local physician in the field at that time.
Profile continued below>>>
For the next nine years, Thomas would serve as the Marlins’ spring training physician. The association even netted him a World Series ring when the team he helped keep in shape made off with the 1997 World championship.
After the Marlins left Brevard, Thomas became the team physician for the Brevard County Manatees minor league team and for the Montreal Expos. The Expos morphed into the Washington Nationals in 2004.
He also served as a physician for the United States Tennis Association, the World Baseball Classic, USA Wrestling and the China National Baseball Team during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Profile continued below>>>
SERVICE TO LOCAL PLAYERS MOST GRATIFYING
Since 2007, he has been the medical director for the Ladies’ Professional Golf Association, often helping as many as 100 golfers on a weekend with issues that range from everything from migraines to spinal problems.
He has amassed a network of high-level specialists he can tap wherever the athletes happen to be playing around the world.
While with the Marlins, he once ran into O.J. Simpson, who had heard of his connection with the Marlins and sought his help.
“He asked me to look at his knee, which was really swollen, so we went back to his suite and I gave him an injection to help,” said Thomas.
Thomas’ work with high-profile athletes is indeed glamorous and exciting, but it is his service to local players that he most values as a physician.
“I really enjoy helping young athletes,” said Thomas.
“They may not be famous, but they deserve to stay on the playing field and I want to make that happen for them. That’s the real sports medicine.”
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME