Jim Thome made history Monday night when he hit his 599th and 600th career home runs in back-to-back at-bats for the Minnesota Twins. The game was in Detroit and the fans there cheered for Thome when he his his 600th.
It’s a well-deserved reaction, too.
Thome is regarded as one of the good guys in baseball. He’s generally liked, never been linked to steroids and always seems to be genuine.
When Thome toured the Hall of Fame in 2008 and donated his 500th home run ball, I had a chance to cover that event and chat with him. It was like he and I were long-lost friends. I’ve dealt with many professionals during my career and Thome is one of the best. He gave the time, chatted with me about baseball and the historic ball he donated to the Hall. He event joked around a bit. His father was there, too, and gave some time to me for a few comments.
When Thome signed with the Phillies as a free agent following the 2002 season, it was the signing that many thought would push the Phillies to the World Series title. His introductory news conference was filled with emotion and he cried when talking about his 12 years in Cleveland and how hard it was to leave there.
A couple of years later, he got injured and the Phillies needed to bring somebody up to play first while Thome was hurt. That guy was Ryan Howard, who eventually made the Phillies choose — and they went with Howard.
Thome went to the White Sox next, missing their World Series title by a year. He also played with the Dodgers in 2009, but his team fell to the Phillies in the National League Championship series. The past two years, he’s been in Minnesota.
He’s never won a World Series title, but is a five-time All-Star and has played in the postseason nine times.
Rumors have floated for weeks that the Phillies had been interested in trying to bring him back as a bat off the bench for the postseason run. He’d have to get through waivers at this point for the Phils to get him, but it would be nice to see him return to Philly for a final run in the postseason. Who knows what will happen there, but as a fan of baseball, I am extremely happy to see someone like Thome hit a major milestone and be the eighth person to reach 600 homers.
I always believed Thome was a Hall of Famer before he hit that milestone. But I believe this makes him a lock. And, if so, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com.