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Frank Thomas knew Sammy Sosa’s 60 HRs were ‘shady’

Updated: January 17, 2014 12:46PM



Frank Thomas has always stood tall on the subject of performance-enhancing drugs. ‘‘The Big Hurt’’ played when home run totals were exploding all around him, but the White Sox Hall of Famer has proudly maintained his innocence and hasn’t held back from calling out those he believes were guilty.

Thomas touched on the subject at length the day he was elected to the Hall last week, and he kept it up by characterizing Sammy Sosa’s emergence as a power hitter as ‘‘shady’’ in an interview for Jim Rome on Showtime. In the interview, Thomas calls out Sosa, his Sox teammate from 1989 to ’91 before Sosa went to the opposite side of town to become a superstar with the Cubs.

‘‘I knew it was shady when Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘Sammy Sosa was my teammate for three years coming up. So watching his career and watching him grow, for three years he was capable of only 20-25, 27 home runs at the most. . . . There’s no way Sammy doubled me up. With Mark McGwire, you really had to take a look at it because Mark McGwire had 48 home runs as a rookie.”

Sosa, who retired with 609 homers and 1,667 RBI, is the only player to hit 60 homers in three seasons. In his second year of Hall eligibility, he received only 7.2 percent of the vote after getting 12.5 percent a year ago. It takes 75 percent to get in.

Sosa was considerably smaller when he played with Thomas. In his first four seasons, Sosa hit a total of 37 home runs and batted .234. In 1993 he hit 33 home runs, and his numbers soared from there.

Sosa’s name was leaked in a 2003 report that 104 players had failed a drug test given during a screening before a testing system was put in place. He was one of several players to testify before Congress in 2005, saying he couldn’t speak or understand English well enough to testify. He did not fail a drug test under baseball’s testing program and wasn’t mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Thomas, a college-football player who played baseball at 6-5, 250 pounds or more, always has been naturally big and never has been linked to or suspected of using PEDs. When asked repeatedly about being clean during the steroid era the day he was elected to the Hall on the first ballot, Thomas talked less about others doing it the wrong way and more about doing it right himself.

‘‘A lot of people portrayed me as having a huge stance on the whole situation,’’ he said last Wednesday. ‘‘I was just pretty much honest about the situation. For me, I know I was 100 percent clean. I didn’t worry about any of the other guys because I knew I was going to average in a healthy ­season 40 [home runs] and 120 RBIs anyway.

‘‘I look at a couple guys, one in particular, we all know who it is, that was a Hall of Famer before all of this started for him.

‘‘I look at numbers and go, ‘Wow.’ I’m shocked at a lot of guys, their numbers. But if I didn’t get hurt for a 2½-year period, I still think my numbers would have been right there with the guys you’re talking about.’’

Thomas also shared with Rome that he’s rankled about facing the same suspicions other players do.

‘‘I hate to bring up names,’’ Thomas said, ‘‘but Skip Bayless even said the other week, how did I walk through the door without any suspicion? And I would like to have a conversation with him because I walked the walk and talked the talk from Day 1.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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