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Casey Christie

<p>Bakersfield Blaze first baseman, #29, Freddie Thon.</p>

To describe the Thon family's baseball legacy, three words come to mind: serendipity and kismet with a hint of tragedy.

Serendipity, in the sense that three generations of Thons developed a passion for baseball that resulted in professional careers at one level or another.

Kismet and tragedy, because two career-changing plays seem so connected, it makes one anxious to know what will happen next.

The latest chapter is currently unfolding at Sam Lynn Ball Park with each hack Freddie Thon takes at the plate, with each line drive he snares at first base.

For the Thons, baseball creates an interesting metaphor for life.

There's good and bad. Serendipity and tragedy.

Just look back to 1984

o o o

On April 8, 1984, Dickie stepped up to bat against Mets pitcher Mike Torrez. He was hit in the face with a pitch, breaking his orbital bone.

Dickie's brother, Frankie suffered a similar injury back in 1978, while playing in the minors with Cedar Rapids.

Same eye. Same injury.

The brothers' careers were never the same.

After numerous surgeries, Frankie's vision forced him to retire in 1981.

"I went backward with my vision," Frankie said.

He never made it to the major leagues.

Dickie, who at the time was an all-star shortstop, also required multiple surgeries. And, while he played until 1993, many said his career was never quite the same.

Frankie said he's had at least 29 surgeries on the eye and still gets double vision.

But back to 1984.

Frankie's pregnant wife, Blanca, was so distraught over Dickie's injury, the one that so closely resembled her husband's -- the only difference was Frankie's injury came in the field -- her water broke.

Freddie Thon was delivered premature on July 9.

It was kismet. It was only natural that, while growing up in Puerto Rico, Freddie drifted toward the comfortable sound of bat against ball.

While the game never came easy to Freddie, he never missed an opportunity to take the field.

"It's really all people care about," Thon said of baseball in Puerto Rico. "It was all baseball, all the time."

On worn fields full of holes and rocks, Freddie put in countless hours at the park.

And, while he remains unconventional, he is swiftly rising through the Rangers' system.

"He doesn't do it being beautiful, but he does it," said Frankie, who is a scout for the Rangers and signed Freddie in 2004. "I always have faith. He hasn't done anything yet. He's doing good. I think he has the ability to play in the big leagues."

Before being sent to Bakersfield over the All-Star break, Freddie was hitting .280 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 69 games for Single-A Clinton, Iowa.

"I had a pretty good first half and some things happened," Freddie said. "It was a really pleasant surprise. I'm very happy to be here."

Since joining the Blaze, Freddie is hitting .352 with six doubles and nine RBIs in 12 games.

"He's an aggressive hitter," Blaze manager Carlos Subero said. "He just sees the ball and whacks at it. He sees the ball and puts it in play. He's brought a lot to our team."

The Thon legacy goes even deeper than the trio. The story started with Frankie and Dickie's father, Freddie.

According to Frankie, the elder Thon played in Puerto Rico for 14 years in the 1940s. He was invited to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but made enough money as an engineer that he turned the team down.

The younger Freddie, is just the latest member of the family trying to make his mark on the baseball landscape.

From Puerto Rico to Villanova to Brevard Community College in Brevard County, Fla. and finally into the Rangers' system, Thon continues to get closer to his dream.

Frankie said he didn't want to be the one to sign Freddie to a contract because he didn't want his son to receive the stigma of nepotism.

He didn't want him to deal with, "the pressure of father son in the same organization. On the other hand, I want him to prove that he can play too."

So far, Thon is certainly living up to the family name.

When asked if he could be the third member of the family to suffer an eye injury, Freddie said he isn't worried.

"You've got plenty to think about on the field," Freddie said. "If you're thinking about getting hit in the eye, you're in trouble."

Seredipity, kismet and a dash of tragedy. It's the Thon's family baseball story and Freddie's just the latest chapter.