Tag Archives: Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas and Mike Mussina elected to ULB Hall of Fame!

The Class of 2015 is here, and for the first time we will have two players entering the ULB Hall of Fame. Both players were considered one of the greatest at their respective positions throughout the early decade and a half of the ULB.

player_9363Mike Mussina (Vancouver Canucks,1996-2003; St. Paul Saints, 2004, Las Vegas Vipers, 2004; New Mexico Suns, 2007)

Elected with 82.3% of Votes, Second Year on Ballot (62.5%, 2010)

Mussina was a dominant force in the early history of the ULB, helping the Vancouver Canucks to reach the Union Cup in 1996 and 1997. Mussina totaled 144 wins in the ULB and added 89 in the MLB for a total of 233 wins in both leagues. He led the ULB in wins in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He amassed 3 Nolan Ryan Trophies (1996, 1998 and 2002) and was elected to the All Star Game 7 times in his 10 years in the ULB.

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Nolan Ryan Award 1996, 1998, 2002 3
All-Star 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 7
Pitcher of the Month 7/97, 9/97, 6/98, 4/00, 6/00, 5/02, 6/04 7


player_12902Frank Thomas (Boston Colonials, 1998-2004; Oklahoma City RedHawks, 2005; Phoenix Fire, 2008-2009)

Elected with 76.5% of Votes, First Year on Ballot

The Big Hurt came over to the ULB signing  a 5 year contract with the Colonials in the 1997-1998 offseason worth a then record $102,500,000 million. Gripes about him being overpaid were quickly quieted as he led the league in Home Runs and Runs Batted in his 1998 season. He would go on to hit 243 Home Runs with the Colonials and added 9 more in short seasons plagued by injuries with the Oklahoma City RedHawks and Phoenix Fire. Thomas added a Fielding Bible Award at 1B in 2000 and was elected to the All Star Team four times with the Colonials. Thomas would add another 248 Homers in his MLB career to reach a total of 500 home runs. In his combined ULB and MLB career he had a total of 2,233 hits, and was also an MVP in 1993 and 1994 in the MLB with the Chicago White Sox.

Former San Jose Jedi General Manager Mak Dolnick, now an executive assistant to White Sox Owner Joe Reinsdorf, commented on Thomas’ election.

“He’s the Big Hurt, what else needs to be said?”

Honors and Awards
Award Years Times Won
Fielding Bible Award Winners 2000 (1B) 1
All-Star 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 4

Of those not making the cut, Washington’s Larry Walker fell just short of getting ‘The Call’ in his 4th year of eligibility. He appeared on 58.8% of ballots this season. Walker has to be encouraged by the fact that his percentage climbed higher than in 2010, when he had 50% of the vote. Manno Wickey, the New Orleans Gold Sox poster boy for a decade, received 52.9% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, but will have to wait another year before hopefully receiving his call.

2011 ULB Hall of Fame Ballot Results
Pos Player Votes Vote%
SP Mike Mussina 14 82.3
1B Frank Thomas 13 76.5
LF Larry Walker 10 58.8
1B Manno Wickey 9 52.9
SP Roger Clemens 8 47.1
SP Pedro Luis Lazo 7 41.2
C Mike Piazza 7 41.2
DH Ryan Keith 5 29.4
SP Curt Schilling 5 29.4
SP Kevin Brown 4 23.5
C Tyler Houston 4 23.5
CF Andruw Jones 4 23.5
SS Enrique Aguilar 3 17.6
SP Ramiro Mendoza 3 17.6
RF Mark Merchant 3 17.6
SP Andy Pettitte 3 17.6
C Steve Coture 2 11.8
SP Tom Gordon 2 11.8
DH Mark McGwire 2 11.8
2B Roberto Alomar 1 5.9
LF Mark Anthony 1 5.9
LF Brian Apolskis 1 5.9
LF Darryl Brinkley 1 5.9
LF David Diaz 1 5.9
1B Darren Doucette 1 5.9
CF Christopher Garife 1 5.9
RP Daniel Ginder 1 5.9
3B Brian Heigle 1 5.9
SS Howard Hill 1 5.9
RF Tomoaki Kanemoto 1 5.9
SP Brett Lagerblade 1 5.9
C Ken Love 1 5.9
CF Vernon Maxwell 1 5.9
2B Warren Morris 1 5.9
3B Bill Mueller 1 5.9
SP Hideo Nomo 1 5.9
DH Curtis Parham 1 5.9
LF Roberto Singer 1 5.9
LF Dernell Stenson 1 5.9
CF Zack Watts 1 5.9

Ken Payne Nearing #500

Ken Payne is 3 Home Runs away from becoming the first member of the ULB's 500 HR Club.
Ken Payne is 3 Home Runs away from becoming the first member of the ULB’s 500 HR Club.

Ken ‘The Punisher’ Payne is now 3 home runs away from becoming the first player to hit 500 home runs in the ULB. While some players have become members of the 500 HR club while playing in both the ULB and the MLB, none have as of yet made it this far while playing solely for Union League Baseball. Payne, in fact, leads all players currently playing in the ULB in HR. He hit 261 of his dingers as a member of the Hollywood Stars from 1995-2000 before joining the Phoenix Fire in 2001, where he has hit 232 out of the park.

Frank Thomas is close to becoming a member of the MLB/ULB 500 HR club, sitting at 495. He recently hit  number 248 in the ULB, surpassing his  247 home runs in the MLB. The next closest members are Ken Griffey Jr, who is playing in the first season in the ULB. He has 458, though just a mere 17 in the ULB. Jim Thome is next on the list with 415 home runs to his name. All but 57 came as a member of a Union League Baseball ball club. His 358 home runs ranks 2nd in the history of Union League Baseball.  Wayne Edwards (341), Manno Wickey (317) and Ryan Keith (316) round out the top five. Salt Lake City’s Bobby Abreu should soon join the members of the 300 HR club, as he sits at 296 for his career.

The list shows that getting to 500 home runs in the ULB isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Wayne Edwards entered the league in 1997, while Thome, Wickey, Keith and Abreu have all been members since 1996. Payne was here from the beginning in 1995. His level of consistency has been astounding, in 7 of his 11 seasons thus far, he played in every game.

The Punisher’s 11 year assault on pitchers could very well end, as he has a option allowin him to test the free agent market after this season, should he choose not to settle for a mere 14.5 million next season. One can only hope that if he does choose to leave Phoenix for greener pastures, that he continues to play in the ULB.

Congress Opens Hearings on Steroid Use in Baseball

Saying that young people look up to professional athletes, members of a House committee investigating steroid use said today that Major League Baseball and Union League Baseball have failed in their responsibility to stop the use of performance enhancing drugs and was encouraging their use among young athletes.

New Orleans Gold Sox Catcher Tom Brady appeared before Congress today.
New Orleans Gold Sox Catcher Tom Brady appeared before Congress today.

“Kids aren’t just talking about their favorite teams’ chances in the pennant race,” said Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the committee. “They are talking about which pro players are on the juice.”

In opening remarks for hearings that are scheduled to feature several stars and former stars of baseball, including Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Tom Brady, and Jose Canseco, several lawmakers talked about the spreading use of steroids among young people. Several pointed to a report by the Centers for Disease Control that said 500,000 American teens take steroids, partly in an effort emulate their sports heroes.

Henry Waxman, a Democrat and the ranking minority member of the committee, said baseball wasn’t doing enough to curtail their use.

“We’re long past the point where we can count on both leagues to fix its own problems,” he said.

“I find their use distasteful in the extreme.”

Catcher Tom Brady responded to questions from the commitee. “I have never used any illegal substances during my professional career. I never have, and never will.” he said. “I find their use distasteful in the extreme.”

Two other players ordered to testify, Rafael Palmeiro and Frank Thomas, both issued statements denying steroid use.

“I have never used steroids. Period,” Mr. Palmeiro said. “I dont know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.”

Frank Thomas also issued a statement saying that he had not used steroids.

The committee also heard by noon today from parents of two young athletes who committed suicide after using steroids for several years. One father called the players “cowards” for being “afraid to step on the field without the aid of performance enhancing subtances.” Mr. Waxman said that if pro ball players are allowed to use steroids, it was no surprise that younger athletes want to use them too.

“There is an absolute correlation between the culture of steroids in high schools and the culture of steroids in major league clubhouses,” he said. “Kids get the message when it appears that it’s okay for professional athletes to use steroids. If the pros do it, college athletes will, too. And if it’s an edge in college, high school students will want the edge, too.

“There is a pyramid of steroid use in society and today our investigation starts where it should – with the owners and players at the top of that pyramid,” Mr. Waxman said.

As the spoke, Major League Baseball commissioner George W. Bush, who was to testify later, sat with his arms crossed and lips pursed.

Sitting near him was the Fay Vincent, Commissioner of Union League Baseball.

The hearing came a day after lawmakers chided Major League Baseball, Union League Baseball, and both players unions, accusing them of misleading Congress and the public about the new steroids testing policy. The members of Congress were reacting angrily to the disclosure of the policy’s details, which they contended were not as stringent or wide-ranging as baseball executives and union officials have said they were.

Mr. Davis and Mr. Waxman sent a 10-page letter to Mr. Selig and Mr. Vincent to express their disappointment and frustration with the new policy.

Both MLB and ULB instituted a steroids policy in 2002 and agreed last year to toughen it. The details of the new policy have not yet been finalized.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and another member of the committee, said: “Baseball’s policy needs to be one of zero tolerance and it needs to have teeth.”Other players expected to be called to testify are Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling and Frank Thomas.

Several aides to congressmen said that the call for hearings on steroid use came about partly because of the publication of Mr. Canseco’s book “Juiced,” in which he admitted using steroids and said Mr. McGwire and Mr. Palmeiro had also used them.

The players, who will appear in a panel format, will most likely be asked, under oath during the nationally televised hearings, whether they have used illegal steroids.

Immunity is not expected to be offered, and some of the players may invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Davis said the players will have “an opportunity today to either clear their name or take public responsibility for their action, and perhaps offer cautionary tales to our youth.”

The committee’s hearings will come in four different panel sessions. In the first one, they heard from United States Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, a major league player for 17 years and a member of Hall of Fame.

“Baseball needs to know we are watching,” he said. “They owe it to all of us to prove they are fixing this terrible problem. If not, we will have to do it for them.”

Like many of the other committee members who spoke, Mr. Bunning spoke of his love of the game, and of the place baseball has in American history and culture. Mr. Bunning talked about how steroid use had tainted the game for many people, and made them question the accomplishments of many great record-breaking plays.

“What is happening in baseball now is not natural and it is not right,” he said.

“The last thing I want for America’s pastime is to make it be the subject of a witch hunt,” he said. But, congress had to take action because the owners and players themselves were not, he said.

“It’s not their game,” he said. “It’s ours. They’re just enjoying the privilege of playing it for a short time. What I think many of the players do not understand is that many players came before them, and many will come after them. They all need to protect the integrity of the greatest game ever.”

The committee also heard from the parents of Rob Taylor, a baseball player from Southern California who used steroids and committed suicide.

“There’s no doubt in our minds that steriods killed our son,” Rob’s mother, Dr. Denise Garibaldi, told the committee. “In his mind he did what baseball heroes like Canseco had done.”

Dr. Garibaldi and her husband, Raymond Garibaldi, said that unbeknownst to them, their son had been encouraged to take drugs to bulk up by scouts and trainers and coaches since he was in high school. They noticed changes in his demeanor and his behavior, but he denied to them he used them, Dr. Garibaldi said.

“He told us, I don’t do drugs. I’m a ball player,” she said.

“Baseball is not life,” she said. “Baseball is a game.”

Another parent, Donald Hooton Sr., lashed out angrily at the players, saying that their use of steroids had been emulated by his son, Taylor, a high school football player who also committed suicide.

“You are role models.”

“You are cheaters, you are cowards,” he said. “You’re afraid to step on the field without the aid of performance enhancing subtances.”

He said the players who will testify “should be man enough to face the authorities, admit the truth and face the consequences,” instead of “hiding behind the skirts of your union.”

He also said, “I’m sick and tired of having you tell us you don’t want to be considered role models. You are role models.”

Original Article/Source

Trade Deadline Passes Quietly as Contenders Bear Down

The trade deadline passed quietly tonight as contenders opted to bear down rather than buy any of the more expensive rental pieces on the market. Teams will now utilize trade waivers to attempt to move pieces on the board up until September 1st. While several big pieces remained on the board, teams were likely unwilling to spend big bucks for two months of Frank Thomas or Alex Rodriguez. With a new GM just installed in St. Paul, teams will likely look to see what new GM Daren Landers will do with his new Saints ballclub. Boston will likely still be attempting to move expensive vets, even as they creep up the standings into Wild Card territory. And it’s anyone guess what teams like Jersey City and Portland will look to do.

Trade Deadline just over 2 Weeks Away

The ULB Trade Deadline is August 1st, meaning that the Trade deadline is now just 15 days away. Teams have until midnight on August 1st to complete any and all trades without first passing players through waivers. Here’s what we know right now:

  • The Phoenix Fire are known to be looking for another bat, and may possibly be in the market for a starting pitcher to further solidify their rotation for the playoff run.
  • The Boston Colonials are actively shopping ace pitcher Curt Schilling and DH Frank Thomas. They are obviously sellers at this point.
  • The Oklahoma City RedHawks are looking for Relief Pitching, with some interest in possibly adding a Starter. They have a lengthy list of hitters available on the trade market, with the biggest being outfielder Dernell Stenson and catcher Michael Barrett.
  • The Charlotte Eagles are shopping their top starter in Chan Ho Park, and one of their better bats in Jason Kendall.
  • The Jersey City Giants have moved several of the big pieces, could Alex Rodriguez be next? Eagles Owner Michael Jordan recently expressed interest in trading for A-Rod.
  • The Salt Lake City Bees are looking for an impact bat. They have a vast array of prospects available.
  • The San Jose Jedi were actively shopping centerfielder Mike Delchamp earlier this year, but it’s unknown if they are still willing to part with him. If they decide to be an active seller at this point, look for them to make waves.

Sternberger on Schilling: SHOW ME THE PROSPECTS

Boston Colonials general manager Michael Sternberger responded to questions on the continued availability of their ace pitcher, Curt Schilling today. Schilling, who is 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA and 39 strikeouts in his first five starts, is still on the trading block according to Sternberger.

“He is still available, but we are not just going to give him away.”

The Colonials have entered a rebuilding phase and have made it known that players like Schilling and 1B/DH Frank Thomas are available on the open market. Over the offseason, they have traded several pieces, including Bobby Abreu.

When Curt Schilling was asked for comment, he was elusive.

“I feel like i’m still pitching in top form, and that we can win here in Boston. I have no desire to pitch anywhere but here right now. I’m 100% focused on the field right now.”

Pioneers Not Done Dealing? Portland Seeks 1B

Could the Pioneers be looking at Underwood?

After shoring up their pitching staff with the addition of rookie Chris Jones, who will likely be their 4th or 5th starter, the Pioneers continue to seek a bat for their lineup. The Pioneers are reportedly unhappy with Aghali Rokki‘s stats at first, and will look to shore up the position with a trade. Could they be looking at Boston’s Frank Thomas? The Big Hurt is a free agent going into the upcoming offseason, and their are rumors he will be looking for a megadeal.

Another option might be Brooklyn’s Glenn Davis. Davis is hitting .287 with 7 HR, and while not the prototype 1B with power, Davis is an excellent option against righties. He could platoon with Rokki facing lefties. The price on Davis would likely be high, but Portland could have the prospects to entice him away from Brooklyn.

The Giants’ Ray Rice would also be a good fit in Portland, but one wonders if the animosity between GM’s Huff and Jefferies would prevent the pair from working together. One final option might be Curtis Underwood, who’s reportedly on the trading block. The Vipers 1B is hitting .222 with 14 HR, but a move away from Vegas would likely help his batting stats. Underwood’s stats at home read .175/.251/.350 and away he improves to .269/.337/.456.

With Thome Traded, Who could be Next?

Is the Big Hurt next?

With Jim Thome now officially a member of the Houston Apollos, and Barry Bonds now likely off the Trading Block, the question is who’s next? Today we’ll look at a few Players League teams that are out of the race, and look at who might attract attention over the next few weeks.

The Oklahoma City RedHawks continue to attempt to move OF Jim Edmonds, who is hitting .290 with 20 HR and 45 RBI. The RedHawks also also fielding calls for C Michael Barrett, who’s hitting .242 with 13 HR and is signed to a club friendly extenstion for the next 4 years.

In Las Vegas, the Vipers might be looking to move 1B Curtis Underwood, who’s hitting .214 with 13 HR as a total, but his road numbers are encouraging, as he improves to .260 with 8 HR outside the hitter’s nightmare that is American Airlines Field. The Vipers might also be open to moving SP David Wells. Wells is 5-7 with a 4.54 ERA in 111 IP. Some have said that Wells might be a good fit for a contender, as he’s kept his light hitting team in the game for the most part, and has not had much support from the Vipers offense.

Will the Boston Colonials keep 1B Frank Thomas? That’s a big question that hasn’t been answered yet. The Big Hurt is a Free Agent after this season, and Thomas will likely be looking to sign a big contract, as it will likely be his last. Thomas is 35, and is hitting .255 with 13 HR and 45 RBI for the Colonials. The Colonials could also help a team looking for bullpen help. Mike Munoz is pitching well for Boston, and is 2-0 with 2 saves and a 2.45 ERA in 45 innings out of the pen as the Colonials lefty setup man.

Over in Brooklyn, the Bridges could be looking to move Mark Anthony. Anthony is hitting .294 with 14 HR and by all accounts is having a career year for the Bridges. A team looking for a 4th outfielder might find room for Anthony on their bench, or possibly in their lineup. The Rocket, Roger Clemens could also be on the move. Clemens recently announced that this would be his final season before retiring, and he would no doubt like to go out with a bang. While Clemens isn’t the Ace he used to be, he has shown flashes of his former brillance. He’s 1-5 on the season, with a 4.92 ERA. Clemens fastball still clocks in at 92 MPH, but don’t expect him to be your #1 or #2 starter. Clemens is more suited to the back end of the rotation. His playoff numbers might entice a potential buyer, though.

Spotlight Players League Eastern Division: May 20th, 2001


Apollos Outfielder Barry Bonds has finally shown up offensively.
Apollos Outfielder Barry Bonds has finally shown up offensively.

Welcome to the first edition of Around the League. These articles will cronicle the going on and noteworthy events of the week in the ULB. So let’s just get started:

BOSTON – Dan Mozingo has a viral infection and has been told to stay home for the next two days. He should rejoin the team in time for the flight to Vancouver. Frank Thomas went 9 for 20 with 3 HR and has RBI’s in his last 8 games.

BROOKLYN – Glenn Davis is heating up, he hit .476 last week with 2 HR. Andy Pettitte was handed his first loss of the season against the Jedi as the Bridges were swept by the defending Champs.

COLUMBUS – The Crickets swept the hapless Vipers. Pedro Luis Lazo shut out the Crickets for 8 innings on Saturday before handing the ball over to rookie closer Glaser.

MILWAUKEE – The Brewers continue to show offensive life, as they now are tied for the league lead in team hits. (With the Pioneers) Pitching continues to be a glaring weakness for the expansion club.

HOUSTON – Barry Bonds is finally showing flashes of his old self. While he hit just .250 with 2 HR last week, he has 5 HR in his last 12 games. Rookie 1B Albert Pujols is now hitting .314 on the season, proving that the Apollos were right to give him the nod at 1B to start the season. Caleb Balbuena leads the team in Strike outs, Hits allowed, Run allowed, Home Runs allowed, and water coolers kicked.