COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Frank Thomas version 1.0 couldn't be happier for White Sox slugger Frank Thomas' induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
As the old New York Mets/Pittsburgh Pirates/Cubs player sees it, when the "Big Hurt" is enshrined into Cooperstown, he will be too.
Long before the South Side slugger captured baseball's attention with 521 home runs, the first Thomas was a bit of a slugger himself. In a career that lasted from 1951-66, Thomas hit 286 homers, including an expansion-club record 34 for the 1962 Mets.
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The first Thomas is in Cooperstown this weekend for the fourth time. But it's his first trip signing autographs as a pitchman on Main St. is offering fans a chance to meet "The Original Frank Thomas."
"He's a good kid," said Thomas, 85. "I had a picture taken with him in 1994. I walked into the clubhouse and he said 'You're big.' I said 'Not as big as you.' I said to him, 'I'm getting 20-25 of your bubblegum cards' and he said 'I'm getting a lot of yours too.' I said 'Good, keep my name in the public eye.' "
The Original Thomas had a .266/.320/.454 slash line in 6,915 career plate appearances. He averaged 26 homers and 88 RBIs over his career and his 34 homers was a Mets single-season record until Dave Kingman blasted 37 in 1982.
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Thomas, who was born in Pittsburgh, remembers his namesake as a great power hitter. Now retired and playing a lot of golf -- "life has been very good to me" --
Thomas recalls one ball the younger Thomas hit in the 1994 Home Run Derby at Three Rivers Stadium as being one of the longest he's ever seen.
It's also a source of pride for him that players named Frank Thomas have combined for 807 homers. He couldn't be happier for "Big Frank" and his entrance in baseball's hallowed grounds. "That's amazing isn't it?" Thomas said. "I can always say my name is in the Hall of Fame."