Considered by many to be one of the most productive sluggers (and finest gentlemen) in MLB history, James Howard “Big Jim” Thome has spent the last 18 MLB seasons doing one thing better than perhaps any other player during the same span: quietly making opposing pitchers very nervous.
Now, after more than three seasons as White Sox DH, where he has
been steadily stomping up the all-time home run list (he recently
passed Reggie Jackson) Thome has taken his 564 career home runs (12th
spot), .560 slugging percentage, and a .406 on-base percentage to the
City of Angels…where he is reunited with long time friend, teammate and
fellow 500 Home Run Club® member Manny Ramirez.
Editor’s Note: Only three times in history have two active members
of The 500 Home Run Club® played together on the same team – and Thome
was in two of those three pairings. Big Jim and Ken Griffey, Jr.
shared the Chicago White Sox locker room during the second half of the
2008 season, and now he is reunited with Manny Ramirez in L.A. The
first duo to join forces for a team after surpassing the 500 career
home run mark were the un-retired Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro who
played together for the 2005 Orioles.
“Big Jim” will provide a potent left-handed power threat off the
bench, something the Dodgers have lacked this season. With a .910 OPS
against right-handed pitching this season, and a homer every 14 at-bat,
his DH experience could prove invaluable if the Dodgers make it to the
World Series, which Thome has stated is his last remaining career
goal. “The ultimate drive should be to win the World Series,” Thome
was quoted as saying just days before being traded. “Especially when
you get the opportunity to go and you don’t accomplish it, as we did in
the 90s (with the Cleveland Indians).”
Kenny Williams, Chicago’s south side GM said “The man [Thome] has
always expressed to me that personal accolades are not as important as
ultimately getting a [championship] ring, so ... he made a decision [to
waive his no-trade clause], and I told him ... I would support him in
anything he wanted to do and I let him go."
Of course, becoming only the seventh player in MLB history to his 600 or more long balls wouldn’t be too bad either.
“Hopefully my experience playing inter league will help us
[Dodgers] in September and October,” Thome said. “I dream of winning a
World Series and hitting 600 homers.”
Well he’s definitely in the right place to take a shot at achieving
the first of his two remaining career goals. The Dodgers are one of
the hottest teams in baseball. In his first plate appearance since
being acquired from The Chicago White Sox on August 31st, Thome
acknowledged the standing ovation of the suddenly very friendly Los
Angeles crowd and promptly hit a laser beam single in his first at-bat
for his new team, The LA Dodgers.
So what’s in the future for “Big Jim”?“Obviously I would love to go back to Chicago,” Thome said during on
ESPN radio. “But I never wanted to look back and know the Dodgers had
a opportunity to go to the WS. If they would had won it, and I could
have been with them…it would have been a tough thing for me.”
“The last four years have been among the most special that I’ve had
because it gave our family a chance to be close together. So at some
point, maybe after the season, we will sit down [with CWS GM Kenny
William]. I’m going to be free agent and I’m going to go back to the
American League and DH. So I would love to come back to Chicago [to
finish his career and pursue 600 homers as a DH].”