Countdown Thome’s Greatest Moments: #6-10

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.

Moments:     #11-15     #16-20     #21-25

#10 July 21, 2001 – Bob Feller. Lou Boudreau. Larry Doby. Napoleon Lajoie. Hall of famers all, and all part of the Indians’ 100th anniversary all-time roster. The list also included some future hall of famers, like Roberto Alomar. Jim Thome could be enshrined in the halls of Cooperstown. He was also on that list, recognized as one of the top 100 players in team history – and voted on by the fans to be the starting first baseman, confirming that in addition to his talent, Thome was also beloved by the fans – and his peers, who in 2010, named him the nicest player in the major leagues in a Sports Illustrated poll.

#9 Aug. 27, 2011 – The rumors started to spread on the Internet, on the radio and on television: The Indians, in the thick of a pennant race, had put in a waiver claim on Jim Thome. It had been nine years since he’d donned a Tribe uniform, but the atmosphere downtown was electric, as one of the last links to those powerful 1990s teams had come home. In his second game back, Thome crushed a pitch off Royals starter Danny Duffy for a solo home run in the sixth inning. It was Jim Thome’s 41st birthday.

#8 Oct. 9, 1998 – The Indians and Yankees were tied at one win apiece as the 1998 American League Championship Series came to Cleveland. Thome became the second Indians player ever to hit two home runs in a postseason game as the Tribe teed off on Andy Pettitte, leading to one of the most brutally honest openings to a news conference ever, when Yankees manager Joe Torre sat at the microphone and said, “Well, we pretty much got our ass kicked tonight.” In addition to Thome’s dingers, Manny Ramirez (the only other Tribe player to hit two home runs in a postseason game) and hard-hittin’ Mark Whiten homered, and Bartolo Colon became the first Indians pitcher to throw a complete game in the postseason since Bob Lemon in the 1954 World Series.

#7 May 29, 2001 – The Tigers, hosting Cleveland, were in their second year at new Comerica Park, and mired in mediocrity. The Indians were in a fight for the American League Central title. Leading off the top of the fourth, Thome swung at a 1-0 pitch from Victor Santos, and put it into the seats to tie the game at 2. Marty Cordova, the next batter, also homered, giving the Indians a lead. The Tribe would go on to win 6-4, but the home run by Thome was the 243rd in his career, passing Albert Belle and making him the team’s all-time leader in home runs, a mark he still holds.

#6 Sept. 27, 2002 – In 1995, Albert Belle set the Indians record with 50 home runs in a season. He broke the record set by Al Rosen in 1953. Belle’s mark would only stand for seven years when Jim Thome hit his 51st home run off Wes Obermueller of the Royals. It would be the second club home run record he took from Belle. Thome would finish with 52 home runs in 2002 – still a club record. Oddly enough, 42 of those home runs came in the last 99 games of the season, his final in his first tour with the Indians. He also led the team with a .304 batting average and 118 RBI.



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