Former Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas will announce his retirement Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
For Frank Thomas, it all ended where it started.
After accepting a lifetime achievement award Thursday night at the Comcast SportsNet/March of Dimes Sports Awards at the Hilton Chicago, Thomas announced his retirement.
The "Big Hurt" is expected to expound on the decision this morning at a U.S. Cellular Field news conference. The team also announced this morning that it would retire Thomas' No. 35 during an on-field ceremony Aug. 29.
While fighting back tears Thursday night, the greatest hitter in White Sox history reflected on playing 16 seasons (1990-2005) on the South Side.
"It seems like just yesterday I came to this town and started my career," Thomas said. "I've given everything to this town. I told people when I left here, 'There's no place like Chicago.' And there's no other team or organization that's going to treat me like Chicago did."
Thomas, who turns 42 on May 27, sat out last season after failing to get a job offer. He struggled to stay healthy in 2008 while batting .240 with 8 home runs and 30 RBI in 71 games with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland A's.
A two-time MVP with the Sox, Thomas is the franchise leader in 12 offensive categories, including home runs (448), RBI (1,465) and slugging percentage (.568).
He grudgingly left the White Sox shortly after they won the World Series and later engaged in a war of words with general manager Kenny Williams.
The well-publicized spat (Williams called Thomas an "idiot") seemed to sever all ties between the player and organization, but Williams reached out to Thomas last March.
"My voice message to him was, our feelings for each other aside, if he wanted to retire as a White Sox, be it this year, next, etc.," Williams told the Daily Herald, "I would not stand in his way, and in fact think that he deserves and our fans deserve to see him retire as a White Sox. He is the greatest hitter in Sox history, and that must be recognized. I never heard back from him."
Williams is sure to be hearing back from Thomas now that he's retired.
"I've had fun throughout my career here and believe me, it wasn't all roses," Thomas said Thursday night. "I really tried to be a perfect ballplayer and it doesn't work. I spent too much of my precious time in this town trying to be perfect. I know there have been some trying times ... but Chicago made me who I am.
"I tell people that day in and day out. It's called pro sports. There are a lot of great times, there are a lot of bad times. A true warrior survives and I did survive."