Batter Up with The Big Hurt
Here’s a fun fact about Frank Thomas:
He had several hours after he arrived in Louisville before he needed to be at our museum.
What did he do? He squeezed in a workout at the hotel gym.
That is what Living Legends are made of!
We were thrilled to honor The Big Hurt with our 11th Annual Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Living Legend Award on November 10.
As he signed the sleek silver and black Living Legend bats, I asked our fabulous photographer, Andrea Davis, to get an “over-the-shoulder” shot of him inking his autograph onto the barrel. I might as well have asked her to get an over-the-shoulder shot of Mount Rushmore.
It’s fitting that 6’5” Thomas is a hero of Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders.
Our next stop was the factory, where our talented craftsman, Mike Dennison, demonstrated how bats used to be made by hand, creating a replica model of the Louisville Slugger C243 model Thomas used during his two MVP seasons with the Chicago White Sox. On the right is our Tour Director, and Baseball Trivia Titan, PJ Shelley.
We also showed Thomas today’s steps in producing the best baseball bats in the game. Handling bats straight off the production line brought that famous smile to his face.
During the press conference, we shared a bat from our collection that Thomas used during his rookie season, and he talked about how important Louisville Slugger was for the start of his successful career. As we’ve seen with other Living Legends, it looks like the bat and The Big Hurt both have some home runs left in them.
Several hundred excited fans joined us for this special night, including White Sox Superfan and distinguished storyteller, Barry Bernson, who presented Thomas with his Living Legend ring while sporting his Chisox cap.
Our guests had the chance to ask questions directly to Thomas, which he and the crowd both enjoyed.
As part of the ceremony, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory’s Poet Laureate, Mike Shannon, wrote another memorable tribute to our honoree. His poem below came to life with video, Topps baseball cards, and music:
Bravo, Big Hurt!
From early swings Frank Senior knew and Momma Charlie Mae did too
That their Boxwood ‘hood would never hold the promise and intrigue
Of the talent stamped on long balls you airmailed from the Peach League.
At Columbus High, a man among boys, your booming bat made pay-attention Noise as you led older Blue Devil mates to the highest laurels of the state.
Though clearly an unstoppable force you were shocked and truly shafted when MLB left you undrafted. Slowed but unbowed, you solemnly vowed to change the View from “Too big, too slow, can’t run” to “OMG, what have we done!” Thankfully, Auburn U. was near, and it saved your Hall of Fame career when Coach Dye, the Tigers’ selfless pater noster, kept you on the football roster but Left you free to follow your true destiny: not of making jarring blocks and tackles But raising pitchers’ fears and hackles. Your march like Sherman through the SEC Brought doubting Thomas’s to their senses, and you finally got a shot at knocking Down professional fences. After a sip of coffee in the minors, nothing more, you Landed on the White Sox’s shores and with your faith and hope renewed began Dispelling Comiskey blues. Against all comers you hit a ton, won your first Silver Slugger in ‘91; two years later set a team mark for taters and copped a second MVP Award. You won the HR Derby in ‘95, then went yard off Smiley when the Pitching was live. With Hriniak at your side, rare were slumps and slides, and
Taking that batting crown only added to your renown. After time ran out with Ozzie, Robin, and Ray, you spent your final clout with Oakland and the Jays; but No one had the slightest doubt that you, a real-life Walter Mitty, would remain
A favorite son of the Windy City and a Pale Hose Series winner. For you never wore a frown and you never let us down; you treated everyone the way we
should while always seeking the greater good. Bravo, Big Hurt! Never may your
Statue fall. Best of all, you’re allowed to tweet, “Never once did I have to cheat!”
That sensational final line is a reference to Thomas playing steroid-free his entire career. And what a career he had. His specially designed Living Legend ring featured a few of his lifetime highlights like the 1993 and 1994 MVP years, retired jersey number 35, and 2014 Hall of Fame induction.
Thomas can now add Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory Living Legend to his accolades. He joins a stellar line-up you can see here, including Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr, and Cal Ripken.
Editor’s Note: Only 50 signed Frank Thomas Living Legend collectible bats were produced. Get yours before they’re gone by ordering here!