Chicago White Sox legend Frank Thomas, a two-time Most Valuable Player, former league batting champion and member of the 500 home run club, has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux will join former White Sox manager Tony La Russa (1979-1986), Bobby Cox and Joe Torre in the Class of 2014, with induction ceremonies to be held Sunday, July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Thomas, 45, received 83.7 percent (478 of 571 ballots) of the votes, eclipsing the required 75.0 percent, to become the first former White Sox player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Including Thomas, Glavine (91.9 percent) and Maddux (97.2 percent), 47 players have been enshrined in their first year of eligibility.
"This has been a stressful 48 hours. I am so excited that I'm in the Hall of Fame," said Thomas. "This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out because you can only dream so big, and this is as big as it gets for me. I'm a Georgia kid. Going in with Glavine, Maddux and Bobby Cox means a lot to me. The whole state of Georgia is going to be there and I am just so blessed that I'll be able to be there with these guys."
He joins Luis Aparicio (1984), Luke Appling (1964), Eddie Collins (1939), Charles Comiskey (1939), Red Faber (1964), Carlton Fisk (2000), Nellie Fox (1997), Al Lopez (1977), Ted Lyons (1955), Ray Schalk (1955), Bill Veeck (1991), Ed Walsh (1946) and Hoyt Wilhelm (1985) as the 14th member in franchise history elected to the Hall of Fame, with the White Sox serving as each of the aforementioned players' "primary" team, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame. From that group, only Thomas, Aparicio, Appling, Faber, Lyons, Schalk and Walsh began their Hall-of-Fame careers in the White Sox organization.
"Congratulations to Frank Thomas on today's first-ballot election to Baseball's Hall of Fame," said Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox chairman. "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."
Thomas played 19 major-league seasons with the White Sox (1990-2005), Oakland (2006, '08) and Toronto (2007-08), hitting .301 (2,468-8,199) with 495 doubles, 521 home runs, 1,704 RBI, 1,494 runs scored, 1,667 walks, a .419 on-base percentage and .555 slugging percentage in 2,322 games. He ranks among baseball's all-time leaders in walks (10th), OPS (14th), home runs (T18th), on-base percentage (20th), RBI (22nd) and slugging percentage (22nd).
Thomas is one of four players in major-league history with a career .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks, joining Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. He is the only player in baseball history to bat .300 or better with at least 20 home runs, 100 RBI, 100 walks and 100 runs scored in seven consecutive seasons (1991-97).
A five-time American League All-Star, Thomas became just the 11th player in major-league history to win consecutive MVP awards (1993-94). He was a unanimous selection in 1993 after hitting .317 (174-549) with 36 doubles, 41 home runs and 128 RBI in 153 games when he led the White Sox to the AL Western Division championship and the team's first postseason appearance since 1983.
In 1994, Thomas captured his second straight league honor after batting .353 (141-399) with 34 doubles, 38 home runs and 101 RBI over 113 games of a strike-shortened season. With a .347 average in 1997, he became the largest player in history (6-foot-5 and 275 pounds) to win a league batting title. Thomas finished second in AL MVP balloting behind Oakland's Jason Giambi in 2000 after hitting .328 (191-582) with a career-high 43 home runs and 143 RBI.
Thomas, a member of the White Sox Team of the Century, is the franchise leader in numerous offensive categories, including home runs (448), doubles (447), RBI (1,465), runs scored (1,327), extra-base hits (906), walks (1,466), total bases (3,949), slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage (.427). He also ranks among the franchise leaders in hits (4th, 2,136), games played (4th, 1,959), at-bats (4th, 6,956) and batting average (7th, .307).
He was a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1991, '93-94, 2000), was named the 2000 AL Comeback Player of the Year and was a member of the White Sox 2005 World Championship team, his final season with the club.
In 2010, Thomas' No. 35 became the 10th uniform number retired by the White Sox, joining No. 2 (Nellie Fox), No. 3 (Harold Baines), No. 4 (Luke Appling), No. 9 (Minnie Minoso), No. 11 (Luis Aparicio), No. 16 (Ted Lyons), No. 19 (Billy Pierce), No. 42 (Jackie Robinson) and No. 72 (Carlton Fisk).
Thomas was selected by the White Sox in the first round (seventh overall) in the 1989 draft. He made his major-league debut on August 2, 1990 at Milwaukee and finished third in the AL MVP voting in 1991, his first full season in the majors.
Fans interested in seeing photos, videos and stories about Thomas' career with the White Sox can visit a website specifically created by the team and MLB.com at www.whitesox.com/thomas.