Thome Statue Represents an Era of Success and Need for More
Mike B. | On 27, Jan 2014
The Cleveland Indians opened TribeFest on Saturday morning by announcing the Jim Thome statue will be unveiled on Aug. 2 at Progressive Field.
Like when the statue was announced originally, fans’ opinions about the statue are wide ranging. Some fans seem still to have not forgiven Thome for leaving for greener pastures with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2002 season. Others seem in protest of the statue because they feel there are other deserving players. Finally, most fans seem excited about honoring Thome and the era of Indians baseball he represents.
Thome admitted Saturday morning that he’s seen the statue twice and is amazed at its size and what it represents.
“It’s much bigger than all of us,” Thome said. “What’s going to be cool is that it will stay. I mean like, now, in the snow. I always look at Bob Feller’s statue and, No. 1, you appreciate the player, but the fact that it’s up all year and people can come see it.”
Thome’s right; his statue will be timeless and something fans will be able to see for future generations to come. And why some people have a problem with that seems perplexing. Thome is seventh on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run list and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. Even in the Steroid Era where the bar seems a bit higher, suspicion is raised quickly and numbers are questioned, Thome appears to be a safe bet to be elected on the first ballot. In case that wasn’t enough, Thome is the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs. He’s the Indians’ Babe Ruth, why wouldn’t you want to honor him with a statue?
But Thome also represents, for most, the best era of Indians baseball in their life. Thome made his MLB debut in 1991 and didn’t leave Cleveland until after 2002. He was a member of every playoff team during the John Hart-era of teams. Only he, Omar Vizquel, Sandy Alomar and Charles Nagy can stake claim to that title. The Thome statue becomes a representation of that entire era and all those teams from 1994-2001. Sadly, enough years have passed that children of that era are now having children of their own. We’ll be able to point to that statue and tell them not just Thome’s stories of home runs in the World Series, but also tales of Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga and many more.
And lastly, another faction of people feel instead of Thome, a statue of Larry Doby or other deserving Indians should be rectified. I partially agree.
Many newer ballparks than Progressive Field, like AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco and Busch Stadium in St. Louis, pay homage to players from several eras with statues all around the ballpark. The Baltimore Orioles and Camden Yards unveiled several statues two seasons ago. Thome deserves a statue, but so does Doby and maybe Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Frank Robinson, Lou Boudreau or Mel Harder. Other parks have statues all around ballpark so that fans can learn about the long-storied history of their franchise. While one can argue Bob Feller is the franchise’s greatest Indian, he certainly is not the only one.
The same is true with Thome. He deserves a statue to represent an amazing generation of baseball. If you feel other players are deserving of the honor, too, share your feedback with the organization. I think the Indians listen to their fans and consider all opinions better than any other sports franchise in this town. Encourage more statues!
But make no mistake, Thome deserves a statue.
Photo: Associated Press