Yesssss! Frank Thomas – Hall of Fame Class of 2014

He did it! Frank Thomas, arguably the greatest player to wear a Chicago White Sox uniform, became a first-ballot Hall of Famer today, joining Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as the the incoming Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

CHICAGO - 1990:  Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait prior to an MLB game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois.  Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 1990: Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait prior to an MLB game during his rookie season at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

This announcement was particularity exciting for me, since I had covered Frank from his Major League debut at County Stadium in August of 1990 to his retirement press conference and statue unveiling just a few years ago.

CHICAGO - JULY 31:  Retired player Frank Thomas #35 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after a statue in his honor is unveiled prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Frank Thomas (Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – JULY 31: Retired player Frank Thomas #35 of the Chicago White Sox reacts after a statue in his honor is unveiled prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, July 31, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

I will never forget watching Frank bat for the first time down in Sarasota, Florida during spring training 1989.  What caught my eye was his eye.

CHICAGO - 2003:  Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox bats during an MLB game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005.  (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 2003: Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox bats during an MLB game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

The man was big, had power, AND had an incredible eye for the plate!  He could and would take a walk.  Very impressive.  He reminded me of a Wade Boggs with power.

CHICAGO - 2004:  Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox bats during an MLB game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 2004: Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox bats during an MLB game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

I remember returning to Chicago from that spring training trip telling all who would listen that there was someone special developing in our system.  Someone to watch, a game changer.  Potentially Hall of Fame caliber…

 

 

As history now shows, Frank didn’t prove me wrong!

CHICAGO - JULY 27:  Frank Thomas #35 of Chicago White Sox poses for a photo after hitting his 400th career home run against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 5th inning on July 25, 2003 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – JULY 27: Frank Thomas #35 of Chicago White Sox poses for a photo after hitting his 400th career home run against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 5th inning on July 25, 2003 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Frank will be entering the Hall of Fame wearing a Chicago White Sox uniform, which is very exciting news for ALL Sox fans.  The last player to enter Cooperstown wearing a White Sox jersey was Nelson Fox back in 1997.

I’m looking forward to making my first trip to Cooperstown (believe it or not, I have never been… yet) this July to conclude my photographic journey covering The Big Hurt when Frank is formally inducted.  It’s about time we BOTH got there, and it couldn’t be for a better reason.

CHICAGO - 1998:  Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox looks on during an MLB game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois.  Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – 1998: Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox looks on during an MLB game at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas played for the White Sox from 1990-2005. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Congrats, Big Man!!  I’m proud of you and what you have accomplished, particularly in becoming only the ninth inductee to go into the Hall while wearing a Chicago White Sox uniform.

CHICAGO - JANUARY 08:  Frank Thomas #35 of the Chicago White Sox addresses the media after being voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame January 8, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Ron Vesely/) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – JANUARY 08: Frank Thomas #35 of the Chicago White Sox addresses the media after being voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame January 8, 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Might I also add a hearty congratulations to you too, Mr. Maddux and Mr. Glavine!

CHICAGO - CIRCA 1988:  Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs pitches during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Maddux played for the Cubs from 1986-1992. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – CIRCA 1988: Greg Maddux of the Chicago Cubs pitches during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Maddux played for the Cubs from 1986-1992. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

I also had the privilege of watching Maddux develop,  rightfully earning the “Mad Dog” moniker given to him as the ace of one of the most dominant pitching staffs ever, that of the Atlanta Braves during their 1990’s-2000’s NL East divisional reign.

CHICAGO, IL-UNDATED:  Greg Maddux is pictured with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1980's.  (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO, IL-UNDATED: Greg Maddux is pictured with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1980’s. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Joining him on that Braves staff and entering the Hall with Maddux is Tom Glavine.  Each pitcher, with 300 plus wins under their collective belts, might have been the Braves 90’s version of “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain”…  Funny… Both dynamic duos played for the Braves!

CHICAGO - UNDATED:  Tom Glavine #47 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Chicago Cubs during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.  Glavine played for the Braves from 1987-2002 and again in 2008.  (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

CHICAGO – UNDATED: Tom Glavine #47 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Chicago Cubs during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Glavine played for the Braves from 1987-2002 and again in 2008. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

My favorite memory of Tom was while photographing him for his Score baseball card “Dream Team” portrait on the very day he learned he won his first Cy Young award.  Glavine, drafted by the NHL’s LA Kings before choosing baseball as his profession, dressed up in his full Braves home whites while shooting slap shots past my head at a rented ice rink in the Atlanta area…

ATLANTA, GA AREA, 1991: MLB star Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves shoots a hockey puck during a photo shoot for Score Baseball Cards in 1991. (Photo by Ron Vesely) (Ron Vesely)

ATLANTA, GA AREA, 1991: MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves shoots a hockey puck during a photo shoot for Score Baseball Cards in 1991. (Photo by Ron Vesely)

Congratulations to the entire incoming Hall of Fame Class of 2014!

I look forward to seeing you all in Cooperstown July 27th!

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