Talking Frank Thomas and Frank Thomas

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – I had a chance to talk with Frank Thomas Saturday.

In two different locales. In two different generations.

One conversation was with Frank Thomas, the Hall of Fame inductee, who addressed the media for 30 minutes at the Clark Sports Center gymnasium along with fellow inductees Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre. The other conversation was with Frank Thomas, who happens to be the same age as my dad at 85.

But he played 16 more years in the Majors than my dad and hit 286 more home runs.

Thomas played for the Pirates, Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Astros, Cincinnati Redlegs and the Milwaukee Braves. He hit 30 homers in 1953 for the Pirates and topped 25 homers in seven different seasons.

He was signing autographs in Cooperstown this weekend on Main St.—of course there’s a Main St. in Cooperstown. Thomas was billed by one man as the “original Frank Thomas,” hearing memories from various fans from various teams where he played. He also had time to congratulate the man who shares his name for this Hall of Fame achievement.

“I know he was a great ballplayer and a good kid. He had a lot of power,” Thomas said of Thomas.

“Between the two of us we have over 800 home runs,” Thomas added with a smile. “That’s not too bad.”

The two Frank Thomases actually met during the 1994 All-Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

“I walked in the clubhouse and he said, ‘You are big,’ and I said, ‘Not as big as you,’” said Thomas, who stood at 6-3, 200 pounds, of the Big Hurt, who reached 6-5, 270. “I told him, ‘I get about 20-25 bubble gum cards of yours every week.’ He said, ‘I’m getting quite a few of yours too.’ I said, ‘Good. Keep my name in the public eye.’”

Although his role was as a former player signing autographs, Thomas thoroughly enjoyed being part of the other Frank Thomas’ memorable weekend.

“It’s great. You can talk baseball to anyone. Even if they don’t like baseball, they’ll like to listen,” Thomas said. “I’m really enjoying this. The people are great.”

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