Thome met by teammates upon reflective return to Progressive Field

Hall of Famer happy to 'be a teammate again'

Alex Hooper
August 18, 2018 - 2:03 pm
Aug 11, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Former Chicago White Sox player and Hall of Famer Jim Thome jokes with Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona during a ceremony before a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians at Guaranteed Rate Fiel

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Players in the midst of their careers rarely have the time or desire to reflect on their time in the Major Leagues.

Since his Hall of Fame call in January, reflecting is just about all Jim Thome has been able to do.

Saturday will be the culmination of his time in Cleveland, as the Indians’ all-time home run leader and only living Hall of Famer (as a member of the Tribe) will be honored pre-game. His number is expected to be retired, living barely in fair territory of the upper deck in Progressive Field, where he seemed to be aiming with every towering home run.

Of course, for maybe the nicest person in all of baseball, the tour has been about everyone but himself.

“I mean, the organizations that have -- we've had the celebrations for and coming here today, we did some stuff this morning, and being able to thank everyone, and show your appreciation truly what it's all about,” Thome told reporters Friday. “You know, like, in my speech there were so many people in the organizations that I played for that you could thank, but what I think this does, it really gives me the chance to isolate the people I care about I care about that I didn't thank in the big speech that I can do.”

That sentiment of course extends to his teammates, many of whom will be in attendance. Thome spent 30 minutes talking to Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar prior to Friday’s game against another former Thome team, the Baltimore Orioles.

The bond between the two is eternal.

“This guy invited me in,” Thome said. “He was my first big league roommate and he took me under his wing.

“That's kind of how our teams in the '90s were -- we were all brothers, and even though you retire, you move on, you kind of go about your life when you get back together, like the minute you see [Carlos] Baerga you realize that the energy level rises. And it's like old times. That's the fun part. You get to be a teammate again to what we all shared something special.”

The best part about reflecting fondly on your career? Having no regrets. Thome said he would not change a thing if he could somehow travel back in time.

“All the people, all the instructors, from Charlie Manuel to Johnny Goryl to Dave Keller to Brian Graham to Mike Hargrove, Buddy Bell,” he said. “All the great instructors we had here and to go through that journey again with them. I would have thanked them and did the same thing with them along the way.

“I always talk about the mirror, it never lies to you. You look in the mirror, you know when you’re becoming a big leaguer, then you know when you’re not. To me, that mirror always tells you who you are and where you have to go. That was the best part.”