This is my entry into the Blogger Bracket Challenge. If you are entertained by me making up lies about Frank Thomas and Gladys Knight, please consider voting for this post at Nachos Grande.
As Charles Barkley will let you know, basketball players are not role models. You may remember that he was famously quoted as saying, "Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."
Many other basketball players would go on to use this phrase, unfortunately, it would be whenever they were discussing their latest paternity suit. I'm looking at you, Shawn Kemp.
Unfortunately, as young fans learned in 1997, baseball players could not be role models either.
That was the year that Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas...
(pause for dramatic effect)
... would go to jail.
Shown here after his arrest, Frank had been linked to some unsavory characters on the South Side of Chi-Town. While many believe that "The Big Hurt" moniker came from his propensity for crushing baseballs (and presumably the opposing pitchers feelings), it turned out that Frankie was also moonlighting as some muscle-for-hire and was connected to a money laundering scandal.
As reporters crowded around the hulking Thomas, he broke down and showed a softer side that is rarely seen, especially in public.
I've always been The Big Hurt. But guess what? I'm a person as well. When I found out that my mom had been the one responding to my fan letters to Gladys Knight, I cried for days. I still have a hard time listening to Midnight Train without tearing up. Sometimes, The Big Hurt can hurt, too.
As Thomas was led away, the country wondered how they would move on. Could they ever learn to recover after being betrayed by a hard swinging, home run hitting first baseman?
Fortunately, the following year, a man named Mark McGwire would hit 70 homers and restore faith in the purity of the game.