To the common baseball fan the above statement might seem a little bit ridiculous, but to those who know baseball the above statement is a no brainer. Jim Thome was never the best player in baseball during his career, never won an MVP, never won a world series, and was an all-star just 5-times in his 22 year career. However when you really break down his numbers and his longevity, his hall of fame candidacy has never been in question, even in an era with inflated statistics due to steroid use. Jim Thome finished his career with 612 HR (8th all time), a .276 BA, and an .956 OPS, he was apart of the Cleveland Indian team that won 6 AL Central crowns, as well as 2 AL Pennants, Jim Thome has the most walk-off HRs in MLB history and ranks 7th in postseason HRs. Those are Hall of Fame numbers no matter which way you spin it, but that’s not the reason I wrote this blog, anyone with google can look up Jim Thome’s statistics and see why he deserves to be a Hall of famer. The real reason I wrote this blog is because I love Jim Thome, he is my favorite athlete to ever play sports, not just baseball but any sport. Most people would probably say their favorite athlete is someone who you see on TV all the time, the Michael Jordans, the Lebron James, the Derek Jeters of the world, people who have national exposure, but not me.
Heres a little story, when I was in 3rd or 4th grade we were working on writing letters, so we got an assignment to write a letter to our favorite celebrity. This would have been around 2003-2004, and at the time I lived in upstate New York. So my class mates were all writing to big celebrities at the time, Derek Jeter, Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez, Brittney Speers, people with giant national followings. If you couldn’t guess where this was going, I wrote to Jim Thome, at this time he was a Philly but I remember the address I sent the letter too was somewhere in Illinois the state he was born. So a few weeks went by, and people started getting generic thank you notes from the people they wrote too or people weren’t hearing back at all from the celebrities that they reached out too at all. Then one day something came for me in the mail, I can’t remember if it came to the school or to my house but either way as a 10 year old I wasn’t used to getting mail so you can imagine I was pretty excited. When I opened it up, it was from Jim Thome, and it was signed baseball cards, memorabilia and a letter from him thanking me for writing him. I don’t remember much from that time in my life but I remember how excited I was that Jim Thome responded to my letter. It could have been anyone who wrote back but just the fact that he sent me something meant that I would idolize him forever.
Next you might be wondering how someone from upstate NY, an area with mainly Yankees and Mets fans would end up being a Jim Thome fan. My grandfather lived in the Cleveland area most of my life, and he was a big time Indians fan, and when ever we would go visit I would watch the Indians with him or we would go to an Indians game. But even that you may say might not be enough to turn someone into a Jim Thome fan, especially when you throw in the rest of my family are Yankees fans. But it was more than just the fact that my Grandpa was an Indians fan, it was the fact that whenever Jim Thome would have a good game or there was an article written about him in the paper he would cut it out and send it to me. Again being a kid I would light up when I would get a letter from my grandpa, and Jim Thome was something that me and him shared. Even after Jim left the Indians and went to the Phillies and White Sox, etc., he would cut out Spring Training articles, or any article he could find on Thome and send them too me. He would write me a little note along with the cut out new paper article about Jim Thome.
Also as Jim was drifting around the league in his later years, my Dad would always take me to games he was playing in because he knew how much I loved watching him play and following his career. I’ve seen games where Jim hit multiple HRs and games where he had a golden sombrero (4 K’s) and I tried to fight my brothers. In the past few years I have gotten back into baseball more and following baseball, but I think the reason I stopped is because I wasn’t following the sport as much as I was the player. When I played baseball I wore number 25 because of Jim Thome, my favorite number is 25 because of Jim Thome. Jim Thome was a big part of my child hood and the fact that he is a first ballot hall of famer makes me damn happy.