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All Thomas needs is a cape

  • From day one, Frank Thomas was one of the best ever.
From day one, Frank Thomas was one of the best ever. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago…)
January 08, 2014|RedEye

It's the sports equivalent of that hot girl/guy finally calling you.

As of Wednesday, Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux are done waiting for that moment: The Chicago legends were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The inductions are July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Thomas, who spent the first 16 years of his 19-year career with the White Sox, garnered 83.7 percent of the vote.

We asked Soxman why The Big Hurt's election is such a big deal.

FRANK THOMAS IS MY HERO

By Soxman

The dictionary defines "hero" as "a mythological or legendary figure endowed with great strength or ability," "the central figure in an event," or simply as "a person who is greatly admired." My childhood hero had superhuman strength, was the central figure in the White Sox lineup for 15 years and despite not sporting a cape or wearing a cowl, HE WAS THE BATMAN.

On Wednesday, the baseball gods agreed by electing "The Big Hurt" Frank Thomas to an exclusive place for elite heroes: The Hall of Fame.

Paraphrasing Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the decision to elect Thomas is a can of corn. He's the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons of a .300 average and at least 100 walks, 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 20 home runs. The accolades are endless: five-time All-Star, two-time AL most valuable player and four-time Silver Slugger winner. If that's not enough, he also securely holds most of the Sox hitting records and likely will for the rest of my lifetime.

For most Sox fans, Thomas' countdown to baseball immortality began when he announced his retirement. But for me it began in 1989—the first time I saw him take batting practice. After signing a home run ball I snagged, I nervously proclaimed to him that he would be the best ever.

He thanked me, shook my hand and said, "I'll try to be."

Mission accomplished! Beyond every statistical feat, dinger or other game-winning heroic, there were memories too great in number to scribe.

His last in a Sox uniform came in an injury-plagued 2005. Thomas sparked a struggling offense when, despite playing on a broken ankle, he smashed 12 home runs in just 105 at-bats. We all know how that season ended.

With 100 percent confidence and without taint or a need for an asterisk, Thomas earned this accolade the right way: cleanly. As the first bona fide slugger from the "steroid era" to be elected to the Hall of Fame, baseball's validation of this is clear. He truly is the hero the South Side needed—and deserved. Bravo.

Soxman is a RedEye special contributor.

THE NUMBERS

>> 521 home runs (T-18th all time)

>> .301 batting average (2,468 hits)

>> 1,704 RBIs (22nd all time)

>> 2-time AL MVP

>> 5 Silver Slugger awards

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