Admission to the 500 Home Run Club is quite clear. The numbers speak eloquently for themselves.Yet the men whose career slugging totals qualify for this elite fraternity, by and large, also represent the true meaning of sportsmanship, humility, altruism and community service.
Their legacies go beyond the numbers.
White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome could not be a better example. The left-handed slugger launched the 536th homer of his career on August 30, tying him with legendary New York Yankees Hall of Fame centerfielder Mickey Mantle.
Three days earlier,Thome and his father traveled to
N.Y. to personally deliver the ball he hit for his 500th career homer late last season.
"We talk about it all the time, the history of the game, and what those guys have done," Thome said with true humility "To be a part of that is just really hard to talk about. Because when you throw Mickey Mantle's name around, that's probably one of the greatest home run hitters of all time, for sure.
"It's special to hit a home run whenever you win a game, but to tie Mickey Mantle is really, really special."
The homer tied Thome for 14th on the all-time list.
"Every home run he hits is a milestone, but I think he's worried more about us winning than his milestones," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Thome’s unselfishness extends to the off-the-field community, as well. He and teammate Paul Konerko, along with their respective wives Andrea and Jennifer, are totally committed to helping the Children’s Home +Aid program for foster children in
“I am always glad to help out people who are less fortunate,” said Thome. “Our family is blessed with a new baby during the off-season and I know the value of a strong family.”
While Thome epitomizes the spirit of an active player in the 500 Home Run Club, there are many others- active and retired- who devote their time, money and energy to worthwhile causes. And that message is what makes this exclusive club even more special.