MLB, Tribe honor Thome with All-Star Complex

July 8th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- played for several teams during his Hall of Fame career, but the slugger will always be most closely associated with the Indians, the team he broke in with 28 years ago.

Thome left quite a legacy in Cleveland, as the all-time home run leader in club history, a prolific part of its playoff teams in the 1990s and a community minded public figure who won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2002.

On Monday, Thome added another distinction to his resume when the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland Metroparks, Major League Baseball and the Indians unveiled the Jim Thome All-Star Complex, which includes the newly renovated Talty Field at Brookside Reservation, to serve area youth baseball players.

"To pull in and see that sign out front, that'll be there for a long time," an emotional Thome said. "You feel proud of that, you feel great that you were able to be a part of a great organization and a great city that supports their players. We as players appreciate that and respect that. At the end of the day, it is about our youth."

The dedication, the third of four Legacy projects the Indians and MLB are rolling out during All-Star Week, was a star-studded event. In addition to Thome, four other former Indians were also in attendance: Indians Hall of Famers Charles Nagy, Carlos Baerga and Sam McDowell, and pitcher Jaret Wright, a member of the 1997 American League Championship team.

The list of dignitaries didn't end there. Commissioner Rob Manfred, Indians owner Paul Dolan and Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson were also on hand to celebrate the opening of the brand-new turfed field.

"It's the most important thing that we do," Manfred said. "It's the great part of these events, to have the opportunity for Major League Baseball to give back to the communities. I love seeing young people here, and I love thinking about the fact that there's going to be young people playing baseball here for a long time."

Renovations included a new, completely artificially-turfed field, which will be utilized by the Cleveland Baseball Federation RBI teams and become a premier site to host Play Ball, Pitch, Hit & Run, and Jr. Home Run Derby events, in addition to other special baseball or softball events and clinics.

Doosan Bobcat, global leader in construction equipment, donated machinery to help complete the refurbishment project.

Thome also donated to the project.

"Jim has been fantastic over the years in contributing in many, many ways," Dolan said. "What he did here, contributing money to make this field happen, and it becomes the Jim Thome All-Star Complex -- it's something we'll treasure for a long time. Not that anyone's ever going to forget him, but his name is very prominent in our community."

"What a special day," Thome said. "You look out, you see this beautiful setting. it's truly what baseball is all about. What a magical ride this All-Star Week has been so far for me and my family. Being here today is another humbling experience. It's truly an honor to give my name and be forever connected to this incredible legacy project."

Part of the dedication ceremony included an address from one of the kids who will be playing on the new field. Philip Kay, a player on Gunner Park Rec Center's junior baseball team, pointed out that the new turf surface will lead to more games, since the field conditions will remain intact even on bad weather days.

"It's an added benefit to the community, to the parents, to the players, to the adult baseball leagues that played here, to the schools, to the city rec centers and others that get to have a fun time enjoying the great game of baseball here on this field," Kay said. "Now, let's play ball."