Chicago White Sox legend, former Birmingham Baron and Auburn University Alum Frank Thomas has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The 2014 class will also include Tony La Russa, who played for the Birmingham A's in 1965 and 1967, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.
Thomas, a first round selection by the White Sox in 1989, hit .323 (114-for-474) with 18 home run, 85 runs scored and 71 RBI in 109 games with the Barons in 1990 en route to being named Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.
He made his Major League debut later that year and in 1991 started a string of three consecutive seasons in which he hit at least .300 with 20 homers and more than 100 RBI, runs, and walks, joining a quartet of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players in history to do so. He claimed back-to-back American League MVP awards in 1993-94 and finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting each year from 1991-97.
Over a 19 year Major League career, Thomas hit .301 with 1494 runs scored, 1704 RBI and finished with 521 home runs, becoming just the 21st player in Major League Baseball history to accomplish the feat. In 2010, the White Sox honored 'The Big Hurt' by retiring his number 35 and later that year he was also inducted into the Barons Hall of Fame.
Thomas earned election to the National Hall of Fame during his inaugural season on the ballot while earning 83.7% of the vote.
"This has been a stressful 48 hours. I am so excited that I'm in the Hall of Fame," said Thomas. "This is something that I will have to sit back in the next three or four days and figure it out because you can only dream so big, as this is as big as it gets for me. I'm a Georgia kid. The whole state of Georgia is going to be there and I am just so blessed that I'll be able to be there with these guys."
Thomas, 45, becomes the sixth former Baron to earn induction into the Hall of Fame and first since Reggie Jackson in 1993. Thomas joins Harold "Pie" Traynor, Burleigh Grimes, Rube Marquard and Rollie Fingers in that elite group. Former Birmingham Black Barons players Leroy 'Satchel' Paige, Willie Mays, George 'Mule' Suttles, Bill Foster and Willie Wells are also enshrined in Cooperstown.
"The Barons organization would like to congratulate Frank Thomas on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame," said General Manager Jonathan Nelson. "'The Big Hurt' has deep ties to the state of Alabama and is one of the most prolific offensive players in team history. To be inducted as a first ballot Hall of Famer is a well deserved honor."