Jim Thome will be wearing a Cleveland Indians cap on his Baseball Hall of Fame bronze plaque after his July induction in Cooperstown, N.Y. It is only fitting he wears that cap as he spent 13 of his 22 big league seasons in Cleveland, which originally drafted him in the
Jim Thome will be wearing a Cleveland Indians cap on his Baseball Hall of Fame bronze plaque after his July induction in Cooperstown, N.Y. It is only fitting he wears that cap as he spent 13 of his 22 big league seasons in Cleveland, which originally drafted him in the 13th round in 1989.
Thome also spent four seasons with the Phillies and Chicago White Sox, two with the Minnesota Twins and parts of one season each with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.
While his Phillies stay wasn't that long, Thome made a huge impact for the franchise as it closed Veterans Stadium and opened Citizens Bank Park. Here are some of the comments from his time with the Phillies.
"I couldn't be happier for Jim, who is like a son to me. This is totally deserving, and for me, ranks up there with anything I've ever seen happen in the game of baseball. For someone that I met as a 19-year-old and saw improve as much as anyone over time, it makes me smile to think that all that hard work, all those swings in the batting cage, is now paying off for him. I started thinking this was possible after he hit his 500th home run and for the day to finally be here, it's like winning the World Series all over again."
-- Charlie Manuel
"Jim and I enjoyed many memorable moments together, not the least of which was when I 'passed the torch' to him when we closed the Vet. That was a moment I won't soon forget. When Jim came to the plate, nobody went to the concession stand. Behind the scenes, Jim has an upbeat personality and what I always admired about him was that he was always willing to listen and wanted to learn from others despite how much he had accomplished. He would always pick my brain and loved to talk hitting, which was a byproduct of his unique relationship with Charlie Manuel. Jim will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time. Baseball is in his blood and I can't wait to sit behind him when he is making his speech. I'll be the first one to shake his hand and say, 'Welcome to the club,' as he deserves this honor as much as anyone."
-- Mike Schmidt
"There's no player more deserving of a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection than Jim Thome. His stats speak for themselves, but they only represent one layer of his HOF credentials. Jim is a tremendous person and family man, and he was one of the all-time great teammates. Jim's signing with the Phillies accomplished a great many things for the organization. First, he made us a better team. He gave us the opportunity to develop Ryan Howard at the proper pace. His clubhouse presence among a lot of outstanding young players allowed them to learn how to handle the pressures of the game. In a global sense, his signing validated and reinforced the promises we made to our fans about being fully committed to use the resources of a new ballpark to build a championship-caliber organization. And he just happened to open the door for us to hire the winningest manager in Phillies history: Charlie Manuel. Baseball, the Phillies, Philadelphia and many of us individually owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Thome."
-- Ed Wade
"I want to say congrats to one of the most deserving, and one of the most genuine, people I've ever met in my entire life. This is one of the greatest achievements you can accomplish in the game. I'm extremely happy for Jim and his family. I'm proud I was able to call him a teammate and a mentor and even more proud to call him a friend. Congrats, Big Thome."
"I would like to congratulate Jim Thome on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is no one more deserving of such an honor. Watching him hit was something I looked forward to on a daily basis. He was clearly an unbelievable hitter, but somehow an even better person. Jim is a once-in-a-lifetime player and person and I'm honored to have witnessed part of his career firsthand. Congrats, Big Jim."
-- Chase Utley
"It was an honor to manage a great person like Jim Thome. His signing with the Phillies turned our franchise into a perennial contender. Congratulations, Jim, you have earned the right to be with the greatest players of all time."
-- Larry Bowa
"Jim's signing was a transformative moment for our organization. The combination of him joining us, along with David Bell, and the opportunity to move into Citizens Bank Park, set us up for the subsequent successful run we had. Jim's qualities as a player are well-documented and he exceeded all expectations as a person and a teammate. In addition to his 400th home run, one moment I will cherish forever is Mike Schmidt greeting Jim at home plate the day we closed the Vet. That was very special. The Phillies owe a great deal to Jim Thome. Congratulations to him on his induction into the Hall of Fame."
-- David Montgomery
"They didn't call him 'Gentleman Jim' for nothing. A great family man, and that's exactly how he treated his teammates -- as family. Jim is a real class act, he greeted everyone with a smile no matter who you were and made sure he spoke to all his teammates no matter what kind of day he was having."
-- Brett Myers
"Sharing the clubhouse with Jim not once but twice was an honor. His infectious smile, gentle nature, and the extra-large and tight hugs he'd give his friends because he was genuinely excited to see you were things I looked forward to every day. He made me strive to be a better player every day with the hope being he didn't feel like he had to do it all himself. I just wanted to be a part of his legacy -- not for bragging rights, but simply to know what it felt like to stand so close to greatness. If you want to read about his numbers, you can Google those. And if you ever tried to ask him about his, he'd humbly and almost embarrassingly respond 'Oh, I don't know,' then with a devilish look on his face look you right in your eyes and place his paws on your shoulders and say, 'But there are a lot of names in that book!' Well, Jim, that book has traveled many miles on the wings of many leather balls that met the barrel of your bat. And now that book can take its final trip up to Cooperstown. Congratulations to you on your well-deserved Hall of Fame induction and to all the others you will share the stage with on that day."
-- Jimmy Rollins
"I remember playing against Jim in Rookie league and even then he hit the ball as far as anyone I'd ever seen. I was lucky enough to have the great opportunity to play with him in Philadelphia and he was one of best teammates I'd ever had. He was always positive and he never changed."
-- Mike Lieberthal
Larry Shenk is in charge of alumni relations and team historian for the Phillies.