Signed in blue ballpoint pen on the sweet spot
Inscription: Big Hurt
Frank Edward Thomas, Jr. (born May 27, 1968), nicknamed "The Big Hurt," is an American former first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for three American League (AL) teams from 1990 to 2008, all but the last three years with the Chicago White Sox. One of the most fearsome and devastating hitters of his era, he is the only player in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991–1997) with a .300 batting average and at least 100 runs batted in (RBI), 100 runs scored, 100 walks and 20 home runs; over that period, he batted .330 and averaged 36 home runs and 118 RBI per year. A perennial MVP candidate through the 1990s, he was named the AL's Most Valuable Player by unanimous vote in 1993 after becoming the first White Sox player to hit 40 home runs, leading the team to a division title; he repeated as MVP in the strike-shortened 1994 season after batting .353 and leading the league in slugging average and runs. After two subpar seasons, he lost the MVP in a close vote in 2000 after posting career highs of 43 home runs and 143 RBI, also earning AL Comeback Player of the Year honors, as Chicago finished with the AL's best record.
A five-time All-Star, he won the AL batting title with a .347 mark in 1997, and enjoyed eleven seasons with 100 RBI and nine seasons each with a .300 average and 100 runs. In his 30s, a variety of foot injuries and other minor ailments increasingly reduced his playing time and productivity, typically limiting him to a designated hitter role. In 2005, his final season in Chicago, he helped the White Sox to their first World Series title in 88 years. At the end of his career, he was tied for eighth in AL history in home runs (521), and was ninth in RBI (1,704) and sixth in walks (1,667); among players with at least 7,000 at bats in the AL, he ranked eighth in slugging average (.555) and ninth in on-base percentage (.419). With a .301 lifetime batting average, he became the seventh player in history to retire with a .300 average and 500 home runs. He holds White Sox franchise records for career home runs (448), RBI (1,465), runs (1,327), doubles (447), extra base hits, walks (1,466), slugging average (.568) and on-base percentage (.427); his team record of 3,949 career total bases was broken by Paul Konerko in 2014.
Thomas was one of the major stars who never fell under suspicion during the controversies over performance-enhancing drugs in the late 1990s, and was an advocate for drug testing as early as 1995; he was the only active player who agreed to be interviewed for the Mitchell Report in 2007. The White Sox retired his uniform number 35 in 2010, and unveiled a statue of him at U.S. Cellular Field in 2011. He is now a commentator for Comcast SportsNet White Sox broadcasts. Thomas was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 in his first year of eligibility, becoming the first White Sox star to achieve that distinction.