'Big Hurt' gets last laugh over drug cheats

Thu Jan 9, 2014 6:07pm EST
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas may have suffered from comparisons to doping cheaters during his major league career but is enjoying the last laugh as a newly elected member of Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Thomas, elected to baseball's shrine along with former Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in results announced on Wednesday, called himself "the happiest man in the world" on Thursday for honestly slugging his way to Cooperstown.

An outspoken critic against performance enhancing drugs, the former college football tight end belted 521 home runs with a .301 batting average and .419 on-base percentage over a 19-year career spent mainly with the Chicago White Sox.

"They made their own decision," Thomas told reporters at a midtown Manhattan hotel after a formal news conference with Maddux and Glavine in which they donned Hall of Fame jerseys.

"We live this life with rules and regulations. You break the law you go to jail. In baseball, you break the law, you're not going to be in the Hall of Fame."

The 2014 election came a year after a Cooperstown shutout in which no players won enough votes for induction.

The prospective 2013 class had included home run king Barry Bonds, a seven-time Most Valuable Player, and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens - both strongly suspected of having used performance enhancing drugs.

"Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have a special place in my heart because I competed with them for so many years and I know what they were before all this scandal took off," said Thomas.   Continued...

Former MLB player Frank Thomas hits a home run during the Legends and Celebrities All-Star softball game at Citi Field in New York in this July 14, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Adam Hunger/Files