Cleveland Indians (1991-2002)Edit
Thome was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on September 4, 1991 as a third baseman against the Minnesota Twins. He was 2 for 4 in that game, with his first hit coming off pitcher Tom Edens in the fourth inning. He hit his first career home run on October 4 against New York Yankees pitcher Lee Guetterman.
At the plate, Thome hit 25 home runs and 73 runs batted in with a .314 batting average in 1995. Thome then hit 38 home runs in 1996 and 40 in 1997. Thome soon became a prolific home run hitter, once hitting a 511-foot (156 m) shot at Cleveland's Progressive Field (then known as Jacobs Field). It is the longest home run ever recorded at a Cleveland ballpark. He hit 49 home runs with the Indians in 2001, followed by a career-high 52 homers in 2002.
Thome has been nicknamed "The Thomenator," "The Pride of Peoria," and more recently as a member of the White Sox "Mr. Incredible"." Wildly beloved by Indians fans, a Plain Dealer fan poll in 2003 named Thome the most popular athlete in Cleveland sports history. Some of Thome's trademarks are his high socks that he helped make popular again in the mid-'90s, at a time when players wore their pant cuffs down around their ankles and his batting stance in which he holds the bat out with his right hand and points it at right field before the pitcher comes set, a gesture he borrowed from "The Whammer" in the film The Natural.
Philadelphia Phillies (2003-2005)Edit
After the 2002 season, Thome accepted a six-year $85 million offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. Thome hit 47 home runs in his first season with the Phillies to finish one behind Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's single-season team record of 48 in 1980.
On June 14, 2004, Thome hit his 400th career home run to the left-center field seats at Citizens Bank Park., surpassing Al Kaline for 37th on the all-time home run list. He ended the 2004 season with 42 homers, giving him 423 for his career, which placed him 35th on the career list.
Injuries caught up with Thome during the first half of the 2005 season, where he hit only .207 with seven home runs and 30 RBI going into the All-Star break. He had season-ending surgery on his right elbow in August. Ryan Howard proved to be a very successful replacement at first base in the 2005 season, leading all National League rookies in home runs and winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. The emergence of Ryan Howard made Thome expendable to the Phillies. On November 25, 2005, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox along with $22.0 million. The White Sox sent CF Aaron Rowand and minor league pitching prospects Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood to Philadelphia in return.
Chicago White Sox (2006-2009)Edit
Thome became the White Sox's regular designated hitter in April 2006 and flourished in his first season in Chicago. In April, he set the team record for most home runs in the month of April (10), beating Frank Thomas's record by one. He also set a major league record by scoring in each of the White Sox first 17 games. The modern and AL record for consecutive games with a run scored is 18 held by Red Rolfe (1939) and Kenny Lofton (2000). For the season, Thome hit 42 homers, batted in 109 runs, and hit .288. He also struck out 30.0% of the time, the highest percentage in the American League.
On May 1, 2006, Thome returned to Cleveland to play his first game as a visitor at Jacobs Field. The "loud boos Thome heard in each of his six at-bats" were in "sharp contrast" to the "exhilarating reaction Johnny Damon received from Red Sox Nation upon his return to Fenway Park with the Yankees."
On April 15, 2007, Thome was one of three White Sox players (also two coaches) who wore jersey number 42 in recognition of the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut in the White Sox vs. Indians game in Cleveland. Thome pinch-hit for Brian Anderson in the ninth inning and hit an infield single. Alex Cintron, also wearing 42, pinch ran for Thome.
On September 16, 2007, Thome hit his 500th career home run off Los Angeles Angels pitcher Dustin Moseley. The home run was a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth inning with one man on base, which gave the White Sox a 9–7 victory. Thome became the 23rd major leaguer to reach the milestone and the third in the 2007 season (the others were Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez) as well as the first ever to do it with a walk-off shot.
25 members of Thome's family and friends were in attendance to witness his milestone, including his father and wife. The game in which Thome hit the home run was also the Jim Thome bobblehead giveaway day at U.S. Cellular Field. Thome rounded the bases pointing upward in homage to his mother, who died from breast cancer in January 2005.
On June 4, 2008, Thome hit a 464 foot home run—the ninth longest home run in U.S. Cellular Field history—off of Kansas City Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar in a 6–4 White Sox victory. On August 14 of that year, Thome hit the first of four consecutive home runs by the White Sox. On September 30, he hit a solo shot in the AL Central Tiebreaker game which proved to be the difference as the White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 1–0.
Thome's hitting continued to be strong in 2009, and on June 1, he hit his 550th career home run in a win against the Oakland A's. On July 17, 2009, Thome hit a grand slam and a three-run homer in the same game for a career-high seven RBIs. On August 15, Thome passed Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and moved up to 11th on the all time home run list with 564 home runs.
Los Angeles Dodgers (2009)Edit
On August 31, 2009, Thome was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with cash for minor league infielder Justin Fuller. Thome's only appearances with the Dodgers were as a pinch hitter. He had four hits in seventeen at-bats with the Dodgers.
Minnesota Twins (2010–present)Edit
When the Twins opened their new ballpark, Target Field, on April 12, 2010 in Minneapolis, Thome, for the third time in his career, was a part of an organization that celebrated the grand opening of a brand new home ballpark. The other two openings he was part of were the 1994 Cleveland Indians as they opened Jacobs Field (now known as Progressive Field), the 2004 Philadelphia Phillies as they opened Citizens Bank Park. He hit his first homer with the Twins on 4/8/10, during the season-opening road trip. Thome hit his first triple since 2004 on June 28, 2010, in a home game.
On August 17, 2010, Thome hit the first walk-off hit in Target Field, a 445-foot 2-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Chicago White Sox reliever Matt Thornton. It was the 12th walk-off home run of his career, tying him for first all time with Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, and Babe Ruth. Thome finished the 2010 season with a .283 average, 25 home runs and 59 runs batted in. Statistically, in terms of power measurements such as slugging percentage and at bats per home run, it was the best season for Thome since 2002.
On January 14, 2011, Thome accepted a one-year, US $3 million contract with incentives to continue playing for the Twins.
Climb up the all time home run listEdit
On July 3, 2010, Thome hit his 573rd and 574th Home Runs. In doing so he displaced fellow Twins player Harmon Killebrew as the #10 all-time home run hitter. The game was stopped and the Twins played a pre-recorded message from Harmon Killebrew congratulating Thome on the achievement during which he said, "...I'm glad he was able to hit it in a Twins uniform. I only wish I could have been there to see it."
On September 4, 2010, Thome again hit two home runs in a single game to tie and then pass Mark McGwire for the 9th spot on the career home run list.
Thome passed Frank Robinson on September 11th, 2010 when he hit his 587th career home run in the top of the 12th inning in Cleveland. The home run was the only run scored in the game.
In his career to date (through 2010 season), Thome has a .559 slugging percentage, and a .404 on-base percentage. He is considered one of the most complete power hitters of his era due to his ability to create extra base hits, maintain a solid batting average for a power hitter (his career batting average is .278), and ability to get on base. Despite this, he is still very prone to striking out. He is 2nd on the all-time list of strikeouts by a batter, and the active leader n that category, with 2,395. Thome also has 1,679 walks. Only 9 other major league players have more career walks than Thome.
Thome has been named Player of the Month three times: July 2001, September 2003 and June 2004. He is one of only six players to be named Player of the Month in each league (Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff, Mark McGwire, Gaylord Perry and Dave Winfield are the others).
Jim Thome has the fifth-lowest career AB/HR (at bats per home run) average in major-league history. His 13.68 is eclipsed only by Mark McGwire (10.61), Babe Ruth (11.76), Ryan Howard (12.16), and Barry Bonds (12.90). Stretching behind Thome, all with averages greater than 14, are such hall-of-famers as Ralph Kiner, Harmon Killebrew, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, and Mike Schmidt, in that order.
Although once a fine first baseman, with a career fielding percentage of .994, injuries have hampered Thome so that he is almost completely limited to the DH position. Thome played one game at first base for the Chicago White Sox in 2007, but he has not played the field since.
Baseball and personal lifeEdit
Off the field, Thome is putting all 10 of his nieces and nephews through college. It was reported on ESPN's SportsCenter that shortly after his nephew, Brandon, was paralyzed in a tragic accident, he asked Jim to hit a home run for him; not only did Thome fulfill the request but he hit two homers in the game. In a 2007 poll of 464 Major League Baseball players, he was voted the second friendliest player in a tie with Mike Sweeney.
Jim Thome currently lives in Hinsdale, Illinois.
On November 16, 2007, Thome and his wife, Andrea, welcomed their second child, son Landon. They have a daughter, Lila Grace.
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