Interview Date: January 14, 2017
Frank Thomas deserves a spot in baseball history. Not the 1st ballot Hall of Famer, but the original Frank Thomas. “I was the original, but he was better. We hold the record for most home runs hit by two players with the same name. I was told that his father was a fan of mine and named him after me. I have met him several times and I love him. I told him that I used to be The Big Hurt, but after meeting him I know that I was just The Little Hurt.”
Thomas’ career was filled with memorable moments. The most memorable and unfortunate of those moments happened in Philadelphia when he found himself in a fight with Richie Allen. “I personally don’t like to live in the past nor those bad things that happened.” It was a request to avoid the topic, but one that he could not help but interject into the conversation. “People don’t like the truth. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass. Try to harm me? If I have something to say, I will say it to your face.” And he said it to Richie Allen. Allen, then a hot-tempered young star, did not appreciate Thomas’ honesty. By the end of the fight, Thomas had hit Allen with a baseball bat, Allen had earned a reputation as unhinged, and Thomas was on his way to Houston.
“I ended up in Houston because of the unfortunate situation. I would not say I enjoyed my time there, but not because of the city or the players. I was just in a bad place personally. I was an old fogey. When you reach your 30s in baseball, you’re an old man. Expendable. But I loved the guys in Houston. Joe Morgan, Rusty Staub, and my favorite Jimmy Wynn. I once got Wynn with the hidden ball trick. He was so angry with me. But what I remember most is that I hit two home runs and then they traded me! My last at-bat in Philadelphia was also a home run. I guess I just needed to stop hitting them!”
Thomas was done talking about Houston. It was a painful time. But he was not done talking about his accomplishments. He was an original Met, holding the record for the most home runs by a player on an expansion team. He was the fourth man in the first time that four consecutive batters hit home runs, putting his name next to Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. He was once hit by a pitch twice in the same inning. His list of where his name appears in the history books is long. All he wants is to be remembered.
“The Hall of Fame is a popularity contest. My stats are better than a lot of people in there. Why have I not ever been even considered? Because I did not play for a big market team. I was a part of a lot of records and they won’t even put my picture on the walls.”
“I sent a picture of the four of us that hit those home runs to the Hall of Fame. They said they never got it. So I hand-delivered it. They said they would put it up. I sign autographs there every year and they never put it up. It is like they think I don’t matter.”
“The Hall of Fame is bullshit.”
But do not be fooled into thinking he is a bitter man. “I gave my all, 100% of the time. Baseball was my first love and I loved every second I spent playing. I love my fans. It has been over 50 years and I still enjoy getting letters. I have strong opinions, but it has never taken away from how great this game is.”