CHICAGO -- Joe Crede played alongside Jim Thome during three of the slugger's four seasons with the White Sox.Aaron Rowand was traded to Philadelphia for Thome following the White Sox 2005 World Series championship season. But if Crede and Rowand -- two accomplished players in their own right -- had
CHICAGO -- Joe Crede played alongside Jim Thome during three of the slugger's four seasons with the White Sox.
Aaron Rowand was traded to Philadelphia for Thome following the White Sox 2005 World Series championship season. But if Crede and Rowand -- two accomplished players in their own right -- had their way, Thome would have long ago been specially inducted into the Hall of Fame prior to waiting the requisite five years after his retirement and making his first appearance on the 2018 Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot as announced Monday.
Their thought process centered more upon Thome as a teammate and human being, rather than his impressive statistics amassed over more than two decades.
• 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot
"He's the epitome of a baseball player," said Crede in a 2015 interview of Thome, who was one of seven players on this year's ballot with some sort of White Sox connection.
"Just the greatest dude ever," said Rowand in that same interview.
Manny Ramirez (second appearance) and Sammy Sosa (sixth) represent the returning players on the Hall of Fame ballot who once suited up for the White Sox. Joining Thome for the first time with White Sox ties are Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel, Carlos Lee and Orlando Hudson.
Lee had the longest White Sox tenure from this group, knocking out 152 of his 358 home runs and 957 of his 2,273 hits during six years on Chicago's South Side from 1999-2004. Ramirez had the shortest stint, playing 24 games in 2010 and hitting just one of his 555 career homers after being claimed off waivers from the Dodgers.
Thome had the greatest impact of the group. He finished with 612 homers overall, joining with Sosa as two of nine players to surpass the 600 plateau. Thome's resume also featured 1,699 RBIs, 1,583 runs scored, a .402 on-base percentage, a .554 slugging percentage, 2,328 hits and 1,747 walks during a 22-year career, statistics that should stand up as a strong first-ballot Hall of Fame case with an induction announcement coming on Jan. 24 at 5 p.m. CT on MLB Network. Thome, who joined the White Sox front office on July 2, 2013, as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, produced 134 home runs, 369 RBIs, a .933 OPS and a 138 OPS+ over four years with the White Sox.
Thome's 500th home run came at U.S. Cellular Field in walk-off fashion against the Angels in 2007. His solo home run off of Minnesota's Nick Blackburn provided the lone run in arguably the most exciting single game in franchise history, a 1-0 White Sox victory over the Twins in a 2008 American League Central tiebreaker to decide the division title, known as the Blackout Game.
Being elected to the Hall of Fame was referred to by Thome as a "special thing" during a 2016 interview after he was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame and the Phillies Wall of Fame. But it was not all-consuming for the humble and affable individual.
"Winning a World Series, I've always said, is the pinnacle for every player to try to accomplish," Thome said. "And then that honor to go in that great fraternity is through longevity and playing a long time. Just having somebody recognize you for what you've done for the game, it would be very cool."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.