Yesterday I made it to U.S. Cellular Field to see the second Frank Thomas day in as many years. Last August I saw the team retire his number. Yesterday they gave him a statue in left field. Frank was probably the best hitter I have seen so far in my life. I have seen players hit more home runs and hit for a higher average, but none that could do both while staying clean.
I got to the park very early yesterday learning from my mistake last August. I pulled into the parking lot just as the gates opened last year, and found a madhouse. I was not even close to getting the special bobblehead they were giving away. This year I got to the park over an hour before the gates opened and found myself about tenth in one of the lines to get in. I knew then that if I hustled just a little I could get a front row spot for the ceremony. As the gates opened I moved as fast as I could to get to the spot in left where the ceremony was taking place. I found a spot on the far side of the barricades that were set up. As luck would have it they set up more barricades just to my left to form the tunnel that everyone would walk through. I had a great spot for the show. Just before everything got going though things got kind of crazy. I was getting a picture of the covered statue when a hand pushed me in the back. I pitched forward a little and saw someone flying through the crowd. As he moved past the barricade he kicked my camera bag into the aisle way that the ushers had created. I didn’t know it at the time, but the guy who barged through the line was White Sox team photographer Ron Vesely. I told him thanks for kicking my bag, and bent over to pick it up. When I straightened back up he was looking at me with a confrontational look in his eyes. He explained that he said excuse me as he went by. I guess that you can just knock someone around if you say excuse me. I guess I could see that he thought he was missing a shot so maybe he panicked and tried to get into the ceremony area quickly. I would never boo a player, but I think that I will have to boo Ron every time he takes the field to get a picture.
The ceremony itself was very short and sweet. Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson introduced Frank and then let him say a few words. The Hawk then came back to talk about what a great career Frank had, and that he should be voted into the Hall on the first ballot. I happen to agree with him there. Then the entire Thomas family went to the statue to unveil it. Frank stood back to watch as his wife and kids pulled the cover off of it. Frank really had an expression of surprise and happiness on his face as he saw it for the first time. That has to be a great feeling to see yourself in bronze like that.
After the ceremony I went to my seat to watch the game. Frank came out in a beautiful old car to throw out the first pitch. That was just about the last highlight of the day for the Sox. They had the lead into the seventh inning, but lost the game 5-3 to the Red Sox. I may put up a post of the game tomorrow if the mood strikes me. Right now I want to concentrate on the positives from yesterday. Instead of a game post I will put up a few more pictures from the statue ceremony.