It’s Frank Thomas’ 50th birthday.
Frank had a Hall of Fame career. He played 19 seasons, mostly for the White Sox. He hit .301/.419/.555 with 521 home runs. He was AL MVP twice and received MVP votes 11 times. His 73.9 career bWAR puts him 52nd all time among position players.
His Jays connection happened late in his career.
The Jays signed Frank Thomas to a two year deal, plus vesting option for a 3rd year before the 2007 season, when he turned 39. Frank had had a really good 2007, hitting .277/.377/.480, with 29 home runs. Then he started 2008 slowly, hitting just .167/.306/.333 in his first 72 at bats. Thomas was a notoriously slow starter for much of his career. As late as June 3rd, 2007, Frank was hitting just .217. After that he went on a roll.
So when he started slow in 2008, most of us figured he’d get it together at some point, but once and future Jays manager John Gibbons decided Frank should sit on the bench. Frank did not react well. Here is how Hugo put it at the time:
Thomas did not shake hands with his teammates after the game and spoke angrily to reporters, indicating his belief that the decision was based on money, not putting the best team on the field.
Frank figured he was being benched so that he wouldn’t reach the number of at bats needed to vest his option for the next season. I’m sure he was right. They replaced Frank, that night, with Joe Inglett, a nice enough player but not someone who you would want at DH.
Hugo put up a poll,and most BBBers didn’t think releasing Frank was a good move. We were wrong, Frank didn’t play in 2009 and his career was over. It saved the Jays $10 million for 2009.
Happy birthday Frank. I hope it is a good one.