Legendary slugger and all around great guy Jim Thome has been selected to be a part of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
Jim Thome is headed to Cooperstown.
It was announced on Wednesday that Thome, along with Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman will make up the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018. This was Thome’s first year of eligibility and that was apparently all it took as he garnered enough votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America to be permanently enshrined in Cooperstown.
Thome’s list of accomplishments is impressive and makes it easy to see why the power hitter would have no problem getting into the Hall of Fame. In his 22-year career he totaled 612 home runs, which is good for eighth all time in baseball, and 1,747 walks, good for seventh. He is only one of three players, the others being Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds, to have amassed at least 600 home runs and 1,500 walks in his career.
He had at least 100 RBIs nine times, was a five-time All-Star, hit a MLB-record 13 walk-off home runs, homered in 38 different stadiums and had nine grand slams.
But most important, anyone in baseball that you ask will tell you that Thome is one of the nicest, most genuine people the sport has ever seen. He had a reputation for being an incredibly hard worker and was always willing to help the new guys navigate the life of a big leaguer.
Although Thome spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians, and it will be their baseball cap that he will be wearing in Cooperstown, the effect he had on the Philadelphia Phillies will be felt for generations to come.
Before the 2003 season, the Phillies were getting ready to play their final season at Veterans Stadium before they moved across the street to the brand new Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies knew that they had to shake their reputation around the league of being cheap and reluctant to spend money of free agents in order to help get people excited about the team and the new ballpark. So when Thome hit the free agent market after the 2002 season, the Phillies pounced.
The result was a six-year, $85 million contract that brought Jim Thome to Philadelphia. In that first year he would hit 47 homers and finish fourth for the NL MVP Award. Thome would go on to hit 101 home runs while wearing a Phillies uniform, including the milestone 400th of his career before being traded during the 2006 offseason.
While Thome missed the Phillies return to the postseason and the World Series victory in 2008, none of that would have happened if not for Thome. He played a key role in getting Ryan Howard ready for the big time and giving him a chance to develop. His signing showed everyone that the Phillies would no longer be considered a small market team in a big city.
Phillies chairman David Montgomery might have put it best when he said it was “A transformative moment for our organization.”
To put it simply, without Jim Thome, there would never have been a Golden Age of Phillies baseball.
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In 2016 the Phillies added Thome to the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame. His return to the city at that time was the perfect excuse to enjoy all the great memories that Thome was both directly and indirectly responsible for in Philly.
And now with his selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we get to relive all those memories yet again.
Congrats to Jim Thome. Few players deserved it more than you.