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Baseball Wed Apr 23 2008

Come Back Frank, All Is Forgiven

When Frank Thomas was unceremoniously dumped by the Toronto Blue Jays this past Saturday, it was a roster move that created ripples all the way back to Chicago. Despite the fact that it's been almost three seasons since he last wore the silver and black of the White Sox, Thomas carved out a niche in the hearts of Sox fans. Yes, he could be petulant at times, seemingly in an everlasting cycle of signing a contract and then asking the team to tear it up and offer another the following season. But hitting 448 home runs for the White Sox gave "The Big Hurt" a permanent place in White Sox lore.

But don't expect him back at U.S. Cellular in anything other than a fan capacity anytime soon. His war of words with General Manager Kenny Williams assures he won't be offered a deal other than as a beer vendor. Supposedly the Oakland A's, the team he joined after leaving the White Sox, might be interested, but they've got a surplus of young guys who need playing time.

So whether goest thou, Frank Thomas? How about Joliet?

Seems the Joliet Jackhammers of the independent Northern League have offered Thomas a contract for their upcoming season which begins Friday, May 23, 7:05 p.m. against the Winnipeg Goldeneyes at Silver Cross Field.

"We need to get Frank back to Chicago where the fans love him," said JackHammers Executive VP and General Manager Kelly Sufka. "Frank will get the regular playing time he needs with no time spent on the bench. We'll work to get him as many at-bats as possible."

Yeah, sure it may be a little tongue-in-cheek and the Jackhammers probably aren't expecting Thomas to show up at their door tomorrow, but just to make it offical the team faxed a contract to Thomas' agent, who hasn't responded yet (ahem). Financial terms of the contract to Thomas (who received more than $5 million from the Jays just to walk away) were not disclosed, but reports say it could go as high as $3,500 a month.

Perhaps the incentives will bring Thomas to Joliet. In addition to his Jackhammer salary, Thomas would receive a free apartment, his own room on overnight trips to games in Winnipeg, Fargo, North Dakota and Kansas City, Kansas; and his own seat on the Peoria Charter coach bus on road trips to Schaumburg and Gary, Ind.

So swallow that pride, Frank, and consider this generous offer. Who knows, they might throw in a year-long pass to Splash Station Waterpark.

Update: Forget the dreams of seeing Thomas squeezing into a Jackhammer uniform. He signed with the Oakland A's - again.

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