The bash before the ball.
Staying busy and reflecting upon his honors.
Retirement Press Conference
At U.S. Cellular Field. (2/12/10)
Jersey Number Retirement
Tears for what was, is, and what could have been. (8/29/10)
Bronze Statue Unveiling
Life-sized, but larger-than-life. (7/31/11)
You know. (1/9/14)
Despite the desire to continue, Frank Thomas would not play baseball in 2009, and so he began pursuing other non-baseball related interests, including various sponsorships and the redevelopment of his record label in the form of W2W Records. Also in that time, he and the White Sox organization began to make amends for the less-than-desirable separation they had endured nearly 5 years prior. On Friday, February 12th, 2010, during a White Sox sponsored press conference at U.S. Cellular Field, Frank made public his official intent to retire from Major League Baseball. Having not taken a professional swing in nearly eighteen months, Frank acknowledge the profundity of his 521 home run, .301/.419/.555/.974 lifetime, 19 years in professionally organized baseball, and made peace with the idea of hanging up his cleats. Immediately following Frank's announcement, the White Sox expressed the organization's intent to retire jersey number 35, in honor of Frank's accomplishments as a Southsider.
On August 29th, 2010, the club made good on its word and, in a pre-game ceremony, unveiled the Big Hurt's likeness and jersey number on the outfield wall. With this, Frank joined the prior Pale Hose greats who had received the same honor before him - Minoso, Fox, Appling, to name a few, and former teammates Baines and Fisk - promising no White Sox jersey will ever have the number 35 on its reverse again. That is, unless Big Frank himself is donning it.
In the time since Frank's official retirement, he has continued to grow his off-field legacy and has received further recognition for his contributions to the Game. On Sunday, July 31st, 2011, the White Sox unveiled a life-sized bronze statue immortalizing Frank's famous one-step swing in the left field concourse, where so many of his 448 home runs as a Good Guy had come to rest. More appropriate still, the ceremony would be held before the last game of a series against Boston, who, other than Minnesota, had suffered the maximum potential of that very swing more than any other team, including enduring both of Frank's 3 home run games.
Recognition of Frank's career hasn't been limited to the professional level. As one of the most prolific hitters in the history of collegiate baseball, and a multi-sport college talent, it was only fitting that Big Frank be included in the Inaugural Class of the Auburn University Baseball Wall of Fame. On Saturday, February 27, 2010, Thomas - alongside Auburn diamond greats Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson, and Gregg Olson - had his name and image eternally emblazoned on the outfield wall at Auburn's Plainsman Park. The most successful baseball player to come from Varsity Drive can now be seen at every Tiger Baseball home game.
As this text is written, a large portion of Frank's post-career attention is being focused upon the vastly spreading microbrew Big Hurt Beer, and its various forms, as Frank has consolidated his time, residency, and resources to be in Chicago-land more permanently. The pale lager has seen an explosion of popularity, growing from being given away at promotional events in the fall of 2011, to being on tap at Cellular Field and sold in multiple states, coast to coast, less than two years later. BHB's next big move is to Berwyn, Illinois. In the fall of 2013, the Big Hurt Brew House, a restaurant and microbrewery, is slated to open, showcasing the line's first two lagers and rumors of several in-house-only brews. The 6,500 square foot Brew House, inside of the historic Berwyn National Bank building, will also serve as a distribution point for kegs of BHB destine for other retail establishments.
It is certain that Frank Thomas' drive and determination will provide continued growth and notoriety; likewise, future accolades will be met and subsequent adoration thrust upon him. However, no professional honor is more deserved or more befitting of his career than enshrinement into the Halls of Cooperstown, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As we fans sit collectively at the brink awaiting what is to come, the only debate remaining isn't if, but, when?
As the most dominant and feared hitter in the Major Leagues for the greatest part of a decade, and as the revered veteran threat during his final history making seasons, the Big Hurt is worthy of 1st Ballot immortality. The election of Frank Thomas into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014 isn't only becoming of the man, but is good for Baseball. The Baseball Writers' Association, in one clean sweep, has the power to enshrine one of the largest, above-the-era, most dominant Hall of Fame Classes in the history of Cooperstown, and the Big Hurt is a perfect reflection of the principles the voters should reward. During Frank Thomas' career, Major League Baseball suffered blows whose repercussions can still be felt across the Game today. Yet, above it all, and at the forefront of the good fight, Frank Thomas has stood, vocally and proactively guarding what is right, not only for the Game, but for the spirit of competition.
At BigHurtHOF.com, it is the assumption that come January of 2014, we, the fans, will have something to celebrate.