Jim Thome has a reputation. And, unlike so many sluggers in the big leagues, his reputation is a good one. He is known for being a relatively calm influence in the clubhouse and known for his dedication to the game and his teammates. Most teams that have had him on their roster offer only glowing reviews of his performance on and off the field.
That does not mean the man isn't a powerhouse. The fact remains
that Jim Thome is likely to go down in baseball history as one of the
best sluggers the game has ever known. He has played for a number of
teams during his career and, in each case, he has left an impression
that has caused fans and management to admire him.
Thome is originally from Peoria, Illinois, and he made his mark
and his name in the big leagues by slugging out the homers for the
Cleveland Indians between 1991-2002. He then moved over to the Phillies
from 2003-2005. He was with the White Sox from 2006-2009, then the L.A.
Dodgers, back to the Indians and, now, back to the Phillies. During that
career he has amassed 605 home runs, 2,295 hits, 1,677 RBI and 2,500
The thing is that Thome is 41-years-old. That is a time when
most baseball players are looking to retire. But baseball just seems to
be so ingrained in Thome's character that retirement seems out of the
question. It was questionable where he would end up, or if he would
play, in 2012, and then in November of 2011 he signed a one year $1.25
million deal to play with the Phillies. Since the Phillies already had a
first baseman, and Thome had been playing as DH for the Indians prior
to this, it seemed like Thome would be used sparingly.
Then, the unthinkable happened. Ryan Howard, the Phillies'
first baseman, got himself injured. Suddenly, Thome was back at the
plate and playing first base. Now the question is, will his time
playing, while Howard recovers from his injury, give him the chance to
pass Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list?
Sosa's record currently stands at 609 home runs for his entire
career. Thome currently has 605. You can see that this means the slugger
need only hit five home runs to surpass the former Chicago Cubs
outfielder. Of course, there also remains the fact that Thome's career
is free of the controversy that has visited Sosa's, as Sosa has often
been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs to accomplish his
impressive record numbers.
As for Thome, he continues to do what he always does. He
continues to try and be a calming force in the Phillies' clubhouse. When
asked about this opportunity, he says he is only there to fill in for
Ryan Howard, while Howard recovers from his injuries. In fact, for the
most part, the Phillies are a young team, filled with hope, and Thome
says he respects that. He has told the press he is only there to help
the team win.
That may be the case. However, there must be some part of him,
at the back of his mind, who knows that he could use this opportunity to
further cement his legacy and mark him as one of the greatest sluggers
that the game of baseball has ever known. With an injury, he may really
get that opportunity, and the record currently held by Sosa could go
down something during 2012.