Frank Thomas, two-time American League Most Valuable Player as a member of the Chicago White Sox, will be the featured speaker at University of St. Francis’ 37th Annual Brown & Gold Night to be held Monday, November 18, at the Pat Sullivan Center in Joliet.
Thomas is one of only four players in MLB history who retired with a career batting average of at least .300, and had 1,500 or more RBIs, 1,600 or more walks, 1,400 or more runs, and 500 or more home runs. The other three were Hall of Famers Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Thomas is the only right-handed hitter among that group.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ga., Thomas was a baseball and football standout at Columbus High School. His team won the state championship in baseball during his sophomore year, and, as a senior, he was named all-state in football as a tight end before batting .440 in baseball.
Thomas accepted a scholarship to play football at Auburn University, where he also played for the Tigers’ baseball team. He went on to earn All-America honors as a freshman and junior on the diamond, and during his three years with the Tigers he hit a school-record 49 home runs.
The Chicago White Sox selected Thomas in the first round of the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft. He spent his first 16 years with the White Sox and became one of only twelve players in MLB history to win back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards as he was named American League MVP in 1993 and 1994.
Thomas is also just one of two players in major league history to have seven consecutive seasons (1991-97) with a .300 or better batting average together with at least 100 walks, 100 runs scored, 100 runs batted in and 20 home runs. The only other player to accomplish that feat is Albert Pujols. Thomas’ accomplishment is even more remarkable considering that he played only 113 games in the 1994 strike-shortened season.
Thomas joins an impressive list of Chicago professional sports greats to have served as the featured speaker at the Brown & Gold event. That list includes Chicago Bears’ Super Bowl XX quarterback Jim McMahon (2012), Chicago Blackhawks’ Denis Savard (2011), Chicago Cubs’ Fergie Jenkins (2008), and Chicago Bears’ Mike Ditka (1982, 2007) and Dick Butkus (1980).
Other notable speakers at past Brown & Gold events were longtime Marquette University basketball coach and network television analyst Al McGuire (1977, 1987), basketball coaching legend John Wooden (1978), two-time Super Bowl MVP Bart Starr (1994), former DePaul coaching legend Ray Meyer (1979), college baseball’s all-time winningest coach and USF’s own Gordie Gillespie (1996), and Olympic wrestler and coach Dan Gable (2002).
The annual fundraiser begins with a cash bar at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the program at 8p.m. The event will also include a silent auction. Tickets priced at $50 per person and reserved tables for $500 can be purchased by contacting the USF athletics department at 815-740-3464 or visiting www.stfrancis.edu/brownandgold. Corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available.