PRO BASEBALL

Big Hurt plans full-time return to big city

2013-04-21T21:30:00Z Big Hurt plans full-time return to big cityGeorge Castle Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 21, 2013 9:30 pm  • 

Las Vegas somehow just didn’t seem Frank Thomas’ style, even after years of raising his second family just off of The Strip.

The Big Hurt is a son of the South, and the man of White Sox history. With one foot back in town already, Thomas plans a full-time move back to Chicago to take care of both business and baseball.

“I’ve got my own beer company (Big Hurt Beer) and I’m working with the team part-time,” Thomas said of his motivations. He can add pre and postgame Sox analysis on Comcast Sports Net.

Will Thomas, among the most patient hitters of modern times, become a hitting coach?

Not quite. He’ll limit himself to mind games, not mechanics in the batting cage, with younger hitters.

“I’m with the kids every day,” Thomas said. “I’m in the locker room talking to them. I can be effective that way. I’d rather talk to them (one-on-one), get their minds right.”

Hairston family does complete circle: With Scott Hairston playing right field for the Cubs, all of the record-tying five big-league Hairstons over three generations have played for a Chicago team.

Family patriarch Sam Hairston was the first African-American catcher for the Sox in 1951, beginning a 48-year career in the organization. Sam’s son and Scott’s father, Jerry Hairston, Sr., played in all or parts of 14 seasons for the Sox.

Prior to Scott, the Cubs side was represented by John Hairston, another of Sam’s sons, who had one start as the team’s first African-American catcher in 1969. Scott’s brother, Jerry, Jr., was a Cubs utility player in 2005-06.

“For all of us to say we played in the city of Chicago, there’s a sense of pride in that,” said Naperville native Scott Hairston. “I’ve always wanted to play for a Chicago team. Jerry, Jr. did, too. And we achieved that. We can walk away when we’re done playing and say we got to play in Chicago.”

Meanwhile, a pair of the four-member, three-generation Bell ballplaying family simultaneously draw Chicago paychecks. Buddy Bell is the Sox’s assistant general manager. Son David Bell is the Cubs’ third-base coach.

Flying feet ready to take off again?: The team-record 77 steals center-fielder Rudy Law amassed for the 1983 Sox weren’t an uncommonly high total for that era. Then came steroids, ridiculous home-run totals and the downplayed art of running.

Law, however, does not expect a return to the days of Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Tim Raines, et. al. creating havoc for pitchers and catchers with 100 or more steals in a season.

“They don’t run any more like they used to,” Law said. “The most they steal now is 50 or 60. I had Rickey Henderson as competition.”

The list: The region’s municipalities and counties have been well-represented in baseball names past and present – Chris Hammond, Gary Matthews Sr. and Jr., Calvin Griffith, Duffy Dyer, Matt Harvey, Mike Lansing, Mike Lowell, Roy Beecher, Bo Porter and Steve Lake.

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