Fans of baseball in the city of Chicago
are a divided group. While the city unites in triumph or agony when it’s
football season, the days of summer finds a city divided. For fans on
the north side of the city, the fans are generally behind the National
League team, the Chicago Cubs. For fans on the south side, however,
there is the American League team, the Chicago White Sox. The debate
rages all season long over which team is more beloved and which team
plays better baseball.
When you talk to White Sox fans, however, and you ask them to name some of their favorite baseball players, there are a few names that stand out. Of players that have played the game within the last fifteen years, one name is likely to come up again and again. That would be the power-hitter and DH who played for the Sox from 1995-2005, Frank Thomas.
Few players have been as beloved and maligned at the same time as Thomas. However, for fans of the Chicago White Sox, Frank Thomas was known as “The Big Hurt” because of his ability to make other teams cry out in pain when he stepped up to the plate. Yes, he could hit the ball out of the park with the very best of them, but he was also known to draw walks and hit the ball where it needed to go in order to bring in runs. Although he remains known for his ability to hit home runs, the fact is that Frank Thomas was an all-around player and hitter.
Thomas a was disappointed when, in 1986, he was not drafted in the amateur draft. Instead, he accepted a scholarship to play football for Auburn University. However, once he got there, his deep love for the sport of baseball drew him back to that sport. The team immediately saw that there was tremendous potential there and they helped him develop his talent. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round in 1989.
Thomas initially spent time playing first base as well as hitting. However, his abilities at the position were never as powerful as his abilities at the plate. During his later years within major league baseball he primarily played as a designated hitter. He probably reached his peak in 1993 when he garnered 41 homers, a club record, and batted .317. That year he earned a unanimous American League MVP award, which was the first earned by a Chicago White Sox player since Dick Allen had done it way back in 1972.
Thomas left the White Sox in 2005, after earning his World Series Championship ring with them. He played with the Oakland Athletics for the 2006 season and then for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007 and 2008 before playing his final season in the majors back with the Oakland Athletics.
He ended up with 586 home runs and a batting average of .301. He also notched 2.468 hits and 1,704 RBI. He was a five-time All Star and a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He was an American League MVP two times, in 1993 and 1994. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2014.