When it came to Major League Baseball, Frank Thomas was a unicorn. Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1989, the “Big Hurt” was unlike any player who came before—the only major leaguer to go seven consecutive seasons with at least a .300 batting average, 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored, 100 walks, and 20 home runs.
In addition, Thomas was a five-time All-Star, a two-time American League MVP, and the AL batting champion in 1997. And in an era of baseball tainted by performance-enhancing drugs, Thomas was a loud critic of PEDs and proponent of drug testing. No surprise, Thomas was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014 on the first ballot. Here, he speaks to us about baseball in 2022, keeping fit, and being a spokesman for Nugenix.
Men’s Journal: What’s your take on the state of Major League Baseball in 2022?
Frank Thomas: It’s evolving into something different. I’d say it’s now more about the home runs—and strikeouts don’t matter as much. That’s not to say the talent level isn’t there. It’s just a different standard. Beyond that, you can’t really compare eras. Clearly the game is in great hands with these great young players.
Is there anyone playing the game today who approaches it the same way you did?
Well, I just wanted to make something happen every day. To be honest, I was obsessed with that. Today, you look at a guy like Mike Trout. He’s very consistent. And now we’ve got one of the greatest players to ever play the game in Shohei Ohtani. He’s just something we’ve never seen. To pitch that way and to hit that way—I mean, the guy makes it look like it’s a high school game.
You’re now a baseball analyst for FOX nationally and NBC locally in Chicago. Any other baseball-related endeavors since retirement?
I’m CEO and half owner at the Field of Dreams.
From the movie?
Yep. We’re building nine new fields for Little League, softball, and 13- to 17-year-olds playing in wood bat leagues.
How’d you get involved in that?
One of my best friends was an original owner, and he brought me in. I’m just happy to be a part of it. Over the next three years, we’re going to build a hotel, a field house, and dorms for players. It’s a place that means so much to so many people—old and young.
How are you keeping fit since your playing days?
I try to work out five times a week. It’s not as intense as it used to be. I try to get in there and do some cardio, a little weightlifting, nothing too crazy. It keeps that energy going and helps with my focus at work. It’s pretty much the pre-programmed life I’ve had since high school. I mean, there were some years in there when I kept it to a minimum, but then I felt like I was getting sluggish. That’s what can happen to people who leave the game. So I try to keep up a routine. I find that if I work out, I think a lot better. Going a week without getting a workout or some cardio would just feel weird.
What’s it like being the spokesman for Nugenix, a line of testosterone boosters.
I’ve had a lot of fun with that over the last eight years—spearheading the campaign since 2015. Hopefully that continues for a very long time. At this point, it’s second nature for folks to see me in a Nugenix ad, and I feel blessed with that.
How does Nugenix Total-T work for you?
After I retired, they approached me and I was like, “Sure, as long as it doesn’t involve steroids or anything like that.” As an older gentleman, it’s perfect. Nugenix Total-T adds spice to my life and provides a lot of energy. It gets me going. You miss that when you leave the game.
Do you get much fan feedback from all those Nugenix ads?
Oh yeah. I’ll be at the airport and people will say, “Hey, there’s that Nugenix guy!” And I’m like, “Excuse me, I played baseball for 20-something years.” But I love it. I get a real kick out of it. It’s taken on a life of its own and I’m proud of it.
I actually had a big moment last week. I was at the Beverly Wilshire hotel, walking into the lounge—and someone said the tagline: “And she’ll like it, too!” I turn around, and it’s the great Billy Dee Williams. That was a legendary moment. I’ve been a big fan of his for so many years, and for him to get a kick out of those commercials? That’s heaven. He said, “You’re doing a great job with those.” It was a huge compliment. Talk about shocking the hell out of me. It doesn’t get bigger than that.
Your take on the SNL Nugenix ad parody? How’d Kenan Thompson do playing you?
I think he did a good job—and, hey, press is press, right? To acknowledge how many people are seeing the ads is just one more compliment. That’s the way I look at it.
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