National Baseball Hall of Fame: Frank Thomas
Class of 2013
Name: Frank Edward Thomas, Jr.
Nickname: “The Big Hurt”
Teams: Chicago White Sox (1990-2005), Oakland Athletics (2006), Toronto Blue Jays (2007-2008)
Position: First Base/Designated Hitter
At 6’5” and over 240 pounds, Frank Thomas, known affectionately by Southsiders and baseball fans everywhere as “The Big Hurt,” is widely respected as one of the best hitters of his era. Despite his powerful frame, Thomas was far from just a power hitter, batting well over .300 in 10 of his first 11 Big League seasons, including an AL-best .347 in 1997. Thomas was named AL MVP in 1993 and 1994, a feat that would not be repeated until 2013 when Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera captured his second consecutive MVP award.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, Thomas was a standout player on the diamond as well as the gridiron and would eventually attend Auburn University on a football scholarship. After arriving on campus, Thomas approached baseball coach Hal Baird about joining the team. Baird immediately recognized Big Frank’s talent, and by the time Thomas was finished at Auburn he had hit a school record 49 home runs. He was named SEC MVP after his senior season.
Thomas was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2013, his first year of eligibility.
DID YOU KNOW?
Thomas missed playing with fellow two-sport star, Bo Jackson, at Auburn by one season. Jackson, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1986, left Auburn in the spring of that year. Thomas arrived on campus in the fall.
Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye once remarked that Bo Jackson was the best athlete he ever coached while Thomas was second. He added: “And I might have had it reversed. If [Thomas] had stuck with football, he’d be going in the Hall of Fame as a football player.”
Thomas credits legendary White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson with coming up with the nickname “The Big Hurt.” Harrelson would remark after Thomas’s second MVP season that in his 30 years in baseball he’d never seen anyone like Frank Thomas, adding: “In another 30 years we may be talking about Frank Thomas the same way we talk about Ted Williams.”
With 521 HRs, Thomas finished his career tied with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey.
Thomas still holds the White Sox franchise records for home runs, RBIs, runs, extra base hits, walks, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. The club retired his jersey number 35 in 2010.