Bill Thomas was born and raised in Bakersfield, attending Highland Elementary and Standard Jr. High. In an indication of what was to come, he was elected 8th grade Student Body President at Standard. He was tutored in sports as a youngster by coaches Paul Henry and Jack Denison. They must have done something right.
Thomas became an outstanding scholar/athlete at North, excelling in football, basketball and baseball. He started all four years on the basketball team under coaches Joe Goode and Lloyd Williams and was named all-SYL in 1968 and 1969, leading the league in scoring as a senior. He also tied a single game scoring record in a game in the Kern County Invitational Tournament with 36 points and finished his career as North’s all-time leading scorer.
On the baseball diamond, Thomas played on the varsity team for two years under Coach Sam Barton, making all-league pitcher as a junior and senior. In one game as a senior, he smacked a game-winning walk-off homer, calling it one of his favorite moments from his career.
Thomas played just one year of football. As a senior, under the legendary coach Turk Eliades, he was the starting quarterback. The three-sport excellence earned him the prestigious Sam Lynn Award in 1969.
After graduation, he attended Bakersfield College and played baseball under Walt Johnson and Pete Lango, before moving on to UCLA. While a Bruin, he set the school’s ERA record (1.66) while playing for Coach Art Reichle. He had the honor of meeting the great basketball coach John Wooden while at UCLA. His greatest memory from UCLA was pitching a 5 to 2 complete game victory over the California Angels, in a Spring Training Exhibition game.
Bill returned to Bakersfield after graduating from UCLA with his Doctorate in Dental Science. He has been practicing for 37 years in his office not far from North High. In the early 1980’s, he was the clinical instructor for BC’s Dental Assisting Program. Because of his commitment to BC, he was honored as one of the recipients of the 100 Stars Award program during the school’s 100-year anniversary.
Bill and his wife Linda have three daughters Laura, Katherine and Julianne. All were North high graduates, and all former North High girls’ varsity basketball players.