By Andrew Seligman
CHICAGO — The way Hall of Famer Frank Thomas sees it, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens might as well be enshrined if players linked to performance enhancing drugs are getting elected.
The Big Hurt, long a critic of players using PEDs, spoke out again during the Chicago White Sox’s annual fan convention on Saturday.
“They should be in now, as far as I’m concerned,” Thomas said. “They’ve let a few people in already we all know. It’s uncomfortable at this point. I’m sure this year’s going to be uncomfortable because we’ve got two great players going in, but they know. It’s no secret. If they didn’t do it, they would be stomping and kicking and in interviews saying ‘I didn’t do it.'”
Bonds and Clemens, whose careers were tainted by allegations of steroid use, were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in voting announced a week-and-a-half ago. But both received a majority of votes for the first time and could be in position to get elected in the next few years.
Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell did get in despite allegations of PED use along with Tim Raines, Thomas’ teammate with the White Sox.
Jose Canseco wrote in a 2005 book that he showed Rodriguez how to inject steroids. Bagwell has faced speculation that he used PEDs mainly because he went from hitting six home runs in two minor league seasons to 449 with Houston from 1991 to 2005.
Raines used cocaine. But while Thomas was thrilled to see him get elected, he doesn’t really think players who used performance enhancing drugs belong.
“Not happy at all,” he said to a round of applause from fans. “Some of these guys were great players. But they wouldn’t have been great players without drugs. … I don’t mind these guys doing what they want to do for their families and make their money. But don’t come calling to the Hall of Fame and say ‘I’m supposed to be in the Hall of Fame’ when you know you cheated.”
He said if those players are going to get in then Bonds, Clemens and Sammy Sosa should be enshrined, too — in a wing devoted to PED use. Otherwise, keep them all out.
Thomas said other Hall of Famers feel the same way.
“Trust me, there’s a lot of internal talk going on,” he said. “A lot of guys that I respect that are real, true Hall of Famers, all they have is their legacy. They didn’t make this kind of money. … They’re not happy about this at all.”
Thomas, a two-time MVP with the White Sox who hit 521 homers in a career that spanned from 1990 to 2008, was inducted in 2014. He spoke out against PED use during his career and lost friendships as a result, though he did acknowledge using amphetamines known as “greenies” for an energy boost early in his career.
“There are some days that you just don’t have energy to do anything,” Thomas said. “It’s seven days a week. It’s a grind. You’re flying all times of the night. We didn’t have the restrictions they got now. We used to get into cities at 5:30, 6 in the morning, we’d have a day game. When I first came up — they kind of cleaned up as I got older in the league — it was rough travel. It gave you a lot more energy.”
Thomas also said all-time hits leader and fellow Fox Sports analyst Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame as well as Fred McGriff. Rose has never appeared on the ballot because of a lifetime ban following an investigation into his gambling.
“I think in this society, everybody deserves a second chance,” he said. “If you’re gonna let the PED guys in, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”