Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 10:00
Comcast SportsNet Chicago will debut a special one-hour documentary on Frank Thomas, who will soon be a Baseball Hall of Famer. "Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas," which will be narrated by Richard Roeper, will premiere later this week, exclusively on CSN Chicago.
Later this month, former Chicago White Sox superstar Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. In advance of this special occasion, CSN Chicago has produced an all-new documentary that chronicles the life and playing career of Thomas.
"Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas" covers everything from the slugger's childhood days being a three-sports star in Columbus, GA, to his historic, record-breaking career with the White Sox, which led him to get the call that will enshrine his legacy in the Hall of Fame.
The documentary will feature exclusive, candid interviews with Thomas, as well as with some of the people who know Thomas and his achievements best. Among those interviewed for this special include: White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox television play-by-play announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, former White Sox analyst Tom Paciorek, White Sox radio play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer, former teammate/current White Sox radio analyst Darrin Jackson, Thomas' Columbus High School baseball coach Bobby Howard, former White Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak, sports psychologist Jim Fannin, former White Sox teammate Paul Konerko, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia, Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington, Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona, Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson, and Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly.
The documentary will also feature the exclusive, behind-the-scenes access video of when Thomas received the official induction phone call from the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as Thomas' exclusive tour of the Hall of Fame with CSN Chicago's White Sox Pre/Postgame Live host Chuck Garfien, which took place earlier this year. Additionally, the special will feature never-before-seen photos and videos of Thomas' baseball and football playing days in high school and college, video of Thomas' favorite childhood hangouts in Columbus, GA, videos of Thomas' biggest home runs throughout his remarkable career, and more.
"Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas" was produced, written, and edited by CSN Chicago's multiple Emmy Award-winning tandem of Sarah Lauch (CSN's Executive Producer of Original Content) and Ryan McGuffey (CSN's Senior Producer of Original Content).
The documentary is narrated by Richard Roeper -- the lifelong White Sox fan, Chicago Sun-Times reporter/columnist, WLS-AM radio host, Starz movie reviewer, national media personality, and author.
"Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas" will make its debut on Thursday, July 17th at at 6:30pm. The 60-minute special will again re-air at 10:00pm Thursday night. In between those two airings on Thursday evening, CSN Chicago will broadcast a "Frank Thomas Classic" Chicago White Sox game. This game was originally broadcast on SportsChannel (a predecessor to CSN Chicago) on July 27, 1993, one of Thomas' MVP years. That game had the White Sox hosting the Cleveland Indians and featured Thomas going 4-4 with two home runs and five RBI, leading the White Sox to a 7-4 victory.
In addition, CSN Chicago currently has encore showings of "Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas" scheduled for Saturday, July 26th at 7:00pm, and on Sunday, July 27th at 4:30pm, which is the day of Frank Thomas' Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
For those wanting more, the local sports station's website, CSNChicago.com, will soon feature excerpts from the documentary, as well as web-only exclusives not shown on television.
Kevin Cross, News Director for CSN Chicago, said: "Frank Thomas is not only a Chicago baseball legend, but he will go down as one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game. Our production team, led by Sarah and Ryan, has truly captured the story of Frank's life in a special way and, more importantly, fans will be able to understand the true essence of what this Hall of Famer is all about."
Frank Thomas is now in his third year as an in-studio analyst for CSN Chicago's White Sox baseball pre-games, post-games, news reports and specials. He also does occasional baseball analysis for MLB on FOX. Outside of baseball and television, Thomas serves as the CEO of the record label W2W Records.
Here are some noteworthy quotes, taken from interviews found within the upcoming documentary "Welcome to Cooperstown: Frank Thomas," premiering on Thursday...
FRANK THOMAS on being passed up in the MLB Draft:
"Not getting drafted out of high school was the worst moment of my life at that time because I knew that I was much better than pretty much half that draft. It was a lot of guys I played with in high school. A lot of guys got drafted. I want to say seven, eight, nine guys got drafted and I felt like I was the best player in the state. Most of the scouts played off, 'Oh, you're just a football player playing baseball.' I took it serious because I knew what I had to give for baseball. They could have signed me out of high school for a dozen baseballs and a couple fungos. I was taking it hard because I wanted to play baseball. But, thank god I had the focus and the desire and the ability to play another sport. Football was my second sport, but it was really my first sport because all the big schools were recruiting me to play football. I just made that decision. My dad (Frank Sr.) told me, he said 'Hey, we got a full ride to Auburn, let's go be a football player and walk onto the baseball team later.' He was right and that fire was burnt there that I was going to be the best football player I could be... and it turned out that going that extra yard for football made me a much better baseball player."
FRANK THOMAS on his first impression of Chicago:
"When I got here it was the biggest city I'd ever seen. It motivated me. I'm like, 'I can't be a failure here... there's too many people watching.' And it wasn't easy being this big guy down in the minor leagues because everybody made a big deal out of it. I'd have a lot of people call me saying 'they're making a big deal about you coming up this year'... and I was like, 'I'm ready for it.' I just felt that if I continued to work harder, harder, and harder... I just didn't want to let anybody down. I had my dad pushing me too. My dad was there. He wanted me to be the best. He wanted me to go that extra mile."
FRANK THOMAS on the winning the MVP award in 1994, but losing out on the opportunity of possibly going to the World Series:
"It was bittersweet. Of course you're happy winning another MVP, but to not finish that type of season with a team that was ready to go, and a year later we broke it all apart... it hurts. It'll always hurt. You learn to live with things, but you'll never get over it. I'll never get over 1994."
FRANK THOMAS on being a part of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox team:
"Being here so long, I felt it was my duty to be here for my teammates that year. It was my choice to come back early. (That team) had everything... the pitching... the defense... we had power... we had guys hit for average... and we had a cohesion for the first time that I had never seen before that it seemed like the whole team got along. You had some strong personalities in there that when you want to go in a foxhole, those personalities were on that team. However, it was damaging to me, not to be on that field in 2005, but I saw something special and that's part of being a team. I had grown up a lot. I had been in the game a long, long time. I've accomplished everything except getting a ring and I felt I could help guys mentally and help them with their approaches against certain guys I'd faced over and over that season. I felt like I had a big voice on that team just because of that. But, I cared about those guys and I'm so happy they got me to the finish line... they got me a ring."
WALT HRINIAK on Thomas' dominance at the plate:
"Frank Thomas is the best hitter I ever saw all around. If I had to pick one guy to start a lineup, Frank would be my guy and I'd hit him third... he'd be the guy. Every day I went out there to work with Frank and every day we took batting practice. He did stuff that amazed me. He would do stuff in batting practice that would just blow you away... and I played with Hank Aaron, I played against Willie Mays, I played against (Roberto) Clemente... but every day, this guy did things with the bat in his hands that just blew me away. He'd hit a ball down the right field line like a little 'Punch and Judy' and then, the next pitch he'd hit over the centerfield wall, you know, 430 feet, c'mon!”
KEN "HAWK" HARRELSON on how he came up with "The Big Hurt" nickname:
"I just blurted it out one day. I kept saying, 'he hurt it, he hurt it, he hurt it.' He'd kill one into left center, 'he hurt it.' One day he hits a home run... I'm watching him go around first base... and I said, 'The Big Hurt' and it just blurted out and that's how that came about. It turned out to be a pretty good nickname for him."
JERRY REINSDORF on Thomas' unique combination of power and average:
"Frank Thomas was amazing. He had such tremendous plate discipline. Rarely do you see a combination of power and plate discipline like he had. I mean, Ted Williams had it, but Frank was certainly one of the top two or three right-handed hitters that I'd ever seen. He was just an amazing guy, but when he first came up, I don't think he hit a home run for the first three weeks I think... and we were wondering if this guy was ever going to hit a home run, but it certainly turned out that he did. More importantly was his on-base percentage was incredible and his ability to use the whole field was incredible."
BILLY BEANE on Thomas' lasting impact in Oakland:
"He (Thomas) will always be known as a Chicago White Sox, but to have one of those great years, Hall of Fame career (years), come to Oakland and that year we won the division. He had a huge impact. We loved him as a player. We loved him as a person. We like him so much that our fantasy football league is forever named after him. There's only one Frank Thomas, but we wanted our players to be that type of hitter. The power, the patience, and then he had such professionalism about every single look at bat, he never wanted to give away a pitch, never wanted to give away one at bat, and it was great. He's a well-deserved Hall of Famer and, for a guy who spent one year out here, he put his mark on the people in Oakland."
PAUL KONERKO on Thomas being one of the all-time great hitters:
"Just like any other great hitter, when I say great hitter, he's on the short list of a few guys that's ever played. For me, it's just that if you hit for a bunch of power, you have to sacrifice average and discipline and, if you hit for high average and you're an on-base guy, then you don't hit for a lot of power. He just blows that out of the water. So, there's only a handful of guys that have done that... that can do both. I know just in my own career that many times it feels like you have a choice. Well, I can try to hit for power, I can get some hits, but it's very hard to do both. I feel like it's one of the other a lot of the time, but when you have a guy like that who has an on-base percentage of .400 and hits .330, but also hits 40 home runs and drives in runs... I mean, it seems like it is impossible. He's one of the few that pulled it off."