Friday, March 21, 2014
Thomas: HOF speech won't chastise users
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Outspoken about steroids during am extremely productive career, former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas said Friday that he won't address the topic during his Hall of Fame speech this summer.
Thomas, who was named a first-ballot Hall of Famer in January by the Baseball Writers Association of America, was the man of honor during ESPN Chicago 1000's "Lunch with a Legend" on Friday. It didn't take long for the topic of his speech and steroids to be addressed.
Frank Thomas says he will focus on celebrating his career rather than chastising PED users during his Hall of Fame speech.
"I'm going to leave that alone," Thomas said.
Proud that he played the game clean of performance-enhancing substances, Thomas had plenty to say about the subject after learning he will be one of the Hall of Fame's newest members. On Friday, though, he seemed to have a level of support for two players widely believed to have taken shortcuts.
"There are two guys that (it's) very sad they aren't going to the Hall of Fame and that's Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens," Thomas said. "When I came into the game, those two guys were the standards as a hitter and a pitcher. You might not know what will happen 50 years from now, 30 years from now, but it doesn't look good right now (for induction) and I know how great those two guys were.
"You can look at their history. We kind of know when it started for those two guys. For me they were already Hall of Famers. I have much respect for those guys, but they made some bad choices at the end of their careers and they're going to have to live with it."
There is even no grudge against Jason Giambi, who might not have been on a level playing field when he edged Thomas for the 2000 MVP award. Long believed to have used performance-enhancing substances, Giambi admitted to USA Today in 2007, "I was wrong for doing that stuff."
"Nothing bad against Jason," Thomas said. "I live out near him in Las Vegas and we've had a lot of talks. He's a quality guy."
They might have talks, but Giambi prefers to keep it light when it comes to the 2000 MVP race.
"He said 'I still beat you,'" Thomas said with a chuckle. "That's the just the way it is. He's still a good dude. He's something else. He's a funny character. He will still look at me right now and say 'I still beat you.' No hard feelings with that but I would have loved to win that MVP."
Thomas' support of guys like Bonds and Clemens for Hall of Fame recognition isn't exactly in sync with those already recognized at Cooperstown.
"Talking to the Hall of Famers, they don't want any guys who had anything to do with PEDs in the Hall of Fame," Thomas said. "It took a lot to get in to the Hall of Fame so they don't want any of these guys to ever get in.
"For me, I was one of the biggest, strongest guys the game had ever seen besides Bo Jackson. When I came through, the first seven or eight years nothing could compare. There was nothing that big and strong and then two years later, everybody was passing me up. It happened overnight."
Part of Thomas' reluctance to address steroids could come from the fact that his Hall of Fame speech will be limited to 10 minutes. With six inductees set to speak, the program is going to be lengthy. Thomas would rather make it a celebration instead of chastising those who went a different route.
"I have a little outline going right now and a couple of people are helping me out," Thomas said. "It's tough to get everybody you want to get into that speech in 10 minutes. I'm sure I will probably leave a couple of people off and I will be upset about it. Everybody will be in my prayers and my heart because I had so many friends that helped me to get to this level. It's so overwhelming, it really is."