As the big guy knocks on the door of the big 5-0-0, many Sox fans are sharing their Frank Thomas story.
This is mine.
In 1991, near the height of my baseball card obsession, the Sox had a promising rookie first baseman out of Auburn University. Not only could the guy could hit with the kind of power and might the South Side hadn’t seen since the glory days of Ivan Calderon, the guy could also draw walks and ten-pitch at-bats from even titans of the day like Dave Stewart and Jack Morris.
He was going to be something special. We all knew this. He was going to do great things for the franchise. And he did. But I, like a lot of guys my age, don’t remember him murdering AL pitching in 1993, or flirting with a Triple Crown in the 1994 that could’ve been, or being robbed of a third MVP award by an admitted steroid enthusiast in 2000.
No, what always did and always will make me smile is that the new face of the franchise was giving someone the finger on his rookie card while a younger, slimmer Sammy Sosa was grinning away in the background, laughing at a joke no one else got.
I hope the symbolism – about the Sox and Cubs, about the two mightiest sluggers this city has ever seen, about the following decade’s worth of home runs – isn’t lost on anyone. I can’t say Frank was ever my favorite player, but you have to respect a guy who’s done what he has, in the era he did it, without any outside chemical help. Knock ‘em dead, big man.