Frank Thomas is set to announce his retirement today.
Frank Thomas was Albert Pujols before there was an Albert Pujols. From 1991 – 1997, The Big Hurt was THE preeminent hitter in the game. The most feared – and consistent – right-hander since Joe DiMaggio, Thomas walked much more than he struck out, utilized his amazing plate discipline, raw strength and sublime hand-eye coordination to produce numbers that hadn’t been reached in seven straight seasons since Ted Williams.
I’ll always remember the agonizing decision over whether to draft Thomas or Ken Griffey Jr. first in our proto-fantasy leagues, front yard baseball. Being that Kirby Puckett & Don Mattingly were our respective ‘protected players,’ Jared would always draft the lefty, Griffey Jr. Being a right-hander, I was more smitten with the burly White Sox first baseman, the one who legend had it used to block for Bo Jackson when they played at Auburn together.
It was the awkward Frank Thomas 1990 Topps card – of him playing in the field, of all things – that first introduced me to the former fullback, but it was the clean, old school Comiskey, pre-gangsta White Sox unis Frank Thomas 1990 Leaf that had card collectors going crazy. That Walt Hriniak follow-through would come to symbolize Thomas’s swing, and help revolutionize the approach of the modern day power hitter. In his prime, he was the proto-Pujols.
Well-spoken and ready with an amicable grin, Frank Thomas is now pursuing a career in broadcasting as he awaits results of the 2015 Hall of Fame voting, of which he should be a first ballot inductee.