Saturday, February 13, 2010

Glavine And Thomas Call It A Career

Good morning Fackers. While we wait for Johnny Damon and Chien-Ming Wang to officially become former Yankees, two of my favorite non-Yankees of the past twenty years officially became former Major Leaguers over the past two days.

Despite not having played at the Major League level since 2008, neither Frank Thomas nor Tom Glavine had officially announced their retirement. That changed Thursday, as Glavine took an advisory job with the Braves, patching up whatever differences he had with the organization after they callously cut him during his rehab last year.

Later on Thursday, word broke that Frank Thomas, who last played with the A's in 2008, was calling it a career. The Big Hurt confirmed that at a Chicago press conference Friday morning, where the White Sox announced they would retire his number 35, a nice step following his acrimonious departure from the organization after the 2005 season and subsequent pissing match with GM Ken Williams.

Both Glavine and Thomas were excellent all-around athletes. Glavine's fondness for golf has been well documented and for a pitcher, he had some pretty good years with the bat, earning four Silver Slugger awards. He was also a very good hockey player, selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 NHL Draft, ahead of eventual Hall of Famers Luc Robtaille and Brett Hull.

Thomas, like Bo Jackson before him, was a two sport athlete at Auburn, doubling as a tight end on the Tigers football team before an injury derailed his football career. I, like Aaron Gleeman at Hardball Talk, and Joe Pawlikowski at RAB, was a fan of the Big Hurt despite him not playing for our favorite team. Joe went so far as to imagine what it would have been like had Thomas come up with the Yankees instead. Unfortunately, the closest we ever got to that was his turn as the unnamed rookie in Mr. Baseball, whose emergence prompted the Yankees to ship aging Jack Elliot off to the Land of the Rising Sun.

Both Glavine and Thomas were active off the field as well. Glavine has long been an important and involved member of the Players Association and was one of their central figures in the '94 strike. Thomas was perhaps the most outspoken player when it came to the issues of performance enhancing drugs in baseball, was one of the few witnesses not to embarrass himself at the 2005 Congressional Hearings, and was the only active player to willing cooperate with the Mitchell Report investigation.

But above all, what both will be remembered for is being one of the premier pitchers and premier hitters of the 1990s. Both should be part of what promises to be an outstanding 2014 Hall of Fame class.

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