Frank Thomas On Steroid Use: “It was a secret society. I had no idea.”

June 3, 2011 – 8:15 am by Michael Bean

Will Frank Thomas be a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible? His numbers sure would have been considered a lock to be enshrined in Cooperstown if you had asked that question ten or twenty years ago. But with so much uncertainty hanging over the Steroids Era in baseball, I suppose there’s a chance that The Big Hurt might have to wait a few years before receiving the necessary votes even though there was never any controversy or scandal involving Thomas himself. He doesn’t seem to be too preoccupied with the whole topic of steroids though. As you’ll hear, he just didn’t know very much about who was taking them while he was playing, and he hasn’t been in too close of contact with many of his former teammates.

Thomas joined WSCR in Chicago with Boers and Bernstein to talk about being in a good place mentally with his retirement, what he thinks is wrong with Adam Dunn, why he’s not surprised that Dunn has been struggling so far, how little he knew about steroid’s prevalence during his playing days, not being resentful towards those players that did take steroids, why he thinks some players that were already great decided to take PEDs, which of his 521 career home runs was his favorite, how Tim Raines is the one guy he’s kept in real close contact with, and how Raines just had twins with his new wife at the age of 50.

If he’s happy with where he’s at personally no longer playing or if there’s still a sense that he could and should still be playing:

“I think this year was closure for me. Going to a spring training game for the first time, sitting in the stands going ‘yeah it’s over.’ There was no foul emotion inside me saying ‘I should be playing the game’, there was nothing like that. I was just enjoying the game, having a hot dog, having a good time.”

On what he thinks is wrong with Adam Dunn:

“I knew this was going to happen, to be honest. This guy’s playing out of position. He’s been an outfielder and first baseman his whole career and he comes to a new league and has to DH every day, it’s not easy at all. I’ve been there. Over my career, I probably lost 30 points on my batting average once I became a full time DH. It’s just really tough to stay loose, stay focused and stay part of the game. You’re coming in four pinches a day, five pinches a day. It’s a different mindset. I think he’ll be fine going into the third month of the season. I really thought he’d be in trouble the first couple of months.”

On how much he knew about steroid’s prevalence during his playing days:

“I’ll be honest with you. It was a secret society. I had no idea. I think I was the one guy that when they were having that conversation they would stop quickly when I walked in the room. For many, many years I had a lot of teammates that were involved and I had no idea it was going, or the way it was going on. There were always rumblings about one or two guys, but to know the numbers that really came out, I was really, really shocked.”

On if he is at all resentful towards the players who did use steroids:

“I can’t hate guys for what they did. The money exploded in the nineties like they had never seen before. And it’s hard for anyone for their families not to do what is best for their family. Guys got to a weak point in their lives and did what they had to do. But I look back on it now and there are no grudges for me for anyone. I just wish I had known about it.”

On great players still making the decision to take PEDs so that other great players wouldn’t pass them by:

“We just saw great players become amazing players. Wow, I got to witness it, I got to play against it. It wasn’t just the hitters it was the pitchers also. I went from seeing guys paint around 91-92 MPH to it seemed like the whole staff throwing above 95. So the game definitely changed right before my eyes. But me being the hard worker, it was, ‘I got to work a little bit harder, these guys are catching up to me fast.’ I thank God I was blessed with the ability that I have and I’m happy to go home now and sleep very, very soundly every night not wondering if someone is going to call me to figure out what happened back in such and such and such, because I’m sure there are a lot of guys going home right now still worried.”

On which of his 521 career homeruns was his favorite:

“To be honest? I would say coming back here and hitting two the first night in another uniform. Because my heart was always in Chicago and I never wanted to leave this place. I was struggling that year and to come home and feel like, ‘Hey, I’m home. This is my batters box. I was here when they built this stadium.’ And to hit two home runs right away it was just fulfilling to my heart because Chicago has always been a special place in my heart and it’s home for me.”

The hosts then mentioned they were surprised not to hear him say his 500th HR:

“500 was great, it was a great moment in time. But I’ve just got to be honest, I didn’t want to leave Chicago and I wanted to finish my career here. I just knew something was missing that season, and when I got here that night, my whole season turned around and I just became the player I’d been my whole career.”

If he has stayed in contact with any of his former teammates:

“The one guy I’ve been in the most contact with is Tim Raines, one of the funniest guys ever in the game. And check it out, he just had twins eight months ago, so Rock and his new wife just had twins eight months ago and he’s 50 years old, so it’s a beautiful world out there after retirement.”

Listen here to Thomas with Boers & Bernstein on 670 The Score in Chicago

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