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White Sox Mon Aug 01 2011

White Sox Unveil Frank Thomas Statue

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Photos by Cheryl Norman

There's a new attraction at U.S. Cellular Field, and it's a big one.

Frank Thomas, the best hitter in White Sox history, was honored before Sunday's game with a statue on the left field concourse.

The statue depicts the Big Hurt in his MVP prime: swinging for the fences, left arm extended in his classic, one-handed follow-through as he watches the flight of another home run blast. It is one of seven statues honoring eight Sox legends.

Thomas played 19 major-league seasons, the first 16 in Chicago, and finished with a .301 batting average, 521 home runs, 1,704 RBIs and 1,494 runs scored. He posted a career .419 on-base percentage and .555 slugging percentage, numbers which stood out even in a huge offensive era.

With an adjusted OPS of 156 -- adjusted, that is, for the era, league and ballpark he played in -- Thomas is tied with fellow former Sox MVP Dick Allen for 19th all-time. He won two American League MVP awards and finished in the top 10 seven other times.

Honored by the Sox for the second time in a year, Thomas was composed, eloquent and appreciative in a short speech after Hawk Harrelson's warm introduction.

He spoke briefly about what the statue and his career meant to him, and focused on thanking the White Sox organization and the fans for making his time with the team so memorable. When his wife and four children pulled a drop cloth off the statue, Thomas stood back in amazement.

Prior to the reveal, the White Sox showed a short career retrospective that started with his first hit in August 1990, a triple at AL West rival Milwaukee, and ended with his emotional speech at the 2005 World Series parade, three months after his final game in the black and white.

Thomas was also greeted by a standing ovation from fans at the White Sox dugout, as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Harold Baines.

Next up is 2014, his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. It won't be a long wait for the best right-handed hitter of his era.

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