27 July 2014, Cooperstown, New York, United States
Give me a second. Thank you, Mr. Commissioner, Ms. Jane Forbes Clark.
Today I would like to thank the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the baseball writers for selecting me as a first ballot selection in this 2014 Hall of Fame class. I'm so humbled and honored to be a part of this historic class of first ballot Hall of Famers. To share the stage in front of all the legendary men who made the game better for us all, I'm speechless.
I want to personally thank you all for being great role models and making this great game what it is today. Hard work, dedication and commitment. No short cuts to success, thanks for having me in your Club.
I would like to thank my parents, Charlie Mae Thomas, who’s here today, and the late Frank Thomas, Sr., for giving me the love and support that keep me involved in team sports in a lovely town Columbus, Georgia.
I would also like to thank my parents for working so hard to instill core values to make the best of life. We didn't have much but my parents worked tireless for me and my four siblings. Frank Sr., I know you're watching and smiling from heaven. Without you, I know 100 percent I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown today.
Thanks for pushing me and always preaching to me: You can be someone special if you really work at. I took that to heart, Pops. Look at us today. We're a long way from Columbus, Georgia. Mom, thanks for hanging in there and believing in the same vision. I know it wasn't easy, but I thank you for the motherly love and support.
Raising all of us was tough, but you and Dad made sure we made it. You guys made it look easy for us. I thank you and I love you, Mom.
I would now like to thank my beautiful wife, Megan, and my five wonderful children: Sterling, Sloan, Sydney, Frankie and Ashleigh Kate for making life so unforgettable for me. I know all five of you are different, and all five of you complete me day by day.
That's what makes me feel so blessed. You guys are my everything. There are no words to describe how much I love you guys.
I especially want to say thanks, Megan, for coming into my life 15 years ago. When we met, life was throwing me a curveball, one I could not hit. But meeting you really put pep in my step and made me believe in love again.
I thank you for teaching me the value of family first. You took my three older kids immediately as your own and changed my world forever. I know this wasn't easy but you proved your love for me from day one. I'm so blessed to be married to such a wonderful person. You complete me; I love you baby.
I would like to thank my siblings for all the love and support. My older sister, Gloria, Mary, Sharon and Michael. I can't name all my extended family and friends, I know you’re here, and I love you guys, but thank you for coming.
My older brother, Michael, thanks for being my best friend and for always having my back. Mike World, I can tell you everything and you always have advice for me, some good some and some bad, but thanks for being honest. I love you, Bro.
In life, you have infrastructure. I would like to thank my team who has kept me grounded and in touch with reality from day one. First, the late Robert Fraley. I know you're not here, my friend, but thanks for watching my career and giving me professional guidance you gave me. It's priceless.
Robert, you once said to me, "Life is not fair. You have to work hard and earn your respect." You were so right. I thank you for being honest with me. I know you're somewhere in heaven directing traffic because that's what true leaders do.
I would like to thank Frank Bumstead. I thank you for becoming my father figure in my life after I lost my father. Robert Fraley introduced us, and without you, I have no clue where I would be today. I love you, man. Taryn Anderson, thank you for dealing with me on a daily basis, keeping me straight. I appreciate everything you do, because I know it's not easy. Thank you.
And Lisa Rybicki, I thank you for managing my life for 16 long years. Without you, my career could have fell off a long time ago. I thank you for keeping everyone in check. You did a wonderful job. Thank you, Lisa.
Also like to thank Arn Tellum and Joel Wolf for picking up the pieces later in my career and guiding me to new beginnings in Oakland and Toronto. I thank you guys.
Now, I would like to thank the Chicago White Sox organization for drafting me into professional baseball. Special thanks to Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie Einhorn, Larry Himes, Al Goldis, Howard Pizer and Mike Rizzo for taking a chance on a kid from a small town with many big dreams.
Jerry, thanks for a long and wonderful ride in that Chicago White Sox uniform. You did a lot for me and you still mean a lot to me. Thank you, my friend.
Also I would like to thank all my general managers and managers along the way in Chicago: Ron Schuler, Danny Evans, Jeff Torborg, Gene Lamont, Terry Bevington and Kenny Williams, Jerry Manuel and a special thanks to Ozzie Guillen, 11 years as a teammate, three years as a manager, and I can thank you for getting me my only ring because we had that special bond for many years. I thank you, Ozzie, thank you very much.
A special thanks goes out to Ken Hawk Harrelson. Hawk thanks for penning me the Big Hurt. Your nickname for me really changed my life forever.
Hawk, I’d also like to thank you for being a friend and a source of guidance all those years on the plane, through the ups and downs, through the good and bad times, it was priceless picking your brain. Thank you, Hawk.
I would like to thank the Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays for believing in me as a free agent and signing me into their organizations. Lou Wolf, Billy Beane, Dave Forrest, thanks for taking a chance on me, twice. That 2000 season was magical. Without it, I doubt I would be speaking here today.
JP Richardi, Alex Anthopoulos, I thank you and the wonderful Toronto organization for bringing me to Toronto. Hitting No.500 in that Blue Jay uniform was a dream. Thanks for taking a chance on a 39 year old, I really appreciate that.
In my career, I had so many magical moments in all three uniforms. It was a career filled with great memories and great people in all three great organizations. I will always be thankful for all of you. I would like to thank all the coaches who really made me tick and put in many hours of hard work with me.
You know I couldn't forget you guys. Bobby Howard, I know you're here somewhere, it started with you. You made me grow up in a hurry. Your no nonsense approach to the game was needed at an early age. Winning was the only option. You preached that and you made me work for it. Playing for you set my foundation for life. Love you and I thank you.
I would like to thank Pat Dye, Jay Jacobs, Hal Baird, under your guidance at Auburn University I became a man and you guys pushed me to new heights and instilled toughness and a will to win that I really never knew existed.
Coach Barrett, thanks for treating me like a pro before my time. I thank you, my friend. I know I couldn't make it here today, but I thank you.
Coach Dye, it's the same. I know you couldn't make it either, but I really thank you for letting me play both sports. The decision changed my life. I thank you for letting me follow my dreams. Your passion for what's right led me to my current package in baseball. I thank you Coach Dye and War Damn Eagle.
And this is a tough one. I have a special love for this man, Walt Hriniak, my favorite hitting coach of all time. I thank you for being honest from day one. You taught me to only want to be the best. You would always say to me, "Anyone could be good, Frank. But the special ones want to be great." Our work sessions were very consistent every day. It didn't matter if we were 10 for 10 or 0 for 10. It was the same process every day, no free lesson. Consistency and dedication was what made you tick, and I'm so grateful for your tutelage.
Having you first in the big leagues made it difficult for me when you left. Preparation for games wasn't the same any more, but I can always remember you saying, "Keep your f'ing head down and finish, Frank."
Thanks, Walter. Without you, I know I wouldn't be here in Cooperstown here today. Thanks to my other coaches who put in time with me. Sorry I can't ramble all day. I've been told by the rookie has to hurry you have.
Doug Mansolino, Mike Gellinger, Ron Jackson, Greg Walker, Gary Ward, Tom Pachoriek, Gerald Perry, Ron Washington, Ken Macha, John Gibbons, Mickey Bradley, Wallace Johnson,Dave Laroche, Joe Nossek, Cave Man Art Kushner, Mark Salas, Tommy Thompson, the late Kevin Hickey, Chet Demedio, Steve Odgers, Walt Pasternak, Allen Thomas, Clarence Cockrell and Donovan Santas and a special thanks to my friend and coach, Jim Fannin, I know you're here somewhere, Jim. You told me to live in the zone, on and off the field, and even today, I thank you, Buddy.
A heartfelt thanks to all my trainers. Thanks for all the hard work getting me to the post every day. Herm Schneider, I thank you for all the overtime you put in with me, 16 years of TLC. Hermie, thanks my man, you gave me the best professional care year in and year out. I'm so appreciative of you.
Mark Anderson, Brian Ball, Larry Davis, Steve Soupy Sales, Walt Horn, George Poulis - my main man George Poulis, Dave Abraham, Scott Takoe, Amy George and Tim Soder, I thank all of you for your help along the way. Just like to say special thanks to my clubhouse managers, I know they never get any love. Clubhouse managers, pr managers, traveling secretaries; the late Chicken Willie Thompson, Vinnie Fresso, Gabe Morrell, Steve Vuchinich, Jeff Ross, Scott Refeirt, Jay Steinhouse, Glen Rosenbaum, Mickey Morabtio, Mike Shaw, I thank you all for taking care of me. You're all great at what you do. Thanks for all the love.
I want to have a special thanks to all my doctors, I couldn't include all of you today, but a few of you, I'd like to say, thanks again, James Boscardin, Dr. Price, Lowell Wyle, Sr. Dr. Elliot Schwartz, I know Elliot is here. Thank you for what you did for me in Oakland, you're a friend and buddy.
But I have to say one special thank you to Dr. Richard Ferkel. Yes, Dr. Ferkel is here. You repaired my navicular fracture when everyone said I was done. I was sitting at 452 home runs and you looked at me and said, "I'm going to get you back on the field." You never doubted putting me back there and you helped me finish my career. And getting to Cooperstown, I never thought it would happen. I thank you, you mean so much to me and you mean more to me now as a friend. Thank you, Dr. Ferkel.
Getting here was a reflection of my teammates. You can't win any game without teammates, and I had the best of them. Over 850 of them in my time. Getting here as a series of reflections of their talents. I don't have all day here, I only have ten minutes and I might be over – I’m sorry, I'm an emotional guy because I wear my heart on my sleeve. So I'm going to give my guys a verbal montage, please bear with me.
Please bear with me: One Dog, Rock, Grabek, R.V., Ozzie, Joey, Pudge, Karko, Psycho Lyons, Bo, Ellis, Black Jack, the Deacon, Sugar Ray, Alex, Wilson, Bere, Roberto, Thiggy, James Baldwin, Billy Bob, Buehrle, Hot Rod – thanks for the program Hot Rod. D. Bo., Magglio, Carlos, Rowand, Jermaine Dye. He’s here today along with Aaron Rowand. Ivan, Phil, Paulie, Crede, Uribe, Charles Johnson, Sandy, T. Phillips, Harold, Melido, Howry, Foulke, Mike Jackson, Flash, Kenny, Sandy, A.J., Robbie, McElroy, Marullo, Spanky, Julio, Willie Chill, Singleton, Mouton, Davey, El Duque, Fordyce, Leifer, G. Bell, C. Everett, Danny Pasqua, D.J., McCaskill, Paul, Huff, Valentin, Abbott, Devereaux, Kammy Kam (mentioned him twice by accident), John Kruk, Sirotka, Magrane, Freeman, Krueter, Norton, Tartabull, D. Lew, Scott Eyre, Navarro, Bradford, Castillo, Mark Johnson, Garland, Lowe, Eldred, Graffanino, Marte, Bartolo, Cotts, Glover, Loaiza, Contreras, Freddy, Politte. I know it’s long. Sorry. Jenks, Lee, B.A., Podsednik, Blanton, Kiko, Duke, Gaudin, Harden, Haren, Kotsay, The late Joe Kennedy. He left us too soon and was a special friend of mine. Saarloos, Huston, Zito, Kendall, Melhuse, Swisher, Chavy, Crosby, Ellis, D.J., Scutaro, Milton, Kielty, J. Payton, Doc Halladay, Accardo, A.J., Downsie, Frasor, Rios, Casey, League, McGowan, Marcum, B.J., Towers, A. Hill, Vernon, Johnny Mac, Orlando, Reed, Raja and Big Red.
Yeah, it was real. You guys are my family away from home. I miss all of you, I’m glad to have known all of you, I’m sorry I couldn’t name the rest of you guys. I’d probably be getting hit on the head right now from the guys in the back, but I thank you man.
In closing I would like to say thank you to the city of Chicago. You guys make the Big Hurt who he was in the greatest sport town in America. I know I'm biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment playing for you all. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Oakland and Toronto, I thank you for great fan bases, also making me feel at home. It was short lived but I appreciate the love from both of you great cities.
To all you kids out there, just remember one thing from today. There are no shortcuts to success. Hard work, dedication, commitment, stay true to who you are. God bless you all, and I thank you.