Nine things to know about Frank Thomas
BY BILL CHUCK firstname.lastname@example.org | @billyball July 24, 2014 9:01PM
Updated: July 24, 2014 10:14PM
1— Frank Thomas made his major-league debut Aug. 2, 1990, against the Brewers in the first game of a doubleheader. Thomas went 0-for-4 in the game, which included current Sox manager Robin Ventura and Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Thomas picked up his first hit the next day — a triple, one of only 12 in his career. Thomas never was known for his speed. Ozzie Guillen once said, “If Frank gets a base hit, it takes five hits to score him.”
2 — Thomas hit his first career homer off the Twins’ Gary Wayne on Aug. 28, 1990. His favorite victim was Mike Mussina, against whom he had 30 hits, including nine homers and 21 RBI. He had one homer off Goose Gossage, his only dinger off a Hall of Famer. Speaking of Hall of Famers, Nolan Ryan owned Thomas. In 15 plate appearances, Thomas was 0-for-12 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch and 11 strikeouts. Thomas hit .111 overall against Hall of Famers.
3 — Thomas had 1,465 RBI with the Sox. Only three South Siders have more than 1,000 RBI on their resume: Thomas, Paul Konerko (1,380) and Luke Appling (1,116).
4 — Thomas won four Silver Slugger Awards (two as a first baseman and two as a designated hitter); led the American League in on-base percentage four times; led the AL in on-base-plus-slugging percentage four times; led the AL in walks four times; and led the AL in hitting (.347)in 1997. But he never led the league in homers, finishing second four times.
5 — Thomas was the AL Most Valuable Player in 1993 and 1994. There have been 17 unanimous MVPs, including Thomas in 1993, and 12 back-to-back winners, including Ernie Banks in 1958-59.
6 — Thomas hit his 521 homers in 486 games. He had 31 two-homer games and two three-homer games. He hit 11 grand slams and four walk-offs, three of them for the Sox. Of his homers, 178 came when his team was ahead, 145 when his team was tied and 198 when his team trailed (52 tied the score). He hit 263 homers at U.S. Cellular Field and two at Comiskey Park. On June 28, 2007, Thomas became the 21st player to hit 500 homers. Playing for the Blue Jays, he homered in the first inning off Twins right-hander Carlos Silva at the Metrodome. Thomas hit more homers against the Twins (52 in 186 games) than any other team. In the ninth inning of that momentous game, Thomas was ejected for arguing a called third strike.
7 — From 1991 to 1997, Thomas became the only player to score 100-plus runs, drive in 100-plus runs, hit 20-plus homers, draw 100-plus walks and hit .300 for seven consecutive seasons. During that stretch, Thomas hit .330 with 250 homers, 830 RBI, 1,998 hits, 835 walks, 746 runs scored and 18 stolen bases.
8 — There are eight players besides Thomas who have hit at least 500 homers and maintained a career .300-plus batting average: Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams.
9 — The Big Hurt’s last appearance for the Sox was July 20, 2005, when he went 1-for-4. His final major-league appearance was Aug. 29, 2008, while playing for the Athletics. He went 2-for-4. Exactly two years after that, on Aug. 29, 2010, Thomas had his No. 35 retired by the Sox.