While Frank Thomas will likely always be remembered for his 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland fans will always remember that when he last donned a MLB uniform, it was the green and gold (and a pair of white shoes).
“The Big Hurt” came to Oakland on a make-good contract following a bitter departure from the White Sox to begin the 2006 season.
He had spent his entire career with Chicago to that point and he wasn’t happy that the Sox had decided to toss him aside. Thanks for the memories, you’re no longer needed here, essentially. Out to prove a point, all he did with the A’s that season was club 39 homers and 114 RBI, finish fourth in the MVP voting and lead the A’s to the AL West Division Championship and into the American League Championship Series.
“We congratulate Frank on joining the immortals of baseball,” the A’s said in a statement. “While he only spent two seasons with our organization, we had the distinct privilege to experience his greatness as a player and as a person.”
“Beyond his special talents, Frank Thomas was the consummate professional who respected the game, his teammates and his opponents and he exhibited the kind of class every player should aspire to. He is richly deserving of this honor.”
Among the impacts he had beyond his own contributions to the box score, was the impact he had on his teammates, making them better merely by his presence in the lineup. There is no more evident case of this than Nick Swisher, who enjoyed a 35 home run, 95 RBI season to combine with Thomas’ power in the middle of the lineup.
Following the 2006 season, Thomas was rewarded for his resurgent comeback to greatness with a two-year contract, $18 million contract by the Toronto Blue Jays, though he would say that he had never wanted to leave Oakland. He played the entire 2007 season with the Blue Jays before being released by them after having played just 16 games in the 2008 season. He resigned immediately with the A’s and finished the season and his career in the Bay Area.
During his career he hit 521 home runs without ever being under the cloud of suspicion of the steroid era, and finished with a career .301 batting average. He was a five-time all star and a two-time MVP.
He will be enshrined in Cooperstown alongside other first ballot inductees Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and former managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and another Oakland legend, Tony LaRussa.
“I’m just so excited that I’m in the Hall of Fame,” Thomas said on MLB Network, shortly after hearing of his election. “You can only dream so big, and this is just amazing.
“The game has meant so much to my family and I my whole life. Today I’m just honored.”
Although no official promotions or plans have been announced by the Oakland A’s, there’s a high likelihood that both Thomas and LaRussa will be honored in some way during the season for their induction into the Hall of Fame.