The Big Hurt, HOF? You bet.
Athlete Spotlight: Frank Thomas
Frank Edward Thomas, Jr. (Born: May 27, 1968) was a professional Major League Baseball player for 18 seasons. His massive stature and long ball ability made him a force to be reckoned with for almost two decades. A long career backed by multiple awards and outstanding statistics proves this man was built for power in the Major Leagues. However, many did not think this was the case in the earlier stages of his career.
Thomas grew up in Columbus, Georgia, where he attended Columbus High School. It was there that Thomas began to excel in three sports. By sophomore year, he was starting First Base in the clean-up spot for the baseball team. That same year CHS would win the Georgia State HS Baseball Championship. Senior year, however, was his coming out party. After an All-State football season as the school’s Tight End and a full season of starting at Power Forward for the basketball team, Thomas would have a monster year. After batting .440 over the course of the season, Thomas was setting his sights on the 1986 Amateur Draft. After watching many players get selected, including players he had faced and beat in his career, Thomas was devastated when he wasn’t selected.
Despite having his dream crushed, Thomas moved onto a scholarship opportunity at Auburn University. The thing was, it was for his talents on the football field, not the diamond. He accepted, but his love for the game of baseball led him to Hal Baird, the Auburn baseball coach. Baird recognized the potential and lethal hitting ability Thomas possessed. As a Freshman, Thomas led the Tigers in RBI’s and posted a .359 average. Not bad considering he was there for football. In 1987, he was named to the Pan-American Baseball team, which he left early for football. He then injured himself during that football season and lost his scholarship. However, he regained his scholarship for baseball. In 1988, his Junior year, he was named the Southeastern Conference MVP after posting a season with 19 home runs, 19 doubles, a .403 batting average with a slugging percentage of .801. His collegiate career was one for the ages at Auburn. He still holds career records for On Base Percentage (.527) and Multi-Home Run Games (8). He also still holds the season records for OBP (.568), Multi-HR Games (4) and walks (73).
Thomas was drafted seventh overall in the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago White Sox. This was the beginning of a career that will put power in the forefront. Between the years of 1990 and 2005 Thomas would play in Chi Town for the White Sox. He instantly became a fan favorite by finishing third in the MVP voting in his first full season as a major leaguer (1991). His stat line for this first full season? .318/32/109 with a couple of walks mixed in, 138 (led AL in OBP). That same season he would win his first of four AL Silver Slugger Awards. In ’93 and ’94 he had back-to-back MVP awards. Only two other first baseman in the history of the game have done so (Jimmie Foxx and Albert Pujols). In 1994, the baseball season was shortened due to a players’ strike and Thomas was in line to achieve one of baseball’s most prestigious honors, the Triple Crown. 1967 was the last time a player finished the regular season first in average, home runs, and runs batted in. Thomas was contending for the honor when the strike occurred. Between the years 1991 – 1997 Thomas finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting every year. After two down years in ’98 and ’99, Thomas won the 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year. From 2002 – 2005, his skills took a dive along with his numbers. In 2005, the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. Thomas was unable to partake in the event due to injury. However, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch of game 1 of the ALDS vs. Boston. With a standing ovation from the crowd, Thomas shed tears proclaiming the moment, “one of my proudest moments in the game.”
In 2006, Thomas rejuvenated his career once again, finishing second in the AL Comeback Player race and eighth in the MVP voting. He led the A’s to the postseason, and became the oldest player to ever have a multi-HR game in game 1 of the ALDS. Years 2007-2008 Thomas’ skills diminished with age, and his career wound down with the Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland A’s respectively. The Big Hurt retired officially from baseball on February 12, 2010. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014. The White Sox are revealing a full size bronze statue of Thomas during the 2011 season. His number, 35, was also retired the day that Frank Thomas retired.
Thomas now owns W2W Records. This is a record label he founded based in Las Vegas, Nevada. This record label has four artists signed: Swerv (hip-hop), Cardan (hip-hop), Bonnie Marie (pop) and BelleVoxx (pop trio).
Check the stats, awards, and accolades. Tell me this isn’t one of the best ever.
- 5 time All-Star (1993-97).
- 1993 ML Player of the Year.
- 2 Time MVP (1993-94).
- 4 time Silver Slugger (1991,1993,1994,2000).
- 1997 AL Batting Champ
- Retired as the all-time leader in home runs by a DH, with 269. He is currently 2nd, behind David Ortiz.
- Currently ranks 18th with career 521 HRs.
- Currently ranks 21st with career 1,704 RBI.
- Currently ranks 24th with a .554 career slugging percentage.
- Currently ranks 4th with 121 career sacrifice flies. He is the only player in Major League history to hit over 100 sacrifice flies and not collect a single sacrifice bunt.
- In ’94, Thomas achieved an OBP of 0.494 which was also the highest season mark for an American League player since Ted Williams’ 0.528 on-base percentage in 1957. No American League player has topped this since.
- His 138 walks in the 1991 season were the most since 1969 (Killebrew, 145).
- He was the third player (Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron) to collect 500 career HR and 120 career sac flies.
- First player in history to win a Silver Slugger at two positions (DH, First Base).
- On the list of players to hit 500 career home runs and have at least 1600 bases on balls. The others are: Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds.
- Thomas is on a short list of players who have hit 500 home runs while maintaining a career .300 batting average (Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramírez).
- 21st player to join the 500 HR club.
Wow. Put that in your cup and drink it in. It tastes good, doesn’t it? Sorta like, Hall of Fame?