VIDEO AND STORY BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN / email@example.com
Frank Thomas, whose blend of skills as a slugger and selective, high on-base percentage hitter helped make him the greatest White Sox hitter of all time and one of baseball’s best right-handed batters ever, has been elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Thomas received 83.7 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in balloting announced Wednesday, comfortably above the 75 percent needed.
“I am so short of words right now. It’s hard to think,’’ Thomas said on MLB Network. “I’m in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. I had a great career, I was blessed.”
Also elected were pitchers Greg Maddux (97.2 percent) and Tom Glavine (91.9), who were also on the ballot for the first time. Second baseman Craig Biggio (74.8), who led the voting in 2013 but was not voted in, fell just short. The Class of 2014 will be enshrined July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Frank Thomas on “playing clean”
The last time three players were elected was 1999 (Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount).
A patient hitter whose career .419 on-base percentage (20th all-time) was aided by 1,667 walks and a .301 batting average, Thomas was also one of the great sluggers of baseball’s modern era.
A two-time American League Most Valuable Player (1993, ‘94) who arguably deserved a third MVP award when he finished second to admitted performance enhancing drug user Jason Giambi in 2000, Thomas played 16 of his 19 seasons on the South Side, producing a .555 slugging percentage, belting 521 home runs (18th all-time) and 495 doubles, and driving in 1,494 runs (22nd all-time) and finishing with 2,468 hits.
The designated hitter and first baseman made five All-Star teams and finished in the top five in MVP voting nine times.
“I am so happy that people understand that yes, I was a 100 percent clean player,’’ Thomas said.
Frank Thomas on what induction into Hall of Fame means to him
Thomas’ dominant eight-season tear from 1990-97 was remarkable. During that stretch, “The Big Hurt” batted .330 with a .452 on-base percentage and .600 slugging percentage and averaged 39 homers and 38 doubles per 162 games played.
“It’s been a stressful 48 hours,” Thomas said. “I’ll be honest, I have to sit back the next three or four days and figure it out. This is just amazing.
“I’m just happy to be a part of the game, man. The game has meant so much to my family my entire life.
“I’m so blessed and happy for all the writers to vote me in because I gave everything I had and more.’’
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said:
“Congratulations to Frank Thomas on today’s first-ballot election to Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Induction into Cooperstown is the game’s greatest honor, and to see Frank’s plaque placed alongside baseball’s other outstanding hitters brings his White Sox career full circle. Frank is the greatest offensive player in White Sox history, a line drive hitter and on-base machine in a slugger’s body.
“He now deservedly joins baseball royalty like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Hank Aaron, as well as Sox legends like Louie (Aparicio), Nellie (Fox) and Luke (Appling), in Cooperstown. To have had the opportunity to see his career begin in 1990 and then end in the Hall of Fame has been a special privilege for me and for many with the White Sox, including so many fans who witnessed his greatness firsthand. Frank should be very proud today, celebrating along with his family, friends, teammates and every Sox fan who had the chance to cheer for The Big Hurt.”
The 2014 ballot included 36 players, with 19 new candidates and 17 returnees. Managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre were elected to the Hall by the Expansion Era Committee in December.
The BBWAA did not elect a player last season.