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The Big Bronze: Thomas statue unveiled

The Big Bronze: Thomas statue unveiled

The Big Bronze: Thomas statue unveiled
CHICAGO -- A man of Frank Thomas' size, stature and immense accomplishments needs two special days to completely honor his contributions to the White Sox.

So, Thomas had his No. 35 retired in 2010 during a ceremony at U.S. Cellular Field. And on Sunday, prior to the series finale against the Red Sox, the organization unveiled a Thomas statue in the left-field concourse. Thomas' statue joins others for Charles Comiskey, Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio (together), Billy Pierce and Harold Baines.

It seems only fitting that Thomas' statue has this specific location, considering so many of his franchise-record 448 long balls went in that particular direction.

"Frank has been the best hitter this organization has ever seen," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, Thomas' teammate, who is putting his name right behind some of the Big Hurt's 10 individual White Sox records. "So, I don't think this comes as a surprise to anybody. Five years into his career, people probably knew this day would happen, and have his number retired and all of that."

"I remember him beating us a few times," said Boston manager Terry Francona, who also once managed in the White Sox Minor League system. "When I was with the White Sox in the Minor Leagues, he was already in the big leagues. I got to come up here for a week in September, so I kind of know him. I do respect him. The numbers he put up were silly. He was so big and strong."

Thomas played 19 Major League seasons, producing a .301 career average, 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs, 1,494 runs scored, 1,667 walks, a .419 on-base percentage and a .555 slugging percentage. Sixteen of those seasons came with the White Sox.

When his jersey number was retired in 2010, Thomas became emotional upon thanking White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, his teammates, his managers and coaches, the fans and his family. On Sunday, with his wife and four kids in attendance, along with Reinsdorf, manager Ozzie Guillen and Baines, Thomas was a bit more stoic.

"This is the finale. This is it, the last curtain call, if you call it, with the fans here at the Cell," said Thomas, speaking to the media after Sunday's ceremony. "I'm happy today. I was going to make this a joyous day. I didn't want to cry anymore, I got all that out last year. I'm just excited and very thankful Jerry put this back together.

"You can never dream of anything like that. You can always dream, but it's only happened to a select few and I'm honored to be one of those select few to be out on that concourse."

During Sunday's 15-minute presentation, emceed by White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, Thomas talked about his love for Chicago and White Sox fans. He also talked about how most people in their lifetime don't get to see such an honor, let alone twice.

Next up for Thomas, the five-time American League All-Star and two-time AL Most Valuable Player, will be his first chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame, which will happen in 2014. While Thomas was willing to reflect on his exceptional body of work and take in Sunday's adulation, he didn't want to jump across that line of first-ballot election.

"Every time somebody mentions that, I cross my fingers," Thomas said. "There's nothing I can do. My resume's made. I just have to pray and hope just like everybody else that's in that position."

"He should be," said Guillen when asked if Thomas should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. "He did it the right way. I think he did it with the way it should be, a lot of work. I don't see why not. I think he should be."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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