Jim Thome returns to the Philadelphia Phillies this spring to join a rotation of first base substitutes for injured slugger Ryan Howard.
Thome, who had played for the Phillies from 2003 through 2005, was traded to the White Sox just days after Pat Gillick took over the reins as the Phillies GM. Thome was considered expendable because of the emergence of Howard, and was traded along with twenty-two million dollars for Aaron Rowand and young pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood.
Thome has accumulated prolific numbers in his twenty-one year career in the major leagues. Jim, now 41 years of age, became the eighth player in major league history to blast 600 home runs, accomplishing the feat during the 2011 season. However, unlike the last three players to have exceeded the 600 mark, Thome, for all indications, has come upon the mark cleanly.
Thome, whose name has never appeared on the Mitchell Report, or on any other suspicion list, is known for his extraordinary work ethic and his enormous strength. Said Thome, “The strongest thing I put into my body is steak and eggs. I just eat. I’m not a supplement guy. Steroids are not even a thought.”
“Coming back to Philadelphia was a no-brainer,” said Thome, “I think the Phillies have set the bar very high in baseball. This is as good a place in baseball right now to be in.” Jim has been extremely close with manager Charlie Manuel throughout his career. Manuel was Thome’s batting coach in Cleveland.
Upon Thome’s re-signing with the Phillies, Charlie stated, “Everyone knows my relationship with Jimmy, but he’s not here because of that. He’s here to contribute to our team in a positive way, on and off the field.”
It is off the field that Jim Thome, one of the real gentlemen of baseball, has also left an indelible mark. He was so popular in Cleveland that he was named “The most popular athlete in Cleveland sports history” by a poll in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
In over two decades, Thome has produced astounding numbers which include 1566 runs scored, 2287 hits, a .277 batting average, 444 doubles, 604 home runs, 1674 RBIs, 1725 walks, a .556 slugging percentage and an OPS of .959.
“The Thomenator” ranks fifth on the all time at bats per home run in history. Thome’s mark of one home run every 13.68 at bats trails only Mark McGwire at 10.61, Babe Ruth at 11.76, teammate Ryan Howard at 12.16 and Barry Bonds at 12.90. Thome is ahead of, in order, with all of the following over 14 at bats per home run, Ralph Kiner, Harmon Killebrew, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jimmy Foxx and Mike Schmidt.