“Big Jim” Thome proved he is one of the great power-hitters of all
time (and a dead-lock for the MLB Hall of Fame) by crushing two “Thomenator”
caliber home runs in two consecutive at-bats on Monday, August 15th
against Central League Division rivals The Detroit Tigers to vault himself into the elite 600 HOME RUN CLUB.
Thome, who hit his 599th home run the
previous inning off of starter Rick Porcello, took a 2-1 pitch 360 feet to left
field, landing in the Tigers' bullpen. He is the eighth player in major league
history to hit 600 career home runs.
"It's an unbelievable night, obviously," said a
champagne-drenched Thome. "I think it's something you never dream of
doing. You dream about it, but when it finally happens, it's kind of surreal.
It's a neat thing, it really is."
When No. 600 went
over the fence, the history-loving crowd in Detroit came to its feet to applaud
the man, if not the effect on the box score. They realized that Thome had achieved an amazing feat in
hitting #600…one that only eight hitters out of the estimated 17,000 men who
have played the game since its inception have ever achieved. Only seven sluggers have hit more
homers than the Paul Bunyon-esque
Thome: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr.,
Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.
A-Rod, who joined
the 600-homer club last August, needed two weeks to hit No. 600 after reaching
599 last year. Thome waited one inning.
Only Babe Ruth needed fewer at-bats to reach 600, doing so in 6,921.
Thome's milestone came in No. 8,167.
Coming in September – A Look Inside 600…Jim Thome’s Journey
When Jim Thome hit his 500th Home Run for the Chicago
White Sox on September 16, 2007, some baseball pundits predicted that the
Peoria, IL-born slugger had reached the pinnacle of his career, and would soon
be headed back to the cornfields and deer hunting grounds that he emerged from
37 years earlier. But “The
Thomenator” has proved his critics wrong and made his many fans (especially in
Chicago and Minnesota) stand up and cheer 100 more times (and counting).
An all around great hitter, Thome has made a 19-year
career out of being one of the nicest guys in the clubhouse and among the
smartest at the plate as he continued his workman-like approach by getting
clutch singles, doubles, (not quite as few triples) and homers when they
counted most for the Twins, Dodgers, White Sox, Phillies, Indians (in reverse
order). He's a career .277 hitter
with a lifetime on-base percentage of .403. So he’s not a swing-for-the-bleachers-every-trip-to-the-plate kinda guy.
And he’s not one to seek attention or pose in the media
spotlight, much preferring to attribute his long and lustrous career to his
teammates, coaches, wife/family and God-given talent (not necessarily in that
order). So it’s no surprise
that the Minnesota Twins are sticking with him for moments like the sixth
inning on July 17th against the Royals when, with the game tied and his team in
desperate need of a jolt, Thome clobbered one of his signature deep fly balls
into the upper deck of right-center field for his 596th home run – and in doing
so lifting the Twins to a 4-3 victory before a small but boisterous Target
Afterward Thome brushed off reporters’ questions about
his pending 600 HR milestone in his characteristically nonchalant way saying
"It's always special," Thome said. "That feeling you want to
kind of last forever. It went out, it put us ahead. And that's No. 1."
And while many feel Thome hasn’t received the recognition
he deserves for a lifetime of stellar achievements on and off the field (see
Jim Thome's Quest for 600)
the big man himself is truly at piece with his life in and out of baseball. “My dad told me, 'It's not what
you do when you walk in the door that matters. It's what you do when you walk
out.' That's when you've made a lasting impression.” And Jim continues to make a lasting impression with every
no-nonsense head down, I’m-just-doing-my-job trip around the bases.
Pretty soon it will be his
600th and that will really be something to see.