White Sox great Frank Thomas is satisfied to be clear of the skepticism some of his competitors face as he prepares for his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Thomas, a two-time MVP who hit 521 career homers, has never faced allegations he used performance-enhancing drugs in a 19-year playing career. When he considers the era he played in, and the scrutiny that now faces Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, Thomas has no doubt he handled it properly and has no sympathy for those who didnt.
Watching all the nonsense unfold and not really knowing what was going on, it makes me feel much more proud of my career, Thomas said. I competed in that era and I played at a high level in that era. There were a lot of great players, but as it unfolds, a lot of it was not the real deal. I know 100 percent mine was the real deal. I wouldnt say I feel bad for them. I respected them on the field, but they chose this. They made their own decisions off the field and they have to live with it.
A baseball player born in a football players body, Thomas never faced suspicion of PED use because he was big from the moment he hit the field. Thomas not only used his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame to gain an edge but he also worked tirelessly, said former teammate Jermaine Dye.
Dye believes Thomas is worthy of first-ballot entry into Cooperstown.
No doubt in my mind, Dye said. He never cheated the game. He always used to tell me Lets get in the batting cage. Lets go work. Get better every day. No matter if you went 4-for-4 with two homers the night before or had a bad game, he was always about getting his work in, staying in the gym and because of that he got to where he is now.
Thomas resume is quite impressive. Not only did he win two MVPs, Thomas was a five-time All-Star in a league loaded with talented first baseman. He also hit a franchise-record 448 home runs in 16 seasons on the South Side and though he was limited by injury, Thomas also helped produce the teams first World Series title when the White Sox swept the Houston Astros in 2005. After noting how five years has flown by, Thomas said he believes he, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all first-timers on the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot, have resumes that should immediately gain entrance into baseballs shrine. He agrees hes not sure it will happen after Craig Biggio didnt gain entry on his first try -- he was one guy we were all shocked -- but would disappointed nonetheless.
I spent my whole career working my butt off and hopefully I get what I deserve, Thomas said. Of course I would be disappointed. Im not going to lie to you. Of course I will. Like I said, I think my resume speaks for itself. Losing a third MVP to a guy who admitted he was PED, I think that would have put me at another level that only a couple of guys have enjoyed ever in this game. The 12-year-run I had was incredible, very historical. So, I think Ive done enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
As for those under suspicion, Thomas isnt sure what he would do. Hes just happy he didnt choose to go the same route.
Its really not up to me, Thomas said. These guys did put up some incredible numbers, but they are fake. Any time you look at the PED situation and Lance Armstrong, you look at stuff like that and its serious out there. I just thank God. Im blessed I did it the right way and have a good family base that made me outwork everyone else because thats the only way I made it to the big leagues.