Hall of Famer Frank Thomas to join NBC Sports Chicago's White Sox Coverage Team

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USA TODAY

Hall of Famer Frank Thomas to join NBC Sports Chicago's White Sox Coverage Team

Chicago, IL (March 25, 2019) – NBC Sports Chicago - THE Home of the #AuthenticFan - has announced Chicago White Sox legend/1st Ballot Baseball Hall of Famer FRANK THOMAS (@TheBigHurt_35) will be joining the network as a game day studio analyst on “White Sox Pregame Live presented by Aurelio’s Pizza” & “Subaru White Sox Postgame Live” beginning this MLB season.  In addition, “The Big Hurt” will also make occasional appearances on the network’s popular weeknight 7:00 PM CT game start lead-in program, “Baseball Night in Chicago.” The announcement was made by Kevin Cross, Senior Vice President/General Manager, NBC Sports Chicago.

Thomas’ first appearance as the network’s new White Sox studio analyst will take place on Opening Day (Thursday, March 28), as the White Sox travel to face the American League Central Division rival Kansas City Royals (NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Opening Day coverage begins with a special, hour-long expanded edition of “White Sox Pregame Live” at 2:00 PM CT; live stream to authenticated subscribers available at NBCSportsChicago.com and via the “MyTeams by NBC Sports” app).  Last week, NBC Sports Chicago announced 2005 White Sox World Series championship “Manager of the Year” Ozzie Guillen will also be joining the network’s “White Sox Pre/Postgame Live” team as an analyst beginning this season.

“I’m happy to be joining the team at NBC Sports Chicago and to be back covering the White Sox, a franchise with a bright future featuring some of the best young talent in the game today,” said Thomas.  

“Frank Thomas is, without question, one of the greatest players in Chicago baseball history and we couldn’t be more thrilled he will be lending his insightful analysis as part of our expert White Sox coverage team all season long,” added Cross.  “The addition of Frank once again showcases our year-round commitment in delivering the most comprehensive coverage of the White Sox to our vast and dedicated multi-platform audience.”

One of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, Thomas was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility (2014).  His #35 jersey was also retired by the White Sox 2010.  Thomas finished his stellar MLB career with a .301 batting average, 521 home runs, 1,704 RBI, 495 doubles, 1,494 runs scored and 1,667 walks in 2,322 games.  He was also a member of the White Sox 2005 World Championship team, his final season with the club.  Thomas won back-to-back American League MVP honors in 1993 & 1994 and finished second in MVP balloting in 2000.  A five-time AL All-Star, Thomas is the White Sox franchise leader in numerous offensive categories, including home runs (448), doubles (447), RBI (1,465), runs scored (1,327), extra-base hits (906), walks (1,466), slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage (.427).  Thomas is also just one of four players in baseball history (joining Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams) to have a .300 average with 500 home runs, 1,500 RBI, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks in a career.

Emotional Harold Baines remembers his dad on first day as Hall of Famer: 'I played the game for him'

Emotional Harold Baines remembers his dad on first day as Hall of Famer: 'I played the game for him'

LAS VEGAS — Harold Baines was famous during his playing days for being a man of few words and a man of few outward displays of emotion.

But that changed, even if only briefly, on the day he was introduced as one of the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

When asked who was most happy and most proud of this accomplishment, Baines mentioned his family, finally getting to his father, who passed away three years ago. Baines let the tears flow as he called his dad "my hero."

Baines talked with our Chuck Garfien after his press conference and elaborated on his feelings, talking about his relationship with his dad and his dad's relationship with the game.

"It's hard (to talk about him)," Baines said. "It's very hard. I think I played the game for him, because he couldn't. He was born too early. So I always felt I played the game for him. I love the game, but it didn't mean that much to me like it did to him.

"I was fortunate enough to get drafted, and I just said, 'I'm playing for him.'"

Coming from Baines, the show of emotion was a rarity. But he revealed that that's something he got from his dad, too, along with his love of the game.

"He didn't show emotion," he said. "I know he was proud."

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Jerry Reinsdorf ecstatic over Harold Baines' Hall of Fame election: 'He really is a Chicago White Sox'

Jerry Reinsdorf ecstatic over Harold Baines' Hall of Fame election: 'He really is a Chicago White Sox'

LAS VEGAS — Harold Baines is a Hall of Famer, or at least he will be very soon, elected to the Hall on Sunday night just before the start of baseball's Winter Meetings.

With the controversy over whether he was or wasn't worthy of the honor finally put to bed, only one burning question remained: Who was most excited about it?

Baines, famously a man of few words and few outward displays of emotion, might not be the correct answer, even though he's the one who will soon be enshrined in Cooperstown.

"I think the people with the White Sox might be happier than Harold because we all love Harold so much," team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Sunday night in Nevada. "We’re just so happy for him. But he deserved it. He got in because he deserved to get in — not because he’s a great guy. He is a great guy."

But as happy as the chairman was, Baines was just as surprised.

"I'm very humbled and honored for this good news today," he said on a conference call. "I'm very grateful to the veteran's committee for thinking I'm worthy of this Hall-of-Fame honor today. I'm very shocked today.

"Very surprising. I was only on there one year, so I wasn't expecting this day to come. But that doesn't reflect on the person I am. I had a great career, I'm very proud of it. I think any player would tell you he doesn't play the game of baseball to get into the Hall of Fame."

Baines' numbers certainly back up his deserving status. In the 20 years that covered the 1980s and 1990s, he ranked fifth in baseball with 2,783 hits, second with 1,583 RBIs, third with 4,474 total bases, fifth with 474 doubles, fourth with 896 extra-base hits and ninth with 373 home runs. He sits in the top 50 among current Hall of Famers in RBIs, hits, home runs, extra-base hits and doubles. Since 1969, Baines is 10th among all players with at least 100 at-bats with a .324 postseason batting average.

"He just deserved it," Reinsdorf said. "It was just a shame he didn’t get in sooner than this. Harold is a great player. You look at the numbers he put up in the '80s and the '90s and played in the Majors for 22 years. I don’t think he ever had a bad year. Of course, there’s no finer person than Harold Baines.

"When the game was on the line in the eighth or ninth inning, and you can pick somebody to you wanted up, it was Harold Baines."

Reinsdorf was a member of this year's 16-person committee, along with former White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who managed Baines for many years during the 1980s.

Asked how he reacted when Baines was officially elected, Reinsdorf said, "I just went like that," showing reporters a fist pump, "and I looked up at Tony La Russa and I thought he was going to cry."

Asked how Baines reacted when he heard the news, Reinsdorf relayed, sarcastically: "Oh, he was screaming and hollering."

Who knows what emotion we'll see from Baines next summer in Cooperstown, but Reinsdorf is already making some joking predictions.

"That was one of the arguments we made to the voters: If you do vote him in, it will be a very short speech," Reinsdorf said. "But Steve Hirdt said, 'You don’t know, maybe Harold will get up there and say, “I’ve kept it all in for all these years and now I’m going to let it out and talk for 45 minutes.”' But I don’t think so.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if he said, 'Thank you very much' and sat down."

All kidding aside, the White Sox are, to borrow Reinsdorf's word, ecstatic over Baines' election. He spent parts of 14 seasons as a player on the South Side and many more as a coach in his post-playing career. He's had an influence of some kind or another on just about everyone who played for the team for the last nearly four decades.

"Harold just commands so much respect from everybody," Reinsdorf said. "He’s quiet, but they know who Harold Baines was. Look, Harold is the one guy who can control Ozzie (Guillen).

"Everybody has so much respect for the guy. Nobody said anything bad about him.

"Harold has been with the White Sox, with time off for a few other teams, since I got there. And he’s really a constant. He really is a Chicago White Sox. You look at the era of the '80s and '90s, it was Harold Baines."

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