Countdown Thome’s Greatest Moments: #1-5
Vince Guerrieri | On 02, Aug 2014
He’s regarded as one of the nicest people in baseball. But as beloved as Jim Thome might be off the field, he’s still feared on it. From his arrival in Cleveland as a raw third baseman with a powerful bat to his sojourns in Philadelphia, L.A., the South Side of Chicago and Minnesota, Thome’s had more than his share of his most memorable moments. We’ve selected the 25 biggest moments in Thome’s career.
#5 Aug. 17, 2010 – Jim Thome comes up in the bottom of the 10th. The Twins trail the White Sox 6-5, with a man on first. The gleam is still on Target Field, opened earlier that year as the Twins’ new home park. Thome leans in against Matt Thornton, who tries to blow a fastball by him. Thome launches it into the seats in right field, arcing high toward the foul pole, for the first game-winning home run in Target Field history. The White Sox begin to fade, and the Twins race toward the division – the ninth time Thome would be part of a Division champion. It’s Thome’s 581st career home run, and 12th walk-off home run, tying him for first all-time with Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth.
#4 Sept. 16, 2007 – Bottom of the ninth, one on, nobody out, the White Sox and Angels are tied at 7 at a game at U.S. Cellular Field. Up steps Jim Thome, who crushes a pitch off Dustin Moseley for a game-winning home run. It was also Thome’s 500th home run, and he became the first slugger ever to reach the milestone with a walk-off home run.
#3 Sept. 30, 2008 – For two years in a row, the winner of the American League Central had to be determined by a one-game tiebreaker. The first year was 2008, when the White Sox played the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. Chicago’s John Danks and Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn were both throwing goose eggs up on the scoreboard, and Jim Thome led off the bottom of the seventh. With the count 2-2, he crushed a towering shot to straightaway center field to put the White Sox on the board 1-0 – which would go on to be the final score of the game, as the White Sox advanced to the American League Division Series, where they lost the series 3-1 to eventual pennant winner Tampa Bay. The Twins found themselves playing a tie-breaker game the next year as well, at home at the Metrodome against the Tigers, winning 6-5 in 12 innings.
#2 Oct. 26, 1995 – The 1995 Indians had one of the most fear-inspiring lineups in Major League Baseball, but against the Atlanta Braves, they were stymied, falling behind three games to one. Thome came up in Game 5 against reliever Brad Clontz and worked the count full before crushing a ball 436 feet to straightaway center field. It proved to be the margin of victory in a 5-4 Indians win, sending the World Series back to Atlanta. It was also Jim Thome’s first World Series home run. “That’s the only time I ever watched a home run, at least purposely,” he said later.
#1 Aug. 15, 2011 – It took Alex Rodriguez nearly two weeks after he hit his 599th home run to reach 600. It took Jim Thome about half an hour. Thome became the first player ever to hit his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, against the Detroit Tigers. Thome took starter Rick Porcello deep in the sixth inning, and then in the seventh, facing reliever Daniel Schlereth, he hit another home run to become the eighth man in major league history to hit 600 dingers.
Photo: Dave Reginek/Getty Images