Countdown Thome’s 25 Greatest Moments: #21-25
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. Let’s countdown the first five:
#25: Oct. 4, 1991 – The one that started it all. Jim Thome was drafted by the Indians in the 13th round of the 1989 amateur draft. Two years later, he was making his major league debut, on Sept. 4, 1991, going 2-for-4 at the plate and playing third base. A month later, he hit his first home run, and couldn’t have picked a better place and time to do it. The Tribe was playing at Yankee Stadium, a cathedral of baseball (which was later ripped down to build a shopping mall of baseball), and were down 2-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth before Thome teed off on Steve Farr, hitting what turned out to be a game-winning two-run home run.
#24: July 13, 1999 — For all of Jim Thome’s on-field exploits, his resume is surprisingly thin when it comes to the All-Star Game. Thome was named to only five teams. In 1999, he was one of four Indians (along with Kenny Lofton, Robbie Alomar and Manny Ramirez) elected to start the 70th Midsummer Classic, at Fenway Park. After Pedro Martinez set down Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa on 12 pitches (he would go on to get the win, becoming the first American Leaguer to be the winning pitcher in an All-Star Game in his home park), the AL came up to bat. Kenny Lofton hit a leadoff single and stole second, and Ramirez walked. Thome came up with two on and two out, and singled to shallow left field off Curt Schilling, scoring Lofton. In the bottom of the fourth, Thome walked, and Cal Ripken Jr. got hit by a pitch. Rafael Palmeiro singled through the right side of the infield, and Thome scored. His hit and RBI in the AL’s 4-1 win that year are the only ones he’s gotten in All-Star play, and he scored one other run, the year before.
#23: Aug. 5, 2001 – The Indians got down early, 12-0, to the Mariners. Thome hit what appeared to be a two-run homer in the fourth to make it 12-2, and then hit a solo blast in the eighth to pull the Indians within eight, 14-6. As it turned out, every run counted, as the Indians ended up winning 15-14 in extras, and it was one of 48 multi-homer games by Thome.
#22: July 3, 1999 – Jim Thome has had the distinction of playing for three teams while they opened new ballparks: The Twins at Target Field in 2010, the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in 2004, and the Indians at Jacobs Field in 1994. He still holds the mark at what is now called Progressive Field, after hitting a 511-foot moon shot to center field that landed on Eagle Avenue, off of Don Wengert of the Royals in the second game of a doubleheader.
#21: Sept. 5, 2010 – Did we mention that Thome also holds the mark for longest home run at Target Field too? He crushed an offering from Royals pitcher Sean O’Sullivan to straightaway right field, traveling an estimated 480 feet before hitting the top of the flagpole in right field.