Frank Thomas announced his retirement from baseball last week. The “Big Hurt” leaves the game sitting atop 521 round trippers and a pair of league Most Valuable Player Awards (1993 & 1994). In years past, this would typically call for someone to begin the engraving process for a plaque at Coopertown that would be most assuredly be presented five years from now. Thomas has never been linked or connected with the PED scandal that has plagued us for some time, and hope it stays that way. I have always liked Thomas and I trust many of you do as well.
I suspect there will a small spike in the offerings of or requests for of his game used material with the seller’s making remarks of “get it now before he makes the Hall.” Unless you have to have a Frank Thomas jersey today, you may want to wait a while. This has nothing to do with Frank Thomas, but something I have noticed as a general trend in years past. Consider a Hall of Fame caliber player along this time line.
Announces Retirement: Player may well have been slipping in production the last few years. His retirement begins talk of his career anew and with this comes increased interest in his items. For the next year or so, this will continue and a well liked player such as Thomas may possibly find his way into some form of commentary, keeping him the public eye.
Years 4 and 5 of his retirement will bring a resurgence of his career as folks begin to debate the merits of his enshrinement or if his is a “First Ballot” Hall of Famer or not. What happens during years 2 and 3? He is less publicized, his offerings may be fewer, but they are also likely not to draw the same amount of attention, or bidder buyer action. So what might you do in the mean time? Start saving for what you want and take some time getting comfortable with what right is likely to look like before you buy.
When a player retires or is knocking on the door to Cooperstown, items from his best seasons are in high demand. For Thomas, this would likely be product from his early career and or his MVP seasons. What I am laying out for Frank Thomas, actually represents a template you can use in developing your own Player Collecting Profile.
SIZING UP THE BIG HURT IN THE 90’s
Street and Smith Baseball Yearbooks:
1991: 6’, 5” 240lbs
1992: 6’, 5” 240lbs
1993: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1994: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1995: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1996: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1997: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1998: 6’, 5” 257lbs
1999: 6’, 5” 270lbs
As a data point that may be used for comparison, a Russell-White Sox team order sheet for jerseys sent to the White Sox Spring Training facility in Sarasota Florida in 1994 shows two jerseys ordered for Thomas as being size 46 with +2 length. I found this on E-bay a while back and thought it was worth saving and passing along.
Frank Thomas jerseys in the MEARS Data base:
1990 Home: Size 46+1
1992 Black: Size 46
1992 Road: Size 48
1993 Road: Size 46+2
1994 Home: Size 46 (Team Letter)
1995 Black: Size 48
1998 Home: Size 48+2 (Team Letter)
1999 Road: Size 50+2 (Team Letter)
Depending on what you are looking for by year, home road, etc for Thomas, you are going to be dealing with a number of manufacturers, even within a given year. Spend some time and money looking at and maybe acquiring some common player jerseys from the period as well. I would also recommend spending a few bucks on period references such as yearbooks or similar dated periodicals to help along the way. More and more people are asking that I look at knits, so I am compelled to pick up exemplar uniforms as I have done with flannels. Like you, I can’t afford to buy everything, especially since I purchase all of my own reference material. With that being said, my focus in this area is either styles I like or those from periods of prominence for a particular team or player. I have always like the White Sox unis, and as such, I picked up a grouping of various products from the late 1980s through the early 1990s. Should I be asked to look at period Frank Thomas jersey, these will undoubtedly come in handy. If not, I am still left with jerseys that I enjoy.
My favorite in this mix is my 1994 Thomas road jersey. No not Frank, but Larry Thomas, a White Sox pitcher who did not make the club in 1994. With this shirt I got an example of team tagging and lettering for the name THOMAS from the Big Hurts second MVP season. In looking to make this purchase, I ensured I was getting mix of home and road offerings as well as manufacturers like Rawlings, Wilson and Russell. I bought many of these shirts from long time dealer and hobbyist Murf Denny. Murf currently has dozens of White Sox jerseys on consignment that were part of bulk team buy a few years back. Murf and Pat are a delight to deal with I would recommend them highly to prospective buyers. The Denny’s web site can be found at www.murfandpat.com.
Take your time, decide what you want and what it should look like, and be comfortable with your purchase decision. Whether it’s a Frank Thomas jersey or not, if you do all of these things, you can avoid a “Big Hurt” to your wallet and add something meaningful to your collection.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com