Thomas, Mussina await HOF call
CHICAGO (AP) — They faced off 96 times in a span of 17 years. Frank Thomas at the plate and Mike Mussina on the mound, one of baseball’s most feared sluggers taking on one of the sport’s smartest players.
There were warm summer days and brisk spring nights. Big games and small ones, everywhere from the Bronx to Chicago’s South Side to Oakland on the West Coast.
It’s a string that runs through the careers of two decorated players, who find out Wednesday if they are headed for one more honor, a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Thomas was one of the toughest outs in the majors during his heyday, hitting 524 homers and driving in 1,704 runs during a sparkling 19-year career spent mostly with the White Sox. Aptly nicknamed The Big Hurt, the 6-foot-5 Thomas also had a .301 batting average, .419 on-base percentage and a .555 slugging percentage for his career, numbers that stack up favorably when compared to some of the biggest names in Cooperstown.
Mussina, a native of Williamsport, Pa., was one of baseball’s most consistent pitchers during his 18-year career with the Orioles and Yankees, recording at least 18 victories in six seasons and winning at least 11 games in each of his last 17 years in the majors. A seven-time Gold Glove winner, he finished with a 270-153 record and a 3.68 ERA while pitching in the challenging AL East.