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Frank is sad in the way all broke former players are sad.
March 13, 2000
AFTER STRUGGLING FOR TWO YEARS AT THE PLATE, FRANK THOMAS IS TRYING TO RECLAIM HIS PLACE AS ONE OF THE GAME'S PREMIER HITTERS
William Nack [...]
[In 1997] Thomas was at the zenith of his career. He was making $7.15 million a year, and he was about to sign a six-year, $85 million contract extension that would pay him through 2006. In December '96 he had moved his wife, Elise, and their three children—son Sterling, then 4, and daughters Sloan, 2, and Sydney, five months—into their new $8.1 million, 24,000-square-foot gated house inside a gated community in Oak Brook, Ill., the only Chicago suburb with polo fields. The white palace sits on three acres and has eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, six fireplaces, two four-car garages, an 83-by-23-foot indoor batting cage, two turtle doves and this vulture in its pear tree: annual property taxes of $93,24701. [sic] "A dream house," Thomas says.
By December '97, just three months after signing that new contract and one year after moving into the Oak Brook house, the apparently idyllic world Thomas had fashioned began to come apart. He separated from his wife (though he insists, contrary to court records, that he did not move out of the mansion). "It was tough," says Thomas, who declines to discuss the separation. (In November 1999 Elise would sue for divorce, saying Frank had been "guilty of...grounds for dissolution of marriage" that she preferred not to disclose.) [...]
Thomas says he has always had a deep love of music. As he grew rich playing baseball, he began investing heavily in the music business, founding his own recording label, Un-D-Nyable Entertainment, and searching for people to run it and for rhythm-and-blues and hip-hop talent to make it grow. He has yet to strike platinum with any performer in his stable—this summer Thomas is putting out an album by various Un-D-Nyable artists—and he denies reports that he has lost upward of $3 million in the business. "What I've spent is irrelevant," he says. "I still have a studio. It takes one record to turn things around." [...]
Big Hurt Enterprises, the company that marketed him, is "all but defunct," according to the Sun-Times, having slashed its staff from seven to one after Thomas lost or gave up most of his endorsement deals-including the five-year, $5 million contract with Reebok, which was canceled two years early when Thomas began wearing Franklin batting gloves. (One former Big Hurt employee told the Sun-Times that once Thomas signed his first big contract with the Sox, he lost interest in marketing himself; others, including Barb Kozuh, Thomas's former personal manager, say he became distracted by the music business.) Meanwhile, the Frank Thomas Charitable Foundation is inactive, according to the Sun-Times, though Thomas denies this. As for the record company, Thomas cut its staff by more than two thirds because, Kozuh believes, "he has decided to concentrate on baseball."
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