'Hall of Fame Person' Thome celebrated for personality

Former Indians slugger noted for kindness as much as baseball prowess

Alex Hooper
July 29, 2018 - 5:26 pm
Jul 29, 2018; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Fame inductees Vladimir Guerrero, Tevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Jim Thome pose with their Hall of Fame Plaques at Clark Sports Center.

© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Former Cleveland Indians Manager Charlie Manuel said of newly minted Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Thome what everyone was thinking on Sunday.

He is a ‘Hall of Fame person.’

On a day where Thome took his allotted time at the microphone to thank everybody in his career – fans, opponents, and the communities in which he played – one of the most prolific sluggers in baseball history was celebrated for his kind, humble nature.

Even if friendships were bonded in less than friendly circumstances.

Fellow inductee Chipper Jones told the story of the man he referred to as ‘buddy’ multiple times, during a benches-clearing brawl in a 1993 Triple-A game between the Charlotte Knights and Richmond Braves.

Jones said he felt ‘the hand of God’ grab him around the neck, it just so happened that it was the hand of a future baseball immortal.

“’Don’t move,’” he recounted Thome as saying. “We have been buddies ever since.”

As if the fight was not enough, Jones recalled his victory in the 1995 World Series during his rookie year with the Atlanta Braves, in which they defeated Thome’s Indians. Yet Jones made sure to slip in a quick ‘Sorry, Jim,’ before moving on.

Such is the effect of knowing Thome. Even when you were rivals, even during a fight, he still found a way to befriend you for life.

Also, such was the ethos of one of the game’s nicest heroes. Before finishing his speech, Thome noted that the experience was not about the end result, rather the journey to get there. He detailed the route by which to travel.

“Ask other people about themselves, you never know what you might learn,” Thome said. “Treat people with respect.

“If you try to conduct yourself with authenticity and honesty, the end result is one of the most natural highs a human being can have,” he added.

Manuel, in attendance at Cooperstown, also introduced his former pupil via a video vignette. The presentation detailed Thome the man, who the former manager thanked for helping him ‘just being around him and just being dedicated like he was.’

“I remember all those years he played for me and the good times we had together, and of course how great his career was,” Manuel said, “and also how good a person he really is.

“I’m very proud of him.”

Broadcasting the day’s events, MLB Network’s panel of Greg Amsinger, Mark DeRosa, Sean Casey and Harold Reynolds even get on the action.

As Thome was taking a photo with his plaque, Casey, a former teammate of Thome in Cleveland, remarked that you could not find a nicer person than Jim.

“If you’re nicer than Thome, you’re awkward,” Amsinger quipped.