Home run No. 93 of Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame career may have been his most dramatic of the Sox ‘93 West Division title season.
On Aug. 13, Frank’s two-run home run in the eighth inning lifted the Sox to a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Kansas City before a jacked up gathering of 34,272 at Comiskey Park.
After Steve Sax fired up the crowd with three sparkling plays at second base in the top of the inning, Ron Karkovice ignited the rally with a double and then scored on Warren Newson’s pinch single. Thomas then sent a 1-0 pitch by Royals’ closer Jeff Montgomery into the left-field bleachers.
The victory enabled the Sox to open a 3.5-game lead over the Royals in the A.L. West.
For starters, Tim Anderson (@TimAnderson7) was the only @WhiteSox player who started in the same position on the final day of the season as he did on Opening Day.
In between those Anderson starts, the Sox continued to overhaul their roster and the farm system.
No matter the record or the state of the franchise, there are always nuggets.
Here’s a look back, in particular order, at 2017, @SoxNerd style!
*2017 marked just the fifth time the Sox posted a winning record against the eventual World Series champions. The Sox went 4-2 against the Astros in 2017. … Other winning records vs. future champs: 3-1 vs. 2014 Giants; 3-0 vs. 2006 Cardinals; 8-4 vs. 2000 Yankees and 8-5 vs. 1991
*Avisail Garcia’s 455-foot blast off Tampa’s Jake Odorizzi on June 8 at Tropicana Field was the Sox longest homer of the season
*The combined .279 average by catchers Geovany Soto, Kevan Smith, Omar Narvaez and Rob Brantly was tied for the fifth-best in Sox history
*Matt Davidson had the Sox top exit velocity on a home run of 2017 at 113.2mph on his 433-foot dinger on July 24 at Wrigley Field
*The last time the Sox had a higher ERA than the 4.78 they had in 2017, they won the World Series the next year (4.91 in 2004)
*2017 was the first season the White Sox did not have a complete game (previous low: 3 in 2014)
*Jose Abreu’s 43 doubles were the most by a Sox player since Magglio Ordonez’s 46 in 2003
*Todd Frazier led the Sox with 48 walks, lowest total to lead the team since Lamar Johnson’s 43 in 1978
*Miguel Gonzalez was the first righty to lead the Sox in wins (tied with Derek Holland at seven) since Gavin Floyd (13) in 2008
*Derek Holland’s 135 innings were the lowest total ever to lead the Sox (next Melido Perez 183.1 in rebuilding 1989)
*Jose Quintana’s 109 strikeouts were the lowest total to lead the Sox in a full season since Billy Pierce’s 95 in 1949
*David Robertson’s 14 saves were the lowest total to lead the Sox since Tom Gordon’s 12 in 2003
*Anderson’s 94 percent stolen base success rate was the highest by any Sox player with at least 16 stolen base attempts (15-of-16)
*Smith set a Sox rookie record for catchers with a .283 average in 2017
*Jose Abreu’s 43 doubles were the second-best total by a first baseman in club history behind Frank Thomas’ (aka @TheBigHurt_35) 46 in 1992
*Yoan Moncada joins Alexei Ramirez, Tadahito Iguchi, Jim Morrison, Jayson Nix and Rich McKinney as the only Sox rookie second basemen with at least eight homers in a season
*Anderson is the youngest shortstop (age 24) in Sox history with a double digit homer season (17 in 2017)
*Abreu posted the 19th .300/30HR/100RBI campaign in Sox history and 13 of those seasons have been posted by players who appeared some at first base
*Yolmer Sanchez’s eight triples were the most by a Sox switch-hitter since Ray Durham had 10 in 2001
*Since 1950, only Thomas had a higher Sox average than the .330 Avisail Garcia (aka @avisailgarcia) posted in 2017
*Abreu finished with the fourth-best total base output (343) in Sox history
*Garica’s .330 average is tied for the 29th-best output in franchise history
*Garcia’s .330 average is the highest by a Sox player since Thomas’ .337 in 1997
*The last Sox first baseman to amass more than the six triples Abreu had in 2017 was Carlos May with seven in 1971
*The only Sox player shorter than the 5-foot-8 Leury Garcia to record a multi-homer game was the 5-7 Mike Kreevich on June 10, 1938. Garcia hit two homers on May 12 vs. the Padres.
*The last Sox player shorter than the 5-8 Garcia to hit more than the nine homers Garcia hit in 2017 was the 5-7 Don Buford, who went deep 10 times in 1965
*Anderson became the fourth Sox draftee to lead the club in stolen bases along with May, John Cangelosi and Ray Durham
*Abreu became the first player to lead the Sox in RBI in four straight seasons since Thomas did it from 1991 to 1997
*The seven wins Holland and Gonzalez each posted to lead the Sox were the lowest total ever to lead the club
*Abreu paced American League first basemen with 102 RBI
*Narvaez tied for sixth among American League catchers with 38 walks
*A. Garcia led the American League with a .349 average in night games
*This is the third straight year a Sox player led American League outfielders in assits (A. Garcia in 2015 and 17 and Adam Eaton in 2016)
*A. Garcia led the big leagues with a .424 average against lefties
On this date in 2000, White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas finished second in the American League MVP voting to Oakland’s Jason Giambi in results released by the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Giambi polled 317 points while Thomas had 285 in falling short of his third MVP Award.
Thomas was the driving force behind the Sox surprising run to the American League Central crown, hitting .328 with a career-high 43 homers and 143 RBIs.
Giambi hit .333 with 43 homers and 137 RBIs.
In hindsight, these results look like a joke because Giambi is an admitted steroid user.
Frank, on the other hand, publicly railed against steroid use.
One of the complaints levied against Frank throughout his career was that he didn’t smile enough or seen happy.
Can you blame him?
During his career, Thomas watched players of lesser talent who were suspected users grab headlines, records and accolades while he just did his thing year after year.
Frank did get a chance to vent in 2005 when he testified before Congress.
He concluded his statement by saying: “I have been a major league ballplayer for 15 years. Throughout my career, I have not used steroids. Ever.”
Compare that to what you recall Giambi saying about the subject.
Frank also had the last laugh in Cooperstown in 2014.
Also in the 2000 voting, White Sox right fielder Magglio Ordonez finished 12th after hitting .315 with 32 homers.
This marked the first time since 1994, when Thomas finished first, Julio Franco finsiehd eighth and Jason Bere finished 23rd that the Sox had more than one player receive votes for this award.
Here’s a look at some noteworthy @WhiteSox events that happened on this date to feed your Sox fix …
My favorite game from this day …
*1974, KAAT, ALLEN DERAIL RYAN EXPRESS: Lefty Jim Kaat bested Nolan Ryan, who carried a no-hitter into the ninth, in the White Sox 2-1 win over California before 11,636 at Comiskey Park.
Kaat’s only mistake was a second-inning home run ball to Frank Robinson.
The Sox made Kaat a winner in the ninth when Ken Henderson drove in Dick Allen with the tying run and Bill Sharp brought home B.B. Richard with the game-winner.
Allen ruined Ryan’s no-hitter with a one-out single in the ninth.
Kaat gave up six hits with three strikeouts in improving to 13-8. Kaat, who was 4-0 against California, was 21-13 in 1974.
Ryan struck out 13 in falling to 14-12.
More from this date …
*1910, NO. 1 SHUTOUT: Future Hall of Famer Ed Walsh fired a two-hitter in logging the first shutout at the Comiskey Park in the White Sox 4-0 win over Washington. The Sox tallied single runs in the second, third, sixth and eighth inning in improving to 38-58.
*1915, ODD POSITIONING: With Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson in right field and Hall of Fame outfielder Sam Rice on the mound for the Senators, the White Sox prevailed 6-2 in Washington. The victory halted the Sox six-game losing streak.
*1916, PITCHER STEALS HOME! Pitcher Reb Russell swiped home and got the victory in the third inning of the first-place White Sox 7-1 win over Boston. Chicagoan Jack Ness fell a double shy of the cycle as the Sox banged out 13 hits.
*1925, TED TERRIFIC: Future Hall of Famer Ted Lyons twirled a three-hitter in outdueling fellow future Hall of Famer Red Ruffing in the White Sox 2-0 win in Boston. Lyons walked four and fanned one in improving to 16-6. Willie Kamm and Earl Sheely each drove in a run as the Sox won by shutout for the second straight day.
*1931, TOUGH RED: The legendary Red Faber surrendered five singles in blanking the Browns in the White Sox 2-0 win at Comiskey Park. The future Hall of Famer also doubled and scored as part of his sixth win.
*1935, I CAN NOT TELL A LIE … SOX WIN IN OT: Outfielder George Washington’s two-run single in the 10th handed the White Sox a 2-1 win in Cleveland. Washington’s hit scored Al Simmons and Zeke Bonura and helped the Sox survive Cleveland’s rally in the 10th.
*1956, DROPO THE HERO: Veteran Walt Dropo scored the winning run in the first game and drove in the game-winner in the nightcap as the White Sox swept a doubleheader from Kansas City with a pair of walkoff victories before 5,397 at Comiskey Park. In Game 1, Dropo scored on Jim Rivera’s 10th inning triple to give the White Sox a 5-4 win. In the nightcap, Dropo drove in Sherm Lollar with a 10th inning for a 4-3 Sox win. Prior to Game 2, the White Sox Dave Philley was ejected for continuing an argument with Red Flaherty that started in the opener.
*1960, WALKOFF SWEEP: The White Sox scored a pair of walkoff wins – and Gerry Staley was the victor in both contests — in sweeping a doubleheader from Washington before 25,843 at Comiskey Park. Gene Freese’s two-run homer in the ninth powered the Sox to a 9-7 win in the opener while Minnie Minoso’s single in the ninth got the Sox a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
*1966, MOOSE SPARKS COMEBACK: Chicagoan Moose Skowron’s homer in the ninth tied it and Wayne Causey’s two-run triple in the 10th broke gave the Sox the lead in a 9-8 win at California. The Sox had to survive an Angel usprising in the 10th as Dennis Higgins came on to get the game’s final out for his third save.
*1981, BASEBALL IS BACK: The White Sox and Cubs battled to a scoreless tie before 27,048 in an exhibition game at Comiskey Park as baseball finally returned to Chicago after the game’s first protracted work stoppage. The game was the first in Chicago since June 11. The players went on strike June 12. The Sox gave away 10,000 batting helmets and staged a Sox-Cubs old-timers game before the exhibition. The teams also played the next day, this time at Wrigley Field.
*1990, NO. 1 FOR ALEX: Rookie Alex Fernandez notched his first Major League victory in the White Sox 5-3 win at Kansas City. Fernandez scattered nine hits in six innings. Bobby Thigpen, on course for a record-setting season, tossed the final 1.1 innings for this 36th save. The White Sox erased a two-run deficit with a three-run fifth behind a two-run single by Sammy Sosa and an RBI triple by Phil Bradley.
*1993, BLACK JACK DEALING: Future Cy Young winner Jack McDowell won his sixth consecutive start in the White Sox 6-4 win over the Angels before 42,535 at Comiskey Park. The Sox improved to 60-49 and increased their lead to 4.5 games in the AL West. Ron Karkovice homered twice for his 14th and 15th dingers of the season. McDowell (18-6) got help from Roberto Hernandez, who fanned Chad Curtis with the tying runs on base in the ninth inning for his 23rd save.
*1994, SPANKY GOES DEEP: Catcher Mike LaValliere’s first homer with the White Sox, a two-run shot in the ninth, forced extra innings in the White Sox 10-5 win in 12 innings over the Angels in Anaheim. Jose DeLeon fired 4.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory. Frank Thomas drove in two runs in reaching the century mark for the fourth consecutive season.
*1999, NO. 300 FOR FRANK: Future Hall of Famer Frank Thomas’ 300th home run accounted for the White Sox only highlight in an 11-1 loss to the Athletics in Oakland. Thomas reached the milestone off Kevin Appier in the sixth inning. Thomas became the 84th player in big league history and the 16th active player to reach the 300-homer plateau. Thomas also joined Barry Bonds, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only active players with 300 home runs, 1,000 RBI and 1,000 walks.
*2001, NO. 100 FOR MAGGS: Right fielder Magglio Ordonez hit his 100th home run in a 9-3 loss at Anaheim. Ordonez’s blast, a solo shot, came in the ninth off Mark Lukasiewicz. Ordonez became the 10th player in White Sox history to reach the century mark in dingers. He reached the milestone in his 585th game with the White Sox. Only Frank Thomas hit 100 homers with the White Sox in fewer games. “Big Frank” clubbed his 100th homer in his 506th game.
*2005, FUTURE CHAMPS WIN: The future World Series champion White Sox got a two-run homer from Paul Konerko and a solo shot from Joe Crede in downing Seattle 3-1 before 35,706 at US Cellular Field. Jon Garland got his 16th win and Dustin Hermanson pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save.
*2013, A WALKOFF TRIPLE! Outfielder Alejandro De Aza’s two-run triple in the 12th delivered the White Sox a 6-5 win over the Yankees before 25,707 at U.S. Cellular Field. The Yankees took the lead in the top of the frame when Dylan Axelrod yielded a homer to Robinson Cano. The walkoff triple was the Sox first since Lyle Mouton came through with the game-winner on May 22, 1996.
What we have learned the last few days, @soxnerd style!
*CLEANING IT UP: Prior to Yoan Moncada’s arrival, it had been a while since the White Sox had a second baseman break on through to the cleanup spot.
Moncada is the first @whitesox second sacker to hit fourth since Jim Morrison — the slugger not the singer — batted there on June 20, 1980 against Detroit at Comiskey Park. Ed Farmer took the loss that day, by the way.
Moncada made his third Sox start at cleanup in Thursday’s series opener in Boston.
Speaking of Boston …
Moncada is the first Sox second baseman to start out of the fourth hole vs. Boston since fellow former Red Sox Mike Andrews on Aug. 22, 1972 at Comiskey Park.
The last time a Sox second baseman started at cleanup in Boston prior to Moncada on Thursday was Cass Michaels on May 5, 1950.
*A CONSTANT: This will mark the 117th consecutive season the White Sox will battle their red counterparts in Boston.
The first White Sox game in Boston was June 17, 1901 when the home team win the first game as part of a doubleheader split.
This is the 107th year in a row the White Sox are playing in Fenway Park.
Did you know the White Sox spoiled the formal dedication of Fenway Park. On May 17, 1912, among parades, pomp, circumstance and dignitaries, the White Sox prevailed 5-2 with winning pitcher Ed Walsh going 3-for-3. The White Sox used a four-run ninth to win.
*NO. 634: Rookie Nicky Delmonico became the 634th player to homer for the White Sox with his first career homer on Thursday.
And this from Nerd pal @ckamka …
Last 3 #WhiteSox whose first MLB HR came at Fenway Nicky Delmonico tonight Tim Anderson 6/21/2016 Greg Norton 9/14/1996
*CLEANUP KEVAN: Moncada wasn’t the only Sox player hitting in rare air in the fourth hole recently.
On Wednesday, Kevan Smith was the first Sox catcher to cleanup since A.J. Pierzynski on Sept. 27, 2011 and the first right-handed hitter to do it since Carlton Fisk on Oct. 1, 1991.
Digging deeper, Smith was the first Sox rookie catcher to start at cleanup since Matt Merullo on July 2, 1991. In addition, Smith was the first right-handed hitting rookie catcher to start out of the fourth spot since John Romano on Sept. 12, 1959.
*BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS: The recently-completed sets vs. the @cubs and @Indians marked the first time the Sox had played the defending league champs in consecutive series at home.
This was the second time and second year in a row the Sox played the reigning World Series teams in back-to-back series. In 2016, the Sox played at Kansas City May 27-29 before heading to New York to play the Mets May 30-June 1 in the MATT ALBERS SERIES.
Other seasons in which the Sox played both of the previous years World Series teams were 2003 (Giants and Angels), 2004 (Marlins and Yankees), 2008 (Rockies and Red Sox) and 2011 (Cardinals and Rangers).
*A HIT BY A PITCHER: Here’s what I excavated in the wake of pitcher Carlos Rodon’s two-run double on July 25 at Wrigley Field:
–Rodon’s two RBI were one more than Sox pitchers amassed between 2013 and July 24, 2017
*SIR PAUL: Sir Paul McCartney played three songs on July 25-26 at the the Hollywood Casino and Amphitheater and Casino that he and The Beatles played during their Aug. 20, 1965 day-night doubleheader at Comiskey Park: I Wanna Be Your Man, Can’t Buy Me Love and A Hard Day’s Night.
*NOTE: The Baseball Reference website and Play Index rocks!
As a White Sox fan, I wanted to love Frank Thomas the way Cubs fans loved Ernie Banks.
Frank wouldn’t allow it, though.
“The Big Hurt” was a lot of things throughout a Hall of Fame career, which was validated by vote three years ago Sunday.
He was uniquely talented, edgy, historically dominant, bitter, moody, angry and outspoken.
A warm fuzzy he was not.
Of the Sox of his era, players of lesser talent such as Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura and Jack McDowell were more loved by fans than Thomas despite his enagaging smile.
It took me a while to figure out why Frank was the way he was.
After all, this was a guy who had everything.
His skills made him the most feared hitter of his era. Along with his production, came the riches. Frank was the first big-money player in White Sox history.
I saw a lot of Frank.
I was on hand for his big league debut at Milwaukee County Stadium in August of 1990 and, without stretching the bounds of credibility too much, I can safely say I witnessed most of the highs and lows either in person or on TV.
As those who know me can attest, I had a love-hate relationship with Thomas.
There were times when I was absolutely at a loss as to why this guy couldn’t smile through and revel in his greatness.
It was quite a contrast to what was going on with fan-friendly and happy-go-lucky Sammy Sosa on the other side of Chicago.
I began to understand Frank on St. Patrick’s Day 2005 when he appeared, via satellite, at the Congressional steroid hearings.
It was at that hearing that baseball’s drug problem was fully exposed and Thomas courageously declared he was and always had been clean (“I have been a major-league ballplayer for 15 years. Throughout my career, I have not used steroids. Ever,” he said.).
With known or suspected roiders stealing homers, headlines and honors, Frank had to see himself as an island of legitimacy in a sea of cheaters.
Put yourself in his place.
If you were abiding by the rules and doing everything right but you saw others you knew were cheating passing you up, it would eat away at you, too.
In the wake of the “Steroid Era,” history is revering Thomas’ gaudy numbers while mocking the stats of his notorious contemporaries.
Thankfully, time, accomplishments, the Hall of Fame, peace of mind and universal respect has dulled the chip on Frank’s shoulder.
This was literally on display in Cooperstown in 2014 when Frank delivered a heartfelt and rollicking speech upon his induction into the Hall of Fame.