James Howard Thome
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 220 lb.
- School Illinois Central College
- High School Limestone High School
- Debut September 4, 1991
- Final Game October 3, 2012
- Born August 27, 1970 in Peoria, IL USA
Jim Thome is one of the great sluggers in baseball history. When Thome was at bat, it was likely that he would either homer, strike out or walk. On August 15, 2011 he became the 8th player to hit 600 home runs. He has also led the league in walks three times with over 120 each. He retired with an amazing 40 percent career OBP, despite his propensity to stike out (182 times one season).
During high school in Bartonville, Illinois (not far from his birthplace, Peoria), Thome was all-state in baseball and basketball. He went on to play both sports at Illinois Central College. He was signed as a 13th round pick in the 1989 amateur draft by the Cleveland Indians and scout Tom Couston. Thome started his minor league career in the Gulf Coast League in 1989.
Thome came up shortly after turning 21 and was with the Cleveland Indians for over a decade. Spending part of his 1992 and 1993 seasons in the minors, he was slugging over .500 and it was clear that he should be at the major league level full time. He played almost exclusively third base at the major league level from 1991-1996, but since that time he has never played another game at third, appearing only at first base and DH.
Thome has never won an MVP award, finishing as high as fourth. However, in 2002 when he hit 52 homers and led the league in slugging, he won the Roberto Clemente Award. He hit a home run in 7 consecutive games that year, one game short of the all-time record, held by Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. He later won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 2004, and in a 2005 survey was chosen the "Best Teammate in Major League Baseball" by a wide margin.
As of September 16, 2007, Thome was #4 on the all-time list for fewest At-Bats-Per-Home-Run. The three players ahead of him were Mark McGwire (in a shorter career), Babe Ruth, and Barry Bonds. Thome had hit a home run every 13.6 at-bats, on average.
Thome joined his fourth team in 2010, the Minnesota Twins, and continued to hit for power although one of the oldest players in baseball. He became the oldest player to reach the 600-home run mark (40 years, 353 days) on August 15, 2011, hitting number 599 and 600 in consecutive at-bats in the same game. At the same time he was the 2nd fastest player in history to reach 600 home runs, doing so in 8,167 at bats. Only Babe Ruth (6,921 AB), ranks ahead of him on that list. Ten days later, the Twins, having a dreadful season marred by an unending string of injuries, placed him on waivers and he was claimed by his original team, the Cleveland Indians. On August 25th, the Twins agreed to trade him to the Indians in return for a player to be named later. He finished the year by hitting .296 in 22 games for the Indians. He then split the 2012 season between the Phillies, where he hit .242 in 30 games, and the Baltimore Orioles for whom he hit .256 in 28 games and hit his final three big league homers. He retired after the season with a total of 612 homers.
On August 2, 2014, Thome signed a one-day contract with the Indians in order to officially retire with the team. The club put on a big feast for him unveiling an eight-foot statue of the slugger outside of Progressive Field. Team President Paul Dolan commented that Thome looked good in an Indians uniform and expressed the hope that he would be wearing the team cap when he was eventually enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Thome was the first major leaguer to hit 13 career walk-off home runs. The old record of 12 had been shared by Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson. Thome was the 4th player to hit 100+ homers for three different clubs, following Darrell Evans, Reggie Jackson and Alex Rodriguez.
When interviewed about possible steroid use, Thome denied ever having taken steroids, saying that he was a big guy who grew up on a farm, and developed his strength doing farm duties.
- 1993 MVP International League Charlotte Knights
- 5-time All-Star (1997-1999, 2004 & 2006)
- AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1996/3B)
- 2006 AL Comeback Player of the Year
- AL Slugging Percentage Leader (2002)
- AL OPS Leader (2002)
- NL Home Runs Leader (2003)
- 3-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (1997, 1999 & 2002)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 16 (1994-2004 & 2006-2010)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 12 (1996-2004 & 2006-2008)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1997, 2001-2004 & 2006)
- 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2002)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 9 (1996, 1997, 1999-2004 & 2006)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 8 (1996, 1997, 1999-2003 & 2006)
- Ted Berg: "Jim Thome isn't crushing awesome homers anymore, but he's still getting his 'baseball fix'", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, April 26, 2017.