July 27, 2014
Frank Thomas remembers many as he goes into the Hall of Fame
By Charles Goldberg
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- His Hall of Fame plaque calls him the "Big Hurt," says he was "an imposing figure at the plate and on the field," says he was "one of the game's most feared hitters."
Frank Thomas, the big man, was overcome with emotion during his Baseball Hall of Fame acceptance speech Sunday, trying to hold back tears, and losing the battle.
Thomas, the former Auburn star, remembered his family and teammates, the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A's and the Toronto Blue Jays, and his college days. The speech was supposed to be no longer than 10 minutes. Thomas, taking time to wipe away tears and remembering so many, went 17 minutes and 37 seconds.
He thanked his major league teammates, his coaches, the front office and more.
But Thomas made sure to mention former Auburn football coach Pat Dye, former Auburn baseball coach Hal Baird and Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs, his long-ago tight ends coach for the Tigers.
"Under your guidance at Auburn University, I became a man," Thomas said. "You guys pushed me to new heights, and instilled a will to win that I never knew that existed.
"Coach Baird, thanks for treating me like a pro before my time. I thank you my friend."
Thomas thanked Dye for moving from football to a full-time baseball player.
"The decision changed my life. I thank you for letting me follow my dreams. The passion to what's right led me to my career path in baseball. I thank you, Coach Dye."
He then added a "War Damn Eagle."
Thomas remembered his late father's spirit. "I took it to heart Pops. Look at us today."
He was overcome by emotion.
"It was rough," Thomas said after the speech. "Some of the closest people in my life are gone."
He figured he'd cry when he mentioned his father, Frank Sr., and he did. He choked up talking about others.
"I just wanted to thank about all the people who touched me. My speech was all about 'thank yous.'" he said.
Thomas thanked the White Sox, the team he played the most.
The 75th Hall of Fame class is one of the deepest, with Thomas and former Atlanta pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux going in with former managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa. It's the most living inductees in a single class since 1971. Fifty Hall of Famers were on hand to welcome the newcomers.
Thomas' speech was easily the most emotional.
All six of these new members have connections to Georgia, either having played for or from managing the Braves; and Thomas, who is from Columbus.
Sunday, was a special day.
"I'm in the Hall of Fame. It gets no better than that...The Mount Rushmore of baseball," Thomas said.
Check back for more from Thomas.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: