Thank You, Frank Thomas

I’m really slow on plugging your blogs, but I’m almost done with my first one.  I promise.  But today, I need to blog about the first baseball player I remember watching, as he retired today.

As you have learned over the course of this blog, I started learning baseball and enjoying it in July 2004.  I had graduated high school and went to a Giants game, and I fell in love with a player before I fell in love with the game.  But when I was eight years old, back in 1994, I remembered watching a player for the White Sox.  I remembered my brother had a poster of him.

I watched Frank Thomas.

frank thomas 3 (insidethesox).jpgAt eight years old with no knowledge of how baseball is played, I watched a few games.  At that time, I had no idea I was watching one of the greatest White Sox of all time.  I watched.  I attempted to learn.  And I didn’t care.

When I started watching baseball again and actually caring about the sport, I didn’t watch tons of games.  Frank’s season had ended by the time I was able to watch White Sox games in 2004.  In 2005, he was injured while I was in school, and I spent the summer in San Francisco, so I wasn’t able to watch any Sox games when he played again in 2005.  So when it mattered to me, I never saw Frank play.  I only watched when I didn’t care.

It kills me that I grew up in a city where one of the best played, and I didn’t care enough to watch.  But I know that the White Sox were lucky enough to have him for fifteen years.  I could have watched; I should have watched.  But I didn’t.  Despite that fact, he was my first baseball memory.
frank thomas (midwestsportsfans.com).jpgFrank’s last at-bat with the White Sox was July 20, 2005.  My nineteenth birthday.  The Sox lost to Detroit, 8-6, and Frank went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.  But Frank had an amazing career.  He was a five-time All-Star.  He was a four-time Silver Slugger winner.  He was the AL MVP twice.  He was the 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year.  He was the 1995 Home Run Derby champion.  And he won a World Series in 2005.  He has a career batting average of .301, and he hit 521 home runs.  With the White Sox, he has a .307 batting average and hit 448 home runs, the most home runs by a White Sox player.

In addition to being generally awesome, Frank started advocating drug testing in 1995.  After he hit his 500th home run, he said, “It means a lot to me because I did it the right way” (Wikipedia).  I wonder what the state of baseball would be like if Major League Baseball had started testing when Frank started advocating.  I can’t say it would be better.  I can’t say it would be worse.  All I can say is I believe he was clean.

Thank you, Frank Thomas.  Thank you for being my first baseball memory.  Thank you for playing for the greatest franchise in the world.  Thank you for playing this game the way it was meant to be played: clean.  Thank you for everything.  I can’t wait to see you in Cooperstown in 2014, as I highly believe you are a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Thank you, Frank.  Thank you.

frank thomas 2 (insidethesox).jpgPhoto credits: Ron Vesely via Scott Reifert’s Twitter; midwestsportsfans.com; Ron Vesely via Scott Reifert’s Twitter

7 Comments

Great tribute to the Big Hurt. I’ll remember him being the bane to Blue Jays pitching during the 1993 ALCS, and his 500th home run in a Toronto uniform during the 2007 season. And given the pedigree you’ve listed, he is without a doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Frank Thomas’ presence will be missed in the batter’s box.

Jonah
http://jonah77.mlblogs.com

Frankly, Thomas was a bane on the existence of many pitchers and teams. I always liked Thomas; he was a hell of a player and a great class act.

My analysis on his numbers show that he had a Pujols-like career in his prime before the injuries hit him.

http://philliesmuse.mlblogs.com

Good tribute. Go Sox!
http://giftofgod80.mlblogs.com/

Hey Jen!
I’m kind of like you for when I started getting into baseball… I wasn’t into it as a child, and I regret that :(. Also, I struggled with liking it because of my gender, none of my friends liked it so I felt out of place. Now I don’t care :). Frank Thomas is probably the best DH of all time in my book… and one of the very few who did it the right way. Good for him, he has my vote for the Hall!
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Frank Thomas was an amazing baseball player and will be surely missed on the field. I wish him luck in his retirement and hope to see him inducted into the Hall of Fame soon!!Thank you Frank Thomas for your many years in baseball!!
-Holly
http://irishsoxkid19.mlblogs.com

Great story and well I can say the same thing with Craig Biggio who got his 3,000 hit the same day Frank Thomas got his 500th homer. The Big Hurt was a great person who was always smiling. David Ortiz reminds me of Thomas, as someone on SI I think said that David Ortiz was a big teddy bear on ‘roids (which he never was) Thomas was just like that from what little I saw of him.

Bob, http://bostonsports.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/02/fantasy_baseball-_outfielders-.html

Wonderful tribute to the Big Hurt!
I was introduced to baseball a few months before I was 21. A looong time ago. Being born in Honduras, soccer is the #1 sport there.
Hey! I will be in Camelback Ranch Friday and Saturday watching my Dodgers against your White Sox!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/
http://DodgersBlueBlog.com/

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