Frank Thomas' contributions in 2005, his final year playing for the White Sox, didn't amount to much, and I remember thinking at the time that it was kind of sad that the Sox were pushing toward the World Series with the Big Hurt, their two-time MVP winner on the bench. In those days, some fans felt the Big Hurt was a Big Pain to the team, a feeling that manager Ozzie Guillen had not done much to mitigate, and it was pretty obvious his career with the Sox was over.
When the Sox won the World Series though, one of the sweetest moments was seeing Thomas celebrating along with everyone else, knowing he had endured many years playing in a half-full stadium for almost-there-but-not-quite teams.
I've never completely gotten used to the name U.S. Cellular Field, and some days even now I like to call it "New Comiskey Park," considering everything Thomas did there for 16 seasons with the White Sox, maybe we should call it "Frank's Place."
Thomas retired from baseball today, ending a glorious, presumably steroids-free 18-year career. The Sox responded to his announcement in fine fashion by announcing they are retiring his number 35 and declaring Aug. 29 this season as Frank Thomas Day. Fans will cheer loudly that day, as they have in the years since 2005, when Thomas has returned to The Cell in a different team's uniform.
I will leave you to linger over his career stats at Baseball-Reference.com. I had forgotten that the Big Hurt actually finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2000 (to steroids cheat Jason Giambi), finished third in the MVP race twice, and finished fourth in 2006, the season after he was supposedly too washed up to play for the Sox.