February 15th, 2014
In honor of his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, the Opening Day Countdown Down Under blog is recognizing Frank Thomas as we reach 35 days until Major League Baseball’s Opening Series March 22 at Sydney. There are three things in particular we wanted to share about the Big Hurt on the first day of a season:
1. Amazingly, he played in 14 consecutive Opening Day games from 1991-2004 and every one of them was on the road. Major League Baseball typically scheduled the White Sox in a more favorable climate for early spring, meaning White Sox fans always had to follow Thomas in an opener via broadcast unless they traveled with the club. He did not play in the 2005 opener when the club finally opened at home en route to a title.
2. Thomas hit safely in each Opening Day appearance during that White Sox run except 1993, when he was 0 for 3 but walked twice and scored once in a 10-5 win at Minnesota. He was 19 for 46 (.413) with two homers, 13 runs and seven RBIs on Opening Day with the White Sox.
3. Now for the real reason we chose Thomas over Phil Niekro or Justin Verlander for today’s post. He homered off Randy Johnson on Opening Day — not once, but twice. Ten years apart with two different teams. The first one was on the first pitch Thomas saw in 1996 at Seattle. The second was a decade later in his first at-bat for Oakland, with Big Unit pitching for the Yankees. Thanks to the MLB.com video crew for unearthing this footage, so you can see them for yourself:
Who should follow Thomas at 34 Days in our countdown? Keep coming back as we add a new Opening Day moment each midnight ET on the way to Sydney and plan for your season at the ballpark. MLB Schedule | Tickets