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Frank Thomas: A Hall of Fame tribute

Illustration by Dave Merrell

'BIG HURT' IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGET

Frank Thomas was arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of his generation. A multisport athlete who had starred as a tight end at Auburn, "The Big Hurt" brought an intimidating physical presence to the plate, something impossible to forget if you were in the stands at the old Comiskey or the Cell. When he stepped to the plate, a hush fell over the crowd as fans focused on what the big man might do this time, and the next time, and the next. If one of the glories of the game is the absence of a clock, fans on Chicago's South Side could still tell time -- by when Thomas was due to bat, when concessions or chatter no longer mattered.

Before "Moneyball" helped inculcate a more general appreciation for patience at the plate, Thomas was an incomparable example of a hitter who would not be cheated. He led the league in walks and OBP four times while still producing prodigious power. He was the largest man to ever win a batting title when he batted .347 in 1997. Although the subsequent offensive levels of the game -- and the ways those were accomplished -- might have risked muting Thomas' early career accomplishments, he earned AL MVP awards in consecutive seasons (1993 and 1994).

Thomas remains one of just four hitters to wind up with career numbers of a .300 average, 500 or more homers, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks, and he is the only one who didn't debut before WWII (the others are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mel Ott). Thomas wound up with five 40-homer seasons, and hit 39 at age 38 to help propel the Oakland A's into the ALCS. He is and should remain the greatest slugger in White Sox history, as he owns franchise records for homers, extra-base hits, slugging, OPS, total bases, OBP, runs and RBIs.

-- Christina Kahrl


HALL OF FAME GALLERY

See more photos of Frank Thomas and the other five members of the 2014 class. Launch gallery »

FACTS AND STATS

BORN: May 27, 1968
FROM: Columbus, Georgia
TWITTER: @TheBigHurt_35
POSITION: DH/First base
SEASONS: 19 (1990-2008)
TEAMS: Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's, Toronto Blue Jays
HOME RUNS: 521
OPS: .974
CAREER WAR: 73.4

HONORS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

• 2,468 hits, 521 HR, T-18th all-time
• Five-time All-Star
• Second all-time in HRs as a DH (269)
• Won back-to-back AL MVPs in 1993, 1994
• Hit .300 every season from 1991 to 1997
• Member of 2005 WS champion White Sox


SOCIAL



QUOTES

"I've played with a lot of great players, and I've played against a lot, and he's the best I ever saw."
--Tim Raines

"The guy causes fear just standing at the on-deck circle."
--Nick Swisher

"It's so much fun watching him from the on-deck circle. I just sit back and become a fan just like everybody else."
--Eric Chavez

"The Big Hurt describes me perfectly -- not as a person, but as a player. It's what I do to a baseball."
--Frank Thomas