Doc’s Sports Cards Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Its Closing. Part I (Frank Thomas) :

Doc’s Sports Cards Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Its Closing. Part I (Frank Thomas) :

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The Doctor is Out: Part One.   Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, the Big Hurt: Fuck This

Murray Silver holding baseball signed by Chicago White Sox baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas.Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on 27 July 2014. Perhaps you saw the film of his induction when he broke down in tears as he remembered his father on the day that all players wish their dad was with them. It's the only time I've ever seen Frank cry, memorable if for no other reason than he has a smile so bright that it puts the sun to shame. In his prime he was beautiful to look upon: built like a Roman god, movie star handsome, with the sweetest swing since Benny Goodman.

I met Frank Thomas back in 1991, when both of us were just getting into the game: he was the rising star of the Chicago White Sox and I had just opened a baseball card shop on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta, a foolish endeavor in that the Atlanta Braves had just finished the prior year in the cellar and there weren't six people in the entire town that wanted their memorabilia. Frank, who was born and raised in Columbus, GA, passed through Atlanta whenever he went home to visit mama, and Sox tv announcer Kenny “The Hawk” Harrelson told Thomas; “If you're ever in Atlanta, stop in and see my old friend Murray Silver at Doc's.” Imagine, then, the thrill created in my eight-foot-wide cubicle of a shop on the day that “The Big Hurt”– as Kenny dubbed him– dropped by to say hello and sign autographs.

Parenthetically I should insert here another fascinating aspect to this story: Kenny Harrelson is from my hometown of Savannah, and long before he turned pro in the Sixties he played little league ball on a team managed by my daddy. I was the official bat boy. Kenny went to Benedictine Military School– where my father graduated in 1947– and my dad recalls that he bought Kenny his first pair of cleats when his mother couldn't afford them on a waitress' salary. Kenny has been long gone from Savannah, but he still has many friends here and always goes out of his way to accommodate them whenever they visit U.S. Cellular Field to see the White Sox. Back in '92, Kenny interrupted a broadcast of the game to wish me happy birthday on October 3rd.

Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, at MurraySilverJr.comBut back to Big Frank: He spends the afternoon with me and a few pals at Doc's. He's posing for pics and telling rookie stories. Before he goes I ask him for the favor of an obligatory autograph in order to preserve the moment. Sure, he says, as I hand him a creamy white Comiskey Park Inaugural Year Ball from 1991 and a pen. He scratches off his name, punctuates it with a “35” (his jersey number, now retired by the team), and before handing it back I ask him for a second signature: “The Big Hurt”. Done. He hands the ball back to me and I admire his handiwork.

“Wait a minute,” I say to Frank. “What's this?”

“That's my signature,” he said, wide eyed with surprise.

“Look at this,” I said. “What does it look like it says?”

Frank stared at his signature. “Oh,” he says, “the guys told me that I'd be signing lots of autographs and that I should develop a shorthand version, you know, quick and easy. So that's my signature…”

“Yeah, but it's an F slash k and a Th slash s. It looks like it says 'Fuck This.'”

Thomas reddened with embarrassment as his friends laughed their ass off. “Man, I'm outta here,” he said, and beat a path for the exit.

And now, 23 years down the road, Doc's has been closed for twenty years and Frank Thomas is in the Hall of Fame.

Those of you who know nothing of baseball should at least be impressed with the fact that Frank is one of only five players to have hit more than 500 home runs and maintain a career batting average over .300– and, more importantly, he did it without the aid of performance enhancing drugs at a time when all the guys making headlines were pumping up with a powerful poison.

PS: Frank Thomas married a white chick named Diane Silver; I have a cousin with the same name. Many people who know me and know this about Frank assumed that the two Dianes were one and the same; they aren't. Some of my pals knew this about Frank before I did, and I couldn't figure out why every time I ran into them they'd ask me about my “Cousin Frank”.

Pictured here: The Doctor, wearing the jersey that he wore as proprietor of Doc's, with a logo fashioned after the Chicago White Sox, and holding the ball in question.

If you enjoy stories about unsual characters, famous and infamous, you may enjoy my memoirs, "When Elvis Meets the Dalai Lama".

Comments

  1.  

     

    Hello from Ohio

    I can envision Frank's face as you embarrassed him in front of his friends. I know from years of experience that men's egos are extremley fragile.  The fact that his friends are roaring with laughter at him had to make him feel about an inch tall.  I have unintentionally let things spill out of my mouth without filtering many times. It was I who felt bad after doing these kinds of things. Did it affect you likewise?

    Men seem to be able to slam dunk one another easier than we women.  Then they go have a beer together.  Women are much more sensitive to other women's remarks that may embarass them…albeit they may be deserving of such remark. Just a casual obversation.  

    Not lengthy at all…Rambling Rose here can  go on and on and on…mouth like that little bunny that keeps going and going…I would have probably had to call him back in and apologize.  Did he ever forget it?

     

     

    • Hey, Diane. No, he was not embarassed. It was all in good fun. He was a good sport about it- and I still have the ball.

  2. Hey Doc – I sure miss hanging with you at the shop…

  3. Thanks for finally writing about >Frank Thomas Hall of Famer signs baseball <Loved it!

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