Monday, July 28, 2014

Did 'Tomahawk Chop' overwhelm White Sox, Chicago moments of glory?

(Not in) COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- On the day that long-time Chicago White Sox hitter Frank Thomas got inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, one of the sights seen Sunday was that of a lone White Sox jersey-clad fan surrounded by Atlanta Braves fans who persisted in performing their nonsensical Tomahawk Chop.

Then again, maybe it was symbolic of what the White Sox franchise's fan base is like -- a small group of die-hards wondering why all the baseball fans around them get worked up over such nonsense.

BUT SUNDAY WAS the day that Thomas was formally inducted into the Hall of Fame, which is a designation he will continue to have long after he passes on from this particular realm of existence.

All those Atlanta fans (whom I'm sure could care less about how silly they looked or how some will claim their "chop" is racist and offensive) were on hand because of the fact that the manager and two top pitchers from their string of winning ball clubs of the 1990s all got into the Hall of Fame as well.

But those of us focused on the Second City merely viewed that as the prelude to seeing Thomas get his honors, with some even noting the fact that long-time manager Tony LaRussa began his career as a major league skipper on the South Side.

We're the ones who took some pleasure in seeing the tearful (literally, his voice kept choking up, particularly when speaking of his late father) Thomas try to make sure to thank everyone who had an influence on his life. "I'm an emotional guy who wears my heart on my sleeve," he said.

HE SPENT QUITE a bit of time talking of his family. But also worked his way through the nearly 850 ballplayers he was teammates with. Not that he actually named them all. But he rattled through a list of nicknames that included a lot of otherwise long-forgotten White Sox players.

Some of whom I'm sure only the most hard-core of fans remember.

Although he also gave some more detailed credit to long-time hitting coach Walt Hriniak, broadcaster Ken Harrelson (who came up with the "Big Hurt" nickname that may be the "Hawk's" lasting contribution to baseball) and manager Ozzie Guillen.

The latter for, "leading us to my only (championship) ring" in 2005. Of whom fellow teammates Jermaine Dye (the World Series MVP that year) and Aaron Rowand were present in Cooperstown on Sunday.

I'D BE REMISS if I wrote that Thomas was the only Chicago moment.

For Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux acknowledged the fact that half of his major league stint was with the Chicago Cubs, and he gave that 1989 ball club (managed by the late Don Zimmer) that went to the National League playoffs some recognition.

He even downplayed the ineptitude of Cubs management that let Maddux go even though it was apparent he was one of the best baseball pitchers of the era, saying instead on Sunday he left Chicago for Atlanta because he was looking for a nice place to raise a family.

Even LaRussa included the Chicago memories, even though many baseball fans tend to forget the 1983 division title White Sox to focus on the championship ball clubs Tony led in Oakland and with the St. Louis Cardinals.

LaRUSSA DIDN'T. HE mentioned those early-to-mid-1980s White Sox teams that had future Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Tom Seaver, along with talented leaders such as Greg Luzinski (he of the multiple rooftop shots, of which we can only dream how many Thomas would have hit if the old Comiskey Park were still standing) and Jerry Koosman.

LaRussa also gave a jolt to many White Sox fans when he recalled fan favorite Harold Baines, who came close to getting 3,000 base hits during his career and has some fans believing he should be a Hall of Famer as well.

"Like Tony Oliva (the Minnesota Twin star of the late 1960s), if (Harold) had kept his knees together (injuries), he'd have had his 3,000 hits," LaRussa said.

Perhaps that train of thought will influence the Veterans Committees the Hall of Fame has that give second chance consideration to ballplayers who fall short of induction like Baines himself has thus far.


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