Friday, February 12th, 2010

Thanks, Frank

Yesterday, 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.

Do you remember your bachelor party at The Cell when he hit that towering bomb to left? I think it tied the game late, but I can't really remember. Frank was clearly one of the best hitters of the 90's and unfortunately played in a tainted era. I also think he was clean because the guy was already huge when he came into the league. If he had juiced he would've looked like Prince Fielder. When so many guys have been outed for PED use it's no wonder people are quick to accuse everyone. The height of his career came during the Jordan/Bulls dynasty which put all other teams in the city on the back burner. Add to that his surly disposition with the media & fans and you've got an image nightmare. But he didn't care & went out & did his job as well as anyone who's ever played the game. He is part of an elite group of four players (Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams) to have at least a .300 batting average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks in a career. Enough said. Love him or hate him, "The Big Hurt" is one of the best!
ozthegreat   Friday, February 12, 2010
Yes, I do remember that home run. That game was something like an hour and 15 minutes. Didn't both starters take no hitters deep into the game?

The White Sox announced that they will retire Thomas' uniform number (35) on August 29.
Bill Pearch   Friday, February 12, 2010
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