I feel like I’m a magnet for celebrity sightings, especially when I go to Las Vegas. I’ve rolled craps with MMA star Ryan Bader and singer/manager René Angélil (better known as Celine Dion’s husband — click here for the story), while also crossing paths with James Brown, Vince Vaughn, Floyd Mayweather and many others. While Vegas never disappoints (from a celebrity standpoint at least), Chicago usually leads to some celebrity sightings as well.
I’ve been to the Windy City five times over the last year and a half. Every time I go there; I see a celebrity or two — or even more. On my last trip to Chi-Town in June, we ran into baseball stars galore. My brother and dad spotted Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett and broadcaster Joe Buck at the Tavern On Rush (a haven for celebrity sightings), and then my brother and I bumped into former Major Leaguer/current ESPN baseball analyst Chris Singleton on the street. From there I met legendary closer Lee Smith before a Chicago Cubs game, and then came the best encounter of all…
While we were in Chicago we saw one game at Wrigley Field between the Red Sox and Cubs, and three games at U.S. Cellular Field between the Cubs and White Sox. Before the second game of the crosstown rivalry, my dad, brother, and I stopped into Bacardi at the Park for a few drinks. We’d all heard that former White Sox star Frank Thomas was making his own beer (no joke), and they were selling some there. So, all three of us grabbed a Big Hurt Beer (“The Big Hurt” is Thomas’ nickname) to try it out. After a few sips, we heard an announcement that Frank Thomas was actually in the building.
My brother and I decided to check out the situation. The line to meet him wasn’t very long, so we jumped into the fray. No more than three minutes later we were shaking hands with Frank Thomas himself. The dude was massive! He was listed as 6’5″ 240 pounds when he played, but he’s even bigger now – it wouldn’t even be fair to guess how much he weighs – but just look at him next to my brother in the picture. I think that says it all.
We showed Frank that we were drinking Big Hurt Beer and he told us we didn’t need more than one and half of those to be ready for the game (not much of a sales pitch if you ask me). Thomas was also drinking a BHB when we met him, so we all clanked cans for our picture. I later tweeted the picture of the three of us and Frank Thomas retweeted it on his account (don’t follow him if you don’t want to hear about Big Hurt Beer — that’s all he tweets about). I thought that was pretty cool.
It was a brief encounter, but one I won’t forget. I loved Frank Thomas. He not only shined for the Chicago White Sox, but he also played for the Oakland Athletics (twice). I was a huge Bash Brothers (Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco) fan as a kid, and my love for the A’s grew with me from there. If you play for my team — you’re one of my guys — so I became an even bigger fan when Thomas came to the Bay Area.
There’s no doubt Frank Thomas will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s a career .301 hitter with 521 home runs (tied for 18th on the all-time list) and 1,704 RBI. The guy was a walk machine as well, getting 1,667 free passes in his career (10th all-time). Frank’s a two-time American League Most Valuable Player and a five-time All-Star. Simply put — he’s one of the best to ever play the game.
Have you ever met Frank Thomas? How about any other baseball stars? I would love to hear your stories! Leave a comment right here or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. You can also connect with me on YouTube and Pinterest as well!