Thanks, FrankYesterday, word broke that former Chicago White Sox first baseman and designated hitter, Frank Thomas, will officially announce his retirement after 19 years in the majors today. Sixteen of those seasons he spent with the White Sox. He also made brief stops in Toronto and Oakland after leaving Chicago.
Without a doubt, he left his mark on the White Sox. In fact, he practically owns the team's offensive record book with 448 home runs, 1,466 walks, 1,327 runs scored and 1,465 runs batted in. These numbers demonstrate why he was called the "Big Hurt." Surely, his uniform number 35 with retired.
Though he was a great player, I did not always appreciate what he accomplished. There's no question about his numbers. He was one of the greatest offensive players of his era, but he unfortunately played in the steroid era. Compared to Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and the like, his numbers looked weak. I do not doubt for one moment that he played the game clean. He was the only player that volunteered to speak before Congress in 2005 to speak out against steroid use by players. Yes, he was the only one. That must mean something.
I only have a few regrets. I wish I appreciated his play more during his playing days. Being a Cubs fan, I appreciated Mark Grace's defensive play more than Thomas'. Besides, Grace played for my team. Thomas also made silly comments throughout his career that made him appear a bit more prickly than needed. Looking back, I also feel sorry that, due to injury, he did not get to play during the 2005 playoffs and World Series. He meant so much to the White Sox during the 1990s and early 2000s. It just didn't seem right that he was limited to throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in the playoffs and watching from the bench.
Thanks for a great career. Can't wait to see your statue on the South Side some day soon.