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March 6, 2014

Thomas predicts big induction turnout

'Big Hurt' gets Hall of Fame tour

(Continued)

As the results of the BBWAA voting neared, Thomas said he dealt with different feelings he wasn’t used to: nerves.

“I missed a lot of sleep the last few months,” he said.

As he was getting on the plane to go to New York City for the Hall of Fame media conference, he got a phone call from President Barack Obama.

“He’s a huge White Sox fan, so I met him before he got into the office,” he said. “But when I answered the phone and his secretary said to hold for the President, I just thought, ‘uh, oh.’

“It was a really special moment for me,” he continued.

Of course, there will be a lot of special moments this year for Thomas.

“It is weird,” he said. “I think it will sink in when I get on stage. I’ve been told to bring a sweat cloth and a crying towel, because you will shed some tears.”

He has also been told to keep his speech short since there will be six inductees July 27.

“They’re only giving us 10 minutes (per speech), 12 minutes at most,” he said. “Just get it done.”

But even without the long speeches, Thomas said that he thinks the class of 2014 will be a special one.

“It is a dream to be going in with three iconic managers and two of the great pitchers of my time,” said Thomas, who added he’s been to Cooperstown five times, the last coming May 21, 2007, when his Toronto Blue Jays lost, 13-7, to the Baltimore Orioles in the last Hall of Fame Game played at Doubleday Field.

Thomas’ orientation was the first of the six — Tony LaRussa was scheduled to visit a month ago, but was postponed because of a snowstorm — and the other five visits will happen in the next six weeks.

If Thomas’ visit is any indication, the interest in this year’s class is going to be huge. More than 20 media members attended the post-tour news conference. Hall officials said they were surprised by the turnout.

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