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updated: 7/27/2014 12:04 AM

Thomas a true fan favorite

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  • White Sox fans have flocked to Cooperstown to watch the best hitter in franchise history, Frank Thomas, be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.

      White Sox fans have flocked to Cooperstown to watch the best hitter in franchise history, Frank Thomas, be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday.
    Associated Press

  • J.T. Stringer, 7, lower right, of Chicago, plays baseball in the street while the Hall of Fame Legends Parade passes by on the way to Main Street on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

      J.T. Stringer, 7, lower right, of Chicago, plays baseball in the street while the Hall of Fame Legends Parade passes by on the way to Main Street on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    Associated Press

  • Baseball Hall of Fame electees Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre are introduced during an awards ceremony at Doubleday Field on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be inducted on Sunday.

      Baseball Hall of Fame electees Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas and Joe Torre are introduced during an awards ceremony at Doubleday Field on Saturday, July 26, 2014, in Cooperstown, N.Y. They will be inducted on Sunday.
    Associated Press

 
 

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- As head baseball coach of the Huntley High School baseball team the past nine years, Andy Jakubowski has molded powerhouse teams and quality players.

Jakubowski appreciates good baseball, and that's why he was getting his seats ready on Saturday for Frank Thomas' Hall of Fame induction at Clark Sports Center.

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"He was my favorite White Sox player," Jakubowski said. "He was a special player and just the way he went about the game, he played the game hard each and every day.

"He was not only a power hitter, he took his walks and got on base and he prided himself on his on-base percentage, runs scored, driving in runs, and that's what the game's all about. Great power, great guy. A very special person."

Along with his wife Michelle -- Barrington High School's new girl's volleyball coach -- and three children, Andy is looking forward to watching Thomas achieve major-league baseball's ultimate honor.

"(Albert) Pujols and (Miguel) Cabrera are two of the greatest right-handed hitters ever, but I'd put Thomas right up there with them," said Jakubowski, who calls Lake in the Hills home. "Pete Rose was my idol, but Frank would definitely be in my top 5."

Another big Thomas fan, Gene Hynes of Plainfield, also made the trip to Cooperstown a family affair. He brought his son, Patrick, and grandson, Brandon Gagmon.

"Nellie Fox is my all-time favorite White Sox player," said Gene, who was wearing the second baseman's No. 2 jersey. He journeyed to Cooperstown in 1997 for Fox's posthumous induction.

"Nellie is No. 1 and Frank is my No. 2 all-time favorite because of how awesome he was," Gene said. "And Frank being so outspoken about all of the steroids that were being used when he played, that carries a tremendous amount of weight. All of those years, guys were making themselves bigger and better, but Frank stayed true.

"And he still was able to do what 99 percent of the other guys couldn't do."

Sox fans traveled to the Hall of Fame in droves to help celebrate Thomas' big day.

"The fans have made me who I am," Thomas said. "Carrying the nickname like the Big Hurt, Hawk Harrelson pinned me with that and it stuck.

"The fans love it and rallied around it for many, many years. I'm really honored to have a name that's sticking like that. More people call me that than my name."

Enjoy the Thomas induction, White Sox fans, because you never know when the next homegrown South Sider is going to make it to the Hall of Fame.

"This might be the last time we see a White Sox players get in the Hall of Fame for many, many years," Andy Jakubowski said. "(Chris) Sale's on the right track and hopefully he can have another 10, 15 good years. But it might be very few and far between to get a White Sox player inducted."

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