|The Big Hurt|
When Frank started being injured in the late 90's/early 2000's my interest in baseball waned; meanwhile Bonds had the 4 best offensive seasons of all time and I only watched parts of the last one in 2004. I didn't have cable for a while so watching baseball was challenging to say the least and without Frank being there it never felt quite right. Of course he came back and had a really good end to his career with excellent seasons in Oakland and Toronto; despite him not being on the White Sox at the time I was still really invested in his performance.
Fortunately we eventually got TBS and WGN so I was able to watch a fair number of White Sox, Cubs, and Braves games and even tuned in to watch Randy Johnson's perfect game in 2004. Still, an entire 3-4 years was lost solely due to the incredible presence of Frank Thomas missing or being injured; that is how influential he was on my baseball life. A naturally enormous person who spoke out against steroids when no one cared, now he gets in on the first ballot as a result. Note: I don't actually care about steroids but it definitely swung Frank from a 76-77% of the vote type of guy to an 80-85% type; so that's pretty cool.
I don't even have to look up his stats, .301 batting average, 512 Homers, 1701 RBI; he's easily the best offensive player of the 1990s and just an utter beast. One of the best right handed hitters of all time gets his due, and I think for the first time the White Sox have a first ballot HoFer; though we have had quite famous borderline cases such as Minnie Minoso and even Harold Baines. Baines might eventually get in on the Veteran's committee and he'll have Frank to thank, he is the first DH for the majority of his career to make the Hall and sort of paves the way for David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez, and Harold Baines in the future.