Tagged with "american"
War Poets - Hot and Cold American Relationships Tags: war poets american relationships word life production new quality feature entertainment

War Poets are back with their newest EP – Hot and Cold: American Relationships, released by Rock The Cause Records, a non-profit record label based in their hometown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rock The Cause is dedicated to creating community involvement through concerts, workshops and music releases, and over the past 8 years Rock the Cause has helped to create thousands of new volunteers as well as financial support for organizations like Children’s Cancer Research Fund, MusiCares and others.

Hot and Cold: American Relationships, comes out on November 4, 2014 with a portion of proceeds going to work to find a cure for Cystic-Fibrosis.

“I really wanted to be on this label,” Says Rex Haberman, War Poets lead singer. “Their ethos and the difference they make for community is in perfect alignment with our mission as artists.”

War Poets draw on Americana, pop, and rock to achieve an aesthetic that’s refined but rootsy. The group has a unique band structure built around a core duo of Haberman as the primary singer-songwriter and guitarist, and bassist-vocalist, and contributing songwriter, Jenny Case as the musical director. The two keep an ongoing artistic dialogue with creative advisor Matt Kirkwold who also contributes songs to War Poets. Previous to War Poets, Haberman had recorded and released three albums, and Case has led her own band, and played in many cover bands. Currently, she is the executive director of She Rock She Rock Foundation.

When forming War Poets, Haberman made a socially conscious decision to build the band around a female singer-bassist. “I have a strong opinion about the status of women in music because I find it a really male-dominated world,” he reveals. When he expressed the idea of forging a female/male artistic alliance to creative advisor Matt Kirkwold (Haberman and Kirkwold have been friends and collaborators for 15 years) Kirkwold suggested Case. “We work together like we’re on a mission,” Haberman explains. “Jenny has high standards. She’s a perfectionist in the studio and really pushes the band’s performances. She’s super talented and highly professional.” The two also have complimentary voices with Case’s angelic and schooled vocals providing a sweet counterpoint to Haberman’s plaintive and impassioned vocal stylings. Rounding out the ranks as a full-band collective is a fluid mix of some of the Midwest’s finest musicians and songwriters.

The video for band’s first single, “Close Enough,” from War Poets’ debut full length, Dulce et Decorum Est, has wracked up a 250,000 views. It was a heartwarming statement on marriage equality dedicated to the memory of the historical NYC Stonewall uprisings, and the track became an anthem for many same-sex marriage supporters. War Poets’ music is played nationally on both AAA and college radio formats. In 2014 War Poets played Red Gorilla Music Festival during SXSW. The group has worked with such iconic producers as Grammy winner Kevin Bowe (Etta James, Jonny Lang) and five-time Grammy winner Joe Baldridge (Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson).

The group’s second album was boldly titled American Police State, evoking the red button topics shared within its irresistible pop-rock songs covered topics ranging from income inequality, Native American rights, and gun violence. “What is a gun really for? It’s for killing people,” Haberman affirms. “I realize I have strong opinions on gun violence, but we’re musicians, not politicians. We put our views out there by singing so people can think about this.”

Continuing the theme of exploring contemporary issues in our society, and their resulting struggles, "Hot and Cold: American Relationships" is the second in the "American" trilogy War Poets will release in 2014/15. These songs delve into the highs and lows of interpersonal relationships, whether it be about finding the right companion, talking beyond the point of understanding, or trusting the ones who are closest to you, because at the end of the day, they are all who's left.

Matthew Henson - Co-Discover of North Pole
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: matthew henson north american word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Matthew Henson was an African American explorer best known as the co-discoverer of the North Pole with Robert Edwin Peary in 1909.

Famed African-American explorer Matthew Henson was born in Charles County, Maryland, on August 8, 1866. Explorer Robert Edwin Peary hired Henson as his valet for expeditions. For over two decades, they explored the Arctic, and on April 6, 1909, Peary, Henson and the rest of their team made history, becoming the first people to reach the North Pole—or at least they claimed to have. Henson died in New York City on March 9, 1955.

American explorer Matthew Alexander Henson was born on August 8, 1866, in Charles County, Maryland. The son of two freeborn black sharecroppers, Henson lost his mother at an early age. When Henson was 4 years old, his father moved the family to Washington, D.C., in search for work opportunities. His father died there, leaving Henson and his siblings in the care of relatives.

Henson ran away from home at age 11, and was taken in by a woman who lived near his home. At age 12, he left to work as a cabin boy on a ship. Over the next six years and under the mentorship of Captain Childs, Henson learned literacy and navigation skills.

After Captain Childs died, Henson returned to Washington, D.C. and worked as a store clerk for a furrier. It was there that he met Robert Edwin Peary, an explorer and officer in the U.S. Navy Corps of Civil Engineers. On the recommendation of the store owner, Peary hired Henson as his valet for his travel expeditions.

Career as an Explorer

In 1891, Henson joined Peary on a Greenland expedition. While there, Henson embraced the local Eskimo culture, learning the language and the natives' Arctic survival skills. At the trip's end, in 1893, Henson remained the sole member of Peary's entourage—the rest of the team had abandoned the mission.

Their next trip to Greenland came in 1895, this time with a goal of charting the entire ice cap. The journey almost ended in tragedy, with Peary's team on the brink of starvation; members of the team managed to survive by eating all but one of their sled dogs. Over the next two years, the explorers returned to Greenland to collect three meteorites found during prior explorations, ultimately selling them to the American Museum of Natural History and using the proceeds to help fund their future expeditions.

Over the next several years, Peary and Henson would make multiple attempts to reach the North Pole. Their 1902 attempt proved tragic, with six Eskimo team members perishing due to a lack of food and supplies. They made more progress during their 1906 trip: Backed by President Theodore Roosevelt and armed with a then state-of-the-art vessel that had the ability to cut through ice, the team was able to sail within 174 miles of the North Pole. Melted ice blocking the sea path thwarted the mission’s completion.

The team's final attempt to reach the North Pole took place in 1908. Henson proved an invaluable team member, building sledges and training others on sled-handling. Of Henson, expedition member Donald Macmillan once noted, "With years of experience equal to that of Peary himself, he was indispensable."

The expedition continued into the following year (1909). While other team members turned back, Peary and the ever-loyal Henson trudged on. Peary knew that the mission's success depended on his trusty companion, stating at the time, "Henson must go all the way. I can't make it there without him." On April 6, 1909, Peary, Henson, four Eskimos and 40 dogs (the trip had begun with 24 men, 19 sledges and 133 dogs) finally reached the North Pole—or at least they claimed to have.

Source: Biography.com   

Dusty Rhodes is known as, "The American Dream" Tags: dusty rhodes american dream word life production feature blog wcw greatest wrestlers all time

Dusty Rhodes is without a doubt one of the most charismatic, entertaining, and famous wrestlers of all-time. During his 1970's and early-1980's prime, he was second only to Andre The Giant (and some would say Andre was second only to Dusty Rhodes) in terms of world wide fame and fan support. Dusty was probably the most loved wrestler in the sport from the mid-1970's throughout the 1980's, consistently drawing exceptionally large crowds wherever he wrestled, be it the N.W.A (and later, WCW), the WW(W)F, the A.W.A, Japan, or anywhere else the nomadic grappler roamed during his 20+ year career. There was something different about the fast talking, down-to-earth "son of a plumber" that endeared him to wrestling fans everywhere. His non-stop traveling between regional and national promotions helped him become one of the top 5 drawing cards in wrestling during his years in the ring.  Outside of the ring, he proved himself to be a unique and influential -- as well as controversial -- booker on several occassions in the NWA/WCW.  Dusty Rhodes truly was "The American Dream"...the regular guy who made it big. Really big.

But despite the overwhelming popularity Dusty enjoyed during his prime, the rotund grappler from Austin, TX. didn't always have such a loving relationship with the fans...

 He first gained notoriety in the sport as part of the legendary rulebreaking team The Texas Outlaws with his longtime friend/enemy/friend "Dirty" Dick Murdoch during the mid/late 1960's. The two rugged Texans were despised for their cheating tactics and disrespectful actions towards the fans. But like they say -- in wrestling, the more they hate you...the more they love you!

Brawling and (usually) cheating their way to several Tag Team titles, The Outlaws were certainly one of wrestling's most hated duos! But when, after several very successful years as a team, the two friends parted ways to pursue solo careers...Murdoch went on to achieve great success across the world. But Dusty...he would go on to even greater heights, and eventually became the most popular wrestler in the sport until Hulk Hogan.

In the years after The Outlaws, "Stardust" went on to become one of wrestling's most-traveled competitors. He often wrestled in 2, 3, even 4 different territorial promotions at once. For most of 1979, Dusty had top spot's in the Top 10 of the NWA, AWA, and WWWF simultaneously. It truly was a different time and climate in the sport, and "The American Dream" was on top of the world...

The flamboyant "American Dream" engaged in long, bitter, and bloody feuds (all of which invariably drew record attendance) with some of the biggest names ever...Harley Race, Superstar Graham, The Funk Family, Dick The Bruiser and The Crusher, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Nick Bockwinkle, Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, Ric Flair and (numerous incarnations of) The Four Horsemen, Dick Slater, Kevin Sullivan, Bill Watts, Ted Dibiase, Randy Savage, and many, many more.

An N.W.A. North American (Hawaii) title, N.W.A. North American (Mid South) title, N.W.A. Mid South U.S. Tag Team title (w/Andre), 10 Florida Heavyweight championships, 2 Florida Tv titles, 4 Florida Tag Team titles, 1 Georgia Heavyweight title, 7 Southern Heavyweight titles, 1 Mid Atlantic TV title, 1 N.W.A. National Heavyweight title, 2 NWA/WCW World 6-Man Tag Team titles, 1 NWA/WCW U.S. Heavyweight title, and 3 NWA/WCW World TV titles were among the dozens of championships he won throughout his career. But Dusty always craved "the Big One"... the N.W.A. World Heavyweight Championship. After years of "missing it by that much" do to cheating titleholders and bad luck, Dusty's childhood dream would finally come true. Three different times...

Dusty's first N.W.A. World Title reign was a true heartbreaker. After 3 years of wrestling Harley Race all across the country and losing each time do to count out's, DQ's, or Race's cheating, on August 21, 1979 Dusty Rhodes finally defeated Race and became World Champion. The victory sent shockwaves through the wrestling world...but Dusty's reign was not to be...

 After making 3 successful N.W.A. title defenses (a rematch with Race, and defenses against Terry Funk and Don Muraco) Dusty was set to engage in another rematch with former champion Harley Race on August 26, 1979. But before the match could start, a crazed Terry Funk stormed the ring and, in one of his most famous "sneak attacks" ever, Funk broke Dusty's arm with a knee from the top rope. A disgusted Race nailed Funk with a right to the jaw and even offered to reschedule the match. Dusty refused, saying he didn't want to disappoint the fans. But disappointed they were...Rhodes went on to lose the NWA belt back to Race that night, ending Dusty's 1st World title reign after just 5 days...

Dusty would bounce back, though, and 2 years later he again defeated Race for the NWA World title on June 21, 1981 in Atlanta, GA. Dusty defended the title 4 to 5 nights per week during his 2nd reign, and it was that heavy schedule that would help end his it after just 4 months.

 After being injured by The Assassins the night before, Dusty entered a Kansas City ring on September 17, 1981 to face the young and talented "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Flair overwhelmed the injured champion, and defeated Rhodes for the title. Rhodes would even the score a few years later, though, defeating Flair on July 25, 1986 for the NWA championship. But Flair, and the constant interference of the Four Horsemen, would prove to be too much for Dusty, and Flair regained his title on August 7, 1986.

 After a prestigious career in the NWA/WCW, Dusty left his "home" of so many years, and after dabbling in the Florida independent scene for a short time, he ended up in the World Wrestling Federation where, despite the embarrassing "Plumber Man", "Pizza Man", and "Potty Man" video segments he was forced to film upon entering the WWF, he was again extremely popular with the fans. The ovations he received when entering the ring were nearly as loud, if not louder, than those usually reserved by the fans for Hulk Hogan. No matter where he went, fans loved this blue-collar hero, and Dusty became one of the WWF's biggest attractions.

Dusty introduced his debuting son Dustin to WWF fans (although he had made his true wrestling debut in Dusty's Florida-based PWF promotion) and the two formed a team to fight "The Million Dollar Man"...but they soon left the WWF to return "home" to WCW.  Dustin has gone on to carve his own niche' as a champion and personality in the sport... while Dusty retired (more or less) from the ring after his last WWF stint and returned to WCW, where he worked behind the scenes.  Whether as the controversial head booker, a high-profile announcer, or the more ambiguous "creative consultant," Rhodes always left his mark on the promotion.  Fittingly, Rhodes was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame on May 25, 1995 after nearly 30 years in the wrestling business.

After another nearly 10-year run with WCW, Dusty eventually parted ways with his longtime employer in the fall of `99.  Not long afterward, he made big waves once again by making a shocking appearance in E.C.W.  It seems that, as always, Dusty is a lot more resiliant (and smarter) than people give him credit for.  The Ring Chronicle proudly inducts "The American Dream", the "working man's champion," pro wrestling legend and legitimate creative force, Dusty Rhodes, into T.R.C.'s Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Source: Mid-South Wrestling

 

Daryl Hall and John Oates are the NUMBER-ONE SELLING DUO in music history! Tags: hall oates duo numer one american history ultimate rock classic feature blor

Starting out as two devoted disciples of earlier soul greats, Daryl Hall & John Oates are soul survivors in their own right. They have become such musical influences on some of today’s popular artists that the September 2006 cover of Spin Magazine’s headline read: “Why Hall and Oates are the New Velvet Underground.” Their artistic fan base includes Rob Thomas, John Mayer, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and MTV’s newest hipsters Gym Class Heroes who dubbed their tour “Daryl Hall for President Tour 2007.” One of the most sampled artists today, their impact can be heard everywhere from boy band harmonies, to neo-soul to rap-rock fusion.

Signed to Atlantic by Ahmet Ertegan in the 1970’s, Daryl Hall & John Oates have sold more albums than any other duo in music history. Their 1973 debut album, Abandoned Luncheonette, produced by Arif Mardin, yielded the Top 10 single, “She’s Gone,” which also went to #1 on the R&B charts when it was covered by Taveras. The duo recorded one more album with Atlantic, War Babies, (produced by Todd Rundgren) before they were dropped and promptly signed to RCA. Their tenure at RCA would catapult the duo to international superstardom. 

From the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, the duo would score six #1 singles, including “Rich Girl” (also #1 R&B), “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (also #1 R&B), “Maneater” and “Out of Touch” from their six consecutive multi-platinum albums—’76’s Bigger Than Both of Us, ’80’s Voices, ’81’s Private Eyes, ‘82’s H2O, ‘83’s Rock N Soul, Part I and ‘84’s Big Bam Boom. The era would also produce an additional 5 Top 10 singles, “Sara Smile,” “One on One,” “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So” and “Method of Modern Love.”

Daryl also wrote the H&O single "Everytime You Go Away," which singer Paul Young scored a number-one hit with a cover of the song in 1985.

That same year, Daryl and John, participated in the historic “We Are the World” session as well as closing the Live Aid show in Philadelphia.

By 1987, the R.I.A.A. recognized Daryl Hall and John Oates as the NUMBER-ONE SELLING DUO in music history, a record they still hold today.

On May 20, 2008, the duo was honored with the Icon Award during BMI’s 56th annual Pop Awards. The award has previously gone to the Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Paul Simon, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson, James Brown, Ray Davies, Carlos Santana and Dolly Parton.

Daryl Hall’s latest project is a multi-award-winning monthly web series (and nationally syndicated TV show), Live from Daryl’s House (www.livefromdarylshouse.com). “It was a light bulb moment,” he says of the show’s genesis. “I’ve had this idea about just sitting on the porch or in my living room, playing music with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.”

The past episodes of Live From Daryl’s House have featured a mix of well-known performers like Booker T and the MGs, Blind Boys of Alabama, Rob Thomas, Train, Cee Lo Green, Smokey Robinson, The Doors’ Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek, Toots Hibbert, Nick Lowe, K.T. Tunstall, Todd Rundgren, Keb Mo, Dave Stewart, Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump along with newcomers such as Nikki Jean, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Mayer Hawthorne, Eric Hutchinson, Chromeo, Matt Nathanson, Parachute, Plain White T’s, Allen Stone, soul diva Sharon Jones, Diane Birch, L.A. neo-R&B party band Fitz & the Tantrums, hot new alternative band Neon Trees and veteran alternative mainstays Guster.

In April of 2011, John Oates released his solo album, Mississippi Mile on Elektra Records.  People Magazine gave the album 3 out of 4 stars.  “ has the opportunity to reach across the board – and that’s a winning formula.” – Nashville Lifestyles

Daryl released his solo album, Laughing Down Crying, on Verve Records on September 27th,  2011.  The album has received a lot of critical acclaim from the Huffington Post, Spinner and Pop Matters, who said: “With the songs that make up this fine collection of American soul and pop music, Hall proves that with the pen and at the mic, his voice is more than capable of reaching the depths and heights of emotional truth.”

Most recently as a duo, Daryl Hall & John Oates released their first box set, Do What You Want, Be What You Are: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates.  The box set marks the first comprehensive multi-CD, multi-label deluxe box set compilation ever assembled from their entire career’s work, four CDs containing 74 tracks (16 of them previously unreleased).

With the fortieth anniversary of their first album, Whole Oats, 2012 finds Daryl Hall and John Oates very much at the height of their powers making their own kind of soul, with a new generation of musicians recognizing not only their historic track record of success, but also their continuing influence and achievements.

Source: Official Website: http://www.hallandoates.com/about.html

“The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas Tags: big hurt frank thomas baseball player african american word life production sports entertainment

Thanks to a cruel twist of fate, Frank Thomas may join that elite club of baseball immortals who never got to play for a championship. When his Chicago White Sox won it all in 2005, the Big Hurt was too hurt to take the field—and management left him off the postseason roster. Set adrift in the free agent waters, Frank landed in the green and gold of Oakland, where he is redefining the meaning of Money Ball. This is his story…

GROWING UP

Frank Edward Thomas was born May 27, 1968 in Columbus, Georgia to Charlie Mae and Frank Thomas Sr. (Click here for today's sports birthdays.) He was the second of three children. Frank’s dad had a job with the city and his mom worked in a clothing factory. Frank was large and energetic. He was a sensitive kid who seemed naturally polite and had a winning smile.

The Thomas family was a close-knit group. Frank’s best friend was his younger sister, Pamela. They went everywhere and did everything together as kids. Pamela was diagnosed with leukemia and died when Frank was 10. He never really got over this loss.

After Pamela’s death, Frank turned to his older brother, Michael. Sometimes Michael’s friends teased his good-natured sibling. He didn’t mind until a few tried to push him around. By the time they hit the ground, word was out—don’t mess with Big Frank.

Frank Sr. began developing his son’s skills in football and basketball when he was young, channeling his intelligence and natural aggressiveness in ways that would enhance his performance. As a result, Frank was not only bigger and faster than kids he faced on the playing field—he was better.

Frank dominated his youth league opponents in baseball and football, and was allowed to play up against older boys—mostly for the safety of the younger boys. His coordination and dexterity later made him a fine basketball player. By the time he enrolled in Columbus High School, everyone in Columbus knew who Frank was, and expected he would make millions as a professional athlete. The question was, in which sport?

Frank’s favorite athletes were Dave Winfield and Dave Parker. Both were baseball All-Stars who would probably have found fame in the NFL or NBA. He liked the way they intimidated opponents on the diamond. So after making the Columbus varsity football and basketball teams as a freshman, Frank was astonished when baseball coach Bobby Howard relegated him to the JV. After Howard explained to Frank that he was just too young, the frosh spent a year stewing and waiting for spring tryouts. When his got his chance, he hit three balls onto the roof of the building that stood more than 100 feet past the outfield fence. Frank was on the team.

Howard worked his super soph harder than anyone else on the team. If he made a mental error, the coach ordered him to run laps. When Frank complained, Howard told him that physical talent alone would not get him to the big leagues—he needed to master the game between his own ears. Frank hit over .400 as a sophomore and led the Blue Devils to the state championship.

Frank’s baseball exploits paled in comparison to his prowess on the football field. He was a ferocious tackler on defense and perhaps the best prep tight end in the country. He also handled the team’s kicking duties. When Auburn offered him a scholarship, he accepted—with the understanding that he would almost certainly choose baseball if he were drafted in a high round the following June.

Unfortunately, this was not communicated effectively to the big league teams that scouted Frank in the spring of 1986. With a scrapbook full of football headlines and a scholarship in his pocket, it was assumed Frank was NFL-bound. Not a single team wasted a draft pick on him. Frank could not believe it!

So it was off to Auburn, where he won the job as the Tigers’ back-up tight end. Frank’s ability to analyze defenses after the snap and deliver crushing blocks for Auburn’s runners made head coach Pat Dye fantasize about what he would do the next three years.

Frank’s mind was still on baseball, however. He asked coach Hal Baird for a tryout, and the Auburn skipper agreed to give him a look in the batting cage. After one swing, Baird all but decided to make Frank his cleanup hitter. The ball came off his bat with such force that it even surprised the freshman slugger. The weight training he had done for football had doubled his power.

Frank hit .359 with a school-record 21 homers in his first season. He was named All-SEC and played for Team USA in the 1987 Pan Am Games that summer. He had to miss the gold medal game, however, because football practice was beginning. Frank went into his soph season with mixed feelings about his career on the gridiron. Then, after injuring his knee in a scrimmage, he decided to give up the sport completely.

ON THE RISE

Frank made All-SEC in his second baseball campaign in 1988, but teams were starting to pitch around him. As a result, he hit only nine homers, and to his great disappointment, he was left off the Olympic Team. He took out his fury on the Cape Cod Summer League. The following spring, Frank had a monster year for Auburn and was named SEC MVP.

Dave Winfield, 1977 Hostess

After the season, Frank was selected by the White Sox with the seventh pick in the draft. He was the third college player taken, after LSU’s Ben McDonald and Donald Harris of Texas Tech. In what was a much-heralded group of first-rounders, only Frank, Chuck Knoblauch, Mo Vaughn and Cal Eldred ever found success at the big-league level. Frank spent his first season as a pro with two Florida teams in the Chicago system, collecting 71 hits and 42 walks in 72 games.

Frank was promoted to the Birmingham Barons of the Class-AA Southern League in 1990. In 109 games, he reached base 231 times, with a.323 average and .581 slugging mark. The White Sox kept waiting for him to cool off, but it never happened. Though Chicago was in the midst of a pennant race, it was obvious that a promotion to Triple-A ball would be a waste of Frank's time and talent. Within a few games of the powerhouse Oakland A’s in the AL West and with light-hitting Carlos Martinez holding down first base, the Sox chose to let the Frank Thomas Era begin. And on August 2, it did.

While Chicago ultimately finished nine games behind Oakland, there was plenty to celebrate at Comiskey Park in the final two months. Frank tattooed the ball at a .330 clip, demonstrating incredible patience and maturity and occasional power with 21 extra-base hits and a team-high .529 slugging mark.

For the 1991 campaign, t he White Sox were managed by Jeff Torborg, and had a nucleus of good young players, including Robin Ventura, Lance Johnson, Sammy Sosa, Ozzie Guillen, Jack McDowell, Bobby Thigpen and Alex Fernandez. Veterans Carlton Fisk, Tim Raines and Charlie Hough provided on-field leadership. Frank quickly emerged from this group as the team’s star. He split time at first base and DH with Dan Pasqua and hit .318 with 32 homers and 109 RBIs as Chicago finished second to the worst-to-first Minnesota Twins. Frank led the AL with 138 walks—an unheard of accomplishment for a player in his first full year—and for a brief moment looked as if he had a shot at the Triple Crown.

It was after one of his '91 home runs that announcer Ken Harrelson shouted, “Frank put a big hurt on that ball.” That day one of baseball’s great all-time nicknames was born.

Frank was the talk of baseball as he entered the 1992 season. With teams pitching him more carefully, his power numbers dipped slightly, but his average rose to .323 and he tied for the league lead with 46 doubles. Under new manager Gene Lamont, the Sox finished 10 games over .500 but 10 games behind the A’s.

Frank Thomas, 1990 Topps Auburn

Frank found a whole new gear in 1993, clubbing 41 homers and knocking in 128 runs. He batted .317 despite getting almost nothing to hit, and was ultimately rewarded for his efforts with the AL MVP award.

Due to all the distractions in Chicago, the team needed a big season from the Big Hurt. Bo Jackson, trying to return from a hip replacement, could not be counted on to play every day. Fisk finally ran out of gas and was forced to retire. George Bell, acquired for budding superstar Sammy Sosa, was felled by a balky knee. Frank and 22-game winner McDowell kept the Sox afloat all season, and with help from new closer Roberto Hernandez, and Chicago edged the Texas Rangers in September to win the division.

The White Sox hosted the defending champion Toronto Blue Jays in the first two games of the ALCS and dropped both. The team rebounded to take two of three in Toronto, but then Dave Stewart stymied Chicago in Game Six to win the pennant. Frank batted .353 in the series with a homer and three RBIs. Toronto pitchers wanted no part of him, walking Frank a record 10 tines. As he maintained for many years after, he would have traded his MVP trophy for a chance to play the World Series.

MAKING HIS MARK

That was particularly apparent the following season, when Frank went on a rampage that saw him hit 32 home runs by the All-Star break and boost the White Sox to the top of the new AL Central Division. The season ended on August 11, however, when the owners and players could not come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Frank was on fire from the beginning of the year to its abrupt end. He led the AL with a ridiculous .729 slugging average, 109 walks and 106 runs to go with 38 homers, 101 RBIs and a .353 average. Although he did not lead the league in any of the Triple Crown categories, Frank would have had a very good chance of being the first to win it since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Frank’s next two years were nearly as good. He launched 40 home runs in 1995 and batted .349 in 1996. He reached triple-digits in runs, RBIs and walks, and played every game of the ’96 campaign at first base while Harold Baines served as Chicago's DH.

Unfortunately, the White Sox bottomed out in ’95. They won just 68 games and the fall from grace cost Lamont his job. The long-suffering Cleveland Indians, meanwhile, took the division with 100 wins. The skies brightened for Chicago somewhat in ’96, as the team went 85-77 behind Frank’s great year. But the Tribe had established its dominance and the Sox would not see another division title until the next century.

The 1997 season was another great one for Frank, but an incredibly frustrating one for Sox fans. The Big Hurt led the league with a .347 average and .456 on-base percentage, and kept the team in a three-way battle with Cleveland and Milwaukee for the lead in a weak Central Division. On the eve of the trade deadline, GM Ron Schueler decided to start rebuilding despite the fact his club trailed the Indians by just three games. Starters Wilson Alvarez and Danny Darwin and closer Roberto Hernandez were traded to the San Francisco Giants for infield prospect Mike Caruso and young hurlers Bobby Howry and Keith Foulke. The White Sox finished six wins short of the Tribe, which went on to win the pennant. The deal weny down in Sox history as the “White Flag” trade.

Frank was ready to wave the white flag after the 1998 campaign. Relegated to full-time DH-ing duties with the forgettable duo of Wil Cordero and Greg Norton holding down first base, he saw his average plummet to .265. Distracted by business and marital problems early in the season, he dug himself a hole and then pressed too hard to climb out. He hit poorly in the clutch all year and had a stunning lack of success against lefties. After a while, Frank noticed he wasn’t getting the benefit on borderline pitches. Instead of sucking it up, he argued with the umps—which only worsened matters—and then called them out to the press, making a bad situation disastrous.

Apparently unnerved, Frank began swinging at pitches out of the zone and looking at pitches right down the middle. It did not take long for opposing hurlers to pick up on this shift in Frank’s approach, and instead of working ahead of pitchers, he found himself facing a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts. He finished with 29 homers and 109 RBIs, but there was nothing good about the season.

Frank Thomas, 1993 Upper Deck

It didn’t seem possible to go anywhere but up for Frank. His numbers, however, continued to plummet in 1999. He argued with manager Jerry Manuel about playing with a chronically sore left ankle, and once again let off-field distractions affect his on-field performance. Frank’s frustrating year ended with September ankle surgery. His power numbers were atrocious—15 homers in 486 at-bats—and although he raised his average back into .300 territory, he was no longer the feared hitter he once was.

Fortunately for the White Sox—who owed Frank more than $60 million—the 2000 season found him back in the swing of things. He opened up his stance (a la Andres Galarraga) and began blistering the ball again, clubbing 43 homers and knocking in a career-high 143 runs. Frank raised his average to .325 and his slugging average to .625.

The Chicago offense was electric with Frank back on the warpath. Paul Konerko, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee, ray Durham and Jose Valentin combined for 119 homers and the White Sox led the AL with 978 runs scored. The team finished with 95 victories—tied with the Atlanta Braves and and St. Louis Cardinals for the most in baseball.

The White Sox faced the Wild Card Mariners in the playoffs and Seattle won a battle of the bullpens. In the disappointing series loss, Chicago failed to score a single run off the M's relievers and Foulke couldn't stop the Mariners twice with the game on the line. Frank went hitless in the three-game sweep.

The frustration of the '00 postseason ruined an otherwise outstanding year for Frank. But that was nothing compared to his nightmarish 2001 season. Frank Sr. passed away, his marriage ended in an acrimonious divorce, and he tore his right triceps in April and missed 141 games. The year was a washout.

Frank returned to play a mostly injury-free season in 2002, but the team had too many holes to compete for the division crown, which went to the surprising Twins. The heart of the lineup was solid as always, with Konerko, Valentin, Ordonez and Lee supplying the power along with Frank, who belted 28 homers. But the young pitching staff—led by Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland—lacked consistency and the team hovered around .500 all year. When table-setters Durham and Kenny Lofton were dealt to the Giants and A’s, respectively, it marked the end of another disappointing season.

The low point came when Konerko, who was supplanting Frank as a team leader, publicly chewed him out for dodging a batting practice session. That winter, a “diminished skills” clause in Frank’s contract gave the team an opening to void his contract. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf went against the advice of his staff and chose to renegotiate a still-generous deal with Frank, paying him more than $6 million a year. The sensitive slugger did not see it this way, however. He believed the team was ungrateful.

Frank played the 2003 season in a funk. He locked horns with Manuel in the spring and never felt like he was a core member of the White Sox, despite the fact he helped them stay on the heels of the Division-winning Twins throughout the summer. Frank took it out on enemy pitchers, belting 42 homers and knocking in 105 runs. Chicago finished with 86 wins, four shy of the Central crown..

Frank Thomas

(and Jerry Manuel),

2002 Upper Deck Vintage

In 2004, Manuel was replaced by Frank’s old teammate, Ozzie Guillen. He viewed the regime change as a positive development. But Guillen was a man who wanted to assert his dominance, and after Frank suffered another left ankle injury and Ordonez hurt his knee, Guillen decided to build a new team around speed and defense. This, of course, meant a diminished role for Frank. Before the injury, which limited him to just 74 games, he was actually enjoying himself. He was hitting the ball hard and often, and sensed that the team was finally coming together. Now his future was in doubt.

The picture clouded even more in 2005. Frank was the team’s full-time DH, and hit for decent power, but a broken ankle ended his season—and likely his career with the White Sox—in July. He then watched with a mixture of frustration and joy as his team won the pennant and World Series behind the pitching, speed and defense of the new Go-Go Sox. When the champagne corks popped, however, Frank’s smile was as big as it had ever been. During the wild clubhouse celebration, he happily doused his teammates with bubbly. Guillen, who had chastised Frank when he first took over the team, praised him for his team spirit after the Fall Classic.

As expected, after the season, the team exercised a $3 million buyout of Frank’s contract, making him a free agent for the first time in his career. At the winter meetings, he ran into A’s GO Billy Beane. Like most in baseball, Beane had grave doubts that Frank could recover from his twice-broken ankle. But Frank looked great and was practically bubbling over with enthusiasm when they spoke about the upcoming season.

Beane went with his gut and offered Frank a $500,000 deal, with a chance to bump that up to $3 million with incentives. Frank signed with Oakland, dropped weight, rehabbed his left leg, and gave the club a solid righthanded presence in a lineup that had been one of baseball’s best over the second half of '05. Fellow free agent Milton Bradley joined him in the Oakland batting order, and both men competed like they had something to prove as the A’s went through a typically sluggish first half.

Frank had a brief stint on the DL with a sore right leg in June, but returned to take the team lead in home runs as the A’s mounted one of their patented post All-Star break runs. He was also taking out infielders on DPs and playing the kind of spirited baseball that had his Oakland teammates feeling like they had a guy who could lead them into the post-season. As the possibility of a playoff showdown between the A’s and Sox became more of a possibility, Frank swung the stick with even more gusto.

With a World Series ring, two MVPs and his Hall of Fame enshrinement all but assured, Frank has little to accomplish and almost nothing to prove. Best of all, he can finally get back to playing baseball for the right reason—for the sheer joy of it.

FRANK THE PLAYER

Ozzie Guillen, 1992 Donruss

Although Frank is on the wrong side of his prime, he can still turn on a pitch and send it screaming into the stands. A master at working the count, he now uses this skill to help him guess fastball, and when he guesses right he is a dangerous pull hitter.

Never a graceful fielder, Frank is regarded as a fulltime DH. In fact, he has been reluctant to play first base when called upon to do so. With the A’s, this is not an issue; in Chicago, it was a point of contention between him and manager Manuel, as well as with GO Ken Williams.

Frank can still motor on the basepaths, and is one of the most terrifying runners in the game when he gets up to full steam. He outweighs many of the keystone players by 100 pounds, so he is given a wide berth at all times.

Frank’s 2006 season proves what he can accomplish as a hitter when healthy, despite his diminishing skills. In his prime, he was one of the most consistent power hitters in history. Now, pushing 40—and closing in on 500 career homers—he still is capable of putting up All-Star caliber numbers when he is 100 percent.

Source: Jockbio http://www.jockbio.com/Bios/Frank/Frank_bio.html

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