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For fans of age in the 1990s, seeing Frank Thomas wearing the green-and-gold was a shocker.
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Today in White Sox History: January 31

Bo Knows California — and Big Frank, too

1909

White Sox catcher Billy Sullivan secured a patent on the first chest protector. It contained a wind pad with compressed air and became the forerunner of the modern catcher’s chest protector. Sullivan was the White Sox catcher from 1901-14. Sullivan gets the patent one day before his 34th birthday.


1956

Buck Weaver died in Chicago, at the age of 65. He was one of eight members of the Black Sox to be banned from baseball for life, despite taking no money from gamblers. Until his death, Weaver maintained his innocence — and the record shows he hit .324 with 11 hits and was perfect in the field in the 1919 World Series loss to Cincinnati. Commissioner Landis ruled that Weaver should be banished from the game based merely on his knowledge of the fix; in that case, manager Kid Gleason, owner Charles Comiskey and scores of players from other clubs, previous and since, should have been kicked out of baseball.


1994

Bo Jackson left the White Sox, signing for $1 million with the California Angels.

Jackson staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in sports history by fighting through hip replacement surgery to return to the field in 1993 — dramatically hitting a pinch-hit home run in his first at-back in a White Sox uniform.

However, things soured a bit in the stretch run, as Jackson struggled through a terrible August and went 0-for-10 with three walks in the ALCS vs. Toronto. Jackson and George Bell were vocal about preferential treatment being given Dan Pasqua and were very critical of manager Gene Lamont.

The White Sox made a halfhearted attempt to re-sign Bo after the season, but ultimately let him go. Jackson returned to the White Sox as a team ambassador in 2014, and remains a White Sox fixture.


2003

The U.S. Cellular Company and the White Sox signed an agreement selling the naming rights to Comiskey Park. The deal was worth $68 million over 23 years. The money received by the club contained the stipulation that it could only be used on renovations and upgrades for the stadium — not, say, for signing free agents. As a result of said renovations, U.S. Cellular Field became one of the finest-looking stadiums in baseball.

Once U.S. Cellular no longer did any business in the Chicago area, the Guaranteed Rate company secured naming rights in November 2016.


2006

White Sox legend Frank Thomas officially ended his career in Chicago, signing with the Oakland A’s.

The parting, of course, was not mutual, as Thomas had wished to remain in Chicago after winning a ring with the White Sox for the first time in his 16 years with the club. But injuries, squabbling with GM Ken Williams, and a trade for DH Jim Thome in November sealed Big Hurt’s fate.

Far from washed up, Thomas hit 39 homers and drove in 114 for a division-winning Oakland team that made it to the ALCS. Frank finished fourth in AL MVP voting, the sixth-best finish of his career.

Thomas would hit the final 73 homers of his career away from the White Sox, including home run No. 500 in 2007 for Toronto.


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