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Sneed: White Sox exec Kenny Williams takes high road on Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame nod

Chicago White Sox executive Kenny Williams (left) vents his anger about Frank Thomas manager Ozzie Guillen during spring training Sox

Chicago White Sox executive Kenny Williams (left) vents his anger about Frank Thomas to manager Ozzie Guillen during spring training at the Sox training facility in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 26, 2006. | Charles Rex Arbogast/AP file photo

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Updated: February 10, 2014 12:04PM



A baseball battle just got benched.

◆ Translation: An absence was noted at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday during a press conference tossed by the White Sox for their former star Frank Thomas, one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams wasn’t there.

Although White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf and Sox manager Robin Ventura were also not in attendance, it was Williams and Thomas who had a publicly rocky relationship.

Williams once called Thomas “selfish” and an “idiot” after he left the 2005 World Series-winning Sox to join the Oakland Athletics as a free agent after a contract squabble. “He’s the Oakland A’s problem right now,” Williams told the press in 2006.

But Williams has a terrific way of taking the high road. It’s one of the reasons I love the guy.

“It’s a great honor and a deserved one,” Williams told Sneed on Wednesday afternoon after it was announced that Thomas had been voted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. “Look, Frank and I buried the hatchet a long time ago.

“Anyone who thinks we still have a problem haven’t been witness to how we interact with each other now,” Williams said. “In the last 10 days I have been in Australia, the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles on White Sox business. There is nothing more important than the business taking place in the next few days.

“So I sent Frank a congratulatory message this morning via text and I imagine his phone has blown up with all the messages he has already been getting.

“If this business I’ve been on weren’t so important, there is no doubt in my mind I would have been there to give him a handshake and a hug.”

So what White Sox business is so important?

“There has been speculation over the last few days, but I like to keep things under the radar,” Williams said.

Hmmm. Rumor has it the White Sox are wooing Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, a Rakuten Golden Eagles team star.

Stay tuned.

The Rodman report . . .

Wow. The Rev. Jesse Jackson continues to dial back his initial thumbs up Monday to basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman’s diplomacy efforts in North Korea at the invitation of strongman Kim Jong Un.

◆ Quoth Jackson at a press conference Wednesday morning at Hope Presbyterian Church, 1354 W. 61st St., commemorating the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty:

“When the pingpong players went to China, they were not asked to redefine Chinese policy. When the [Harlem] Globetrotters went to Russia, we didn’t expect them to change Russian policy. They were basketball players. So when Rodman goes to North Korea, he’s just a basketball player.”

There ya go.

Pew news . . .

Cardinal Francis George— who is still awaiting word on whether his perfunctory letter of resignation submitted to the Vatican in 2012 will be accepted — will not be accompanying Pope Francis on his first trek as pontiff to Israel in May.

But George is speaking Thursday at Ezra-Habonim synagogue in Skokie at 7 p.m. to discuss a book co-authored by Pope Francis and his close friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, titled: “On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century.”

The Friday watch . . .

Sexting goofball “Carlos Danger,” aka former New York congressman Anthony Weiner, is not the only one making a cameo appearance Friday on the season finale of “Alpha House,” an Amazon Studios’ comedy starring John Goodman.

◆ So will former Channel 5 ingenue Jane Pauley, of “Today” show fame, who just so happens to be the wife of the show’s creator, uber-cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

Sneedlings . . .

Thursday’s birthdays: Jimmy Page, 70; Joan Baez, 73, and Kate Middleton, 32.



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