- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
- 0 Shares
Thomas, who will be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time later this year, spoke candidly to reporters after taking part in an open-microphone seminar at SoxFest, the White Sox's annual fan convention.
The subject of the Hall of Fame didn't come up in the town-hall-type gathering that included former players like Harold Baines and Greg Luzinski, but it was the main subject afterward.
"Watching all the nonsense unfold and not really knowing what was going on, it makes me much more proud of my career because I competed in that era and I played at a high level in that era," said Thomas, who won two MVPs and finished a close second in the 2000 voting to Jason Giambi. "There were a lot of great players, but as it unfolds, a lot of it was not the real deal. I know 100 percent mine was the real deal."
Amid prolific power numbers during a career when he hit 521 home runs and played 16 of his 19 seasons with the White Sox, Thomas always maintained an anti-drug stance. His sheer size brought him into suspicion, but there was never any evidence to make any type of case against him.
Taking it even further, Thomas was critical of guys like Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa who were also putting up impressive power numbers while he played. Thomas was asked if he felt bad for either Bonds or Sosa and the criticism they are getting now.
"I wouldn't say I feel bad for them," Thomas said. "I respected them on the field, but they chose this. They made their own decisions off the field and they have to live with it."
As his career was coming to a close, debate centered around whether or not Thomas' numbers were a no-brainer when it came to Hall induction. Not everybody was convinced, even as Thomas amassed a .301 batting average, a .974 OPS, 495 doubles and 1,704 RBIs to go along with those 521 home runs. Now that the steroid era has been exposed, Thomas believes it will make his Hall of Fame case even stronger.
"These guys did put up some incredible numbers, but they're fake," Thomas said. "Any time you look at the PED situation, you look at Lance Armstrong, you look at stuff like that and it's serious out there. Thank God I'm blessed and I did it the right way and I had a good family base that made me outwork everybody else because that was the only way I made it to the big leagues. I was never that blue-chip prospect. I had to do a lot of extra work to get to the big leagues."
"Of course I would be disappointed; I'm not going to lie to you," Thomas said, when asked about his chances of making it into Cooperstown on the first ballot. "I think my resume speaks for itself. Losing a third MVP to a guy (Giambi) who admitted he was PED, I think that would have put me at another level that only a couple of guys have enjoyed ever in this game. The 12-year-run I had was incredible, very historical. So, I think I've done enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer."
Thomas said he was surprised the Baseball Writers Association of America did not induct anybody to the Hall of Fame this year, but thinks a guy like Craig Biggio has the credentials for induction.
"(Biggio) was the one guy we were all shocked about, you know 68 percent (of the vote), 3,000 hits," Thomas said. "Who knows? We could get four next year. At this point I'm worried about myself and when you go to a situation like that, you wish you could get a big class in because that's better acceptance day when everyone is there. Hopefully it's a big class and it's a bunch of guys who deserve it."
4hAdam Lewis, Special to ESPN.com