Great evening for Big Hurt, Coach K in Chicago

By Etheria Modacure

After having his jersey retired and picture placed on the outfield wall at U.S. Cellular Field, Frank Thomas is one step closer to being enshrined in Cooperstown after he was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 15.

The 14th annual induction ceremony and dinner was held at Hawthorne Race Course, 3501 S. Laramie Ave. , in Cicero, Ill.  Thomas, Duke University’s head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski and others  were in attendance to receive honors and join a long list of sport legends in Chicago.

The Hall of Fame has inducted 422  athletes, media members, coaches, officials and others who have made contributions to Chicago through sports. Thomas and Krzyzewski were the headliners of the event on Sept. 15.

Krzyzewski received the Ray Meyer College Coach of the Year Award.

The late Meyer coached at DePaul University from 1942 to 1984. Krzyzewski said he admired Meyer as a coach and later as a friend. He said Meyer set the standard for all college basketball coaches.

Krzyzewski has won four national championships with Duke —1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010 and  was the head coach for the 2008 Gold Medal U.S. Olympic Men’s basketball team and most recently won the gold medal at the Federation of International Basketball World Championships in Istanbul.

The hall of fame coach didn’t put the spotlight on himself as he acknowledged all of the great players whom he has coached in the past.

“I think I’ve been fortunate to be on teams that have been very successful,” Krzyzewski said before he was inducted. “The coach is happy to stand next to

good players.”

In attendance with Krzyzewski and his family, was former player and Northbrook, Ill. native Jonathan Scheyer, who helped guide the Blue Devils to their fourth national championship in April.

Scheyer praised his former coach for his work ethic and dedication to the game

of basketball.

“Late nights, he would be in the office watching tape and in the morning he would be doing the same thing,” Scheyer said. “When I was at Duke, we were following his lead.”

Krzyzewski, who recently coached Chicago Bulls’ all-star point guard Derrick Rose in the FIBA tournament, praised the player he said has a lot of potential and passion for basketball.

“Derrick is a great young man,” Krzyzewski said. “He just wants to keep getting better. It was an honor for me to coach him.”

Krzyzewski admitted to being a Bulls fan and said the team should do well this season with Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. Both players were coached by Krzyzewski at Duke.

Also inducted was Comcast SportsNet President Jim Corno. Corno has watched the network grow from 13,000 subscribers in 1984 when it was Sportvision, to more than 5 million today.

“[I was] fortunate to be sitting in the right chair at the right time,” Corno said. “As long as pro teams are a part of it and the content is there, it’s something fans want to watch.”

Corno said his achievement wasn’t about him but the people who have worked for Comcast SportsNet, Sportvision and Fox Sports Net.

With the White Sox winning the World Series in 2005, the Bulls instant classic seven-game playoff series against the Boston Celtics in 2009, the Cubs playoff   appearance in 2008 and the Blackhawks Stanley Cup win this year,  Corno said having winning teams helped the network thrive.

Thomas, who hit the most home runs in White Sox history (448) and was a model of consistency with his .301 lifetime batting average, received his honor

in the city he played in for 16 seasons.

Thomas’ jersey was also retired on Aug. 29 at U.S. Cellular Field. He reflected on what a year 2010 has been given his induction into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s [been] an overwhelming year for me,” Thomas said. “I’ve had two jersey retirement ceremonies. Now coming to the Chicagoland [Sports] Hall of Fame, [I’m] really proud of the career and happy Chicago is giving me the love.”

Thomas is the only player in White Sox history to win consecutive MVP awards (1993 and 1994), and said his proudest moment with the franchise was when his jersey was retired.

“It’s unimaginable to have 40,000 people [give you a] standing ovation,  screaming your name and giving you the love that you can only wish and dream for,” Thomas said.

Because Thomas officially retired in February, he won’t be eligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame until 2015, but he said, “That will close out my career and that will be a huge achievement.”

Thomas is one of four players in baseball history and the only right-handed hitter to have a .300 or better career average, more than 500 home runs, 1,500 plus hits and more than 1,500 runs batted in.

The other three players are Mel Ott, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. Thomas said he would hope to be a first ballot hall of famer in 2015.

“I think my resume speaks for itself,” He said.