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Cooperstown Bound: Jim Thome elected into Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Umphrey

Considered a lock in his first year of eligibility, former Cleveland Indians slugger Jim Thome is headed to Cooperstown. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first (and only) year on the ballot, the Baseball Writers of America announced Wednesday night. The five-time All-Star received 379 votes, good for 89.8 percent of the ballots casted.1

A 13th-round draft pick out of Illinois State College in 1989, the Indians originally brought the slugger up as a third baseman. When the club acquired third baseman Matt Williams in 1997, Thome was moved to first base. There was no looking back.

In his 22 years in the MLB, 13 were spent in Cleveland. The left-handeder took awhile to get going,2 but once he got his groove, the power stayed with him for almost two decades. During his 13 years with the Indians, Thome had a .287/.414/.566 slash line (152 OPS+) with 337 home runs, 937 RBIs, and 264 doubles in 4,711 at-bats.

He hit 20 or more home runs 16 times and 40 or more six different seasons. ((Five of the six seasons happened between 2001-06.)) Thome also hit the longest home run in Progressive Field history after driving a ball 511 feet on July 3, 1999 against the Kansas City Royals. That 511-foot mark where the ball landed happens to be where his statue sits at the stadium.

Over his 22-year career, he slugged 612 home runs, which is eighth on the all-time list. He is only of only five players in MLB history to total at least 500 homers, 1,500 runs, 1,600 RBI and 1,700 walks. Lover of the big moment, Thome hit 17 postseason home runs and 13 walk-off dingers during his 22 years in the MLB.

WFNY’s own Michael Bode fills you in on just how good Thome was during his career, especially during his time with the Indians.

Although he spent nine of his 22 years in the league away from Cleveland, the slugger will likely be donning an Indians cap in the Hall of Fame. Here’s a breakdown of his stats with all five teams he played with during his career, courtesy of sportslogos.net.

 

Thome is the first Indians player to make it to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot since Bob Feller did so in 1962.

He was one of four players elected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were the others. That makes two former MVPs, a member of the 600-home run club, and who’s name is now used to award the National League’s best reliever every year.

In July, the four newest inductees will join both Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were elected by the veterans committee in December, in Cooperstown, when the six are will officially be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony.

Unfortunately, former Indians legends Omar Vizquel and Manny Ramirez were not elected this year, but still have a chance in the future after receiving enough votes. Here’s the breakdown of former Indians players and the votes they received from MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian:

Thome used to point his bat in the direction he wanted the ball to travel off his bat prior to every pitch, but looking back, he may have been pointing in the direction of Cooperstown, New York, where his baseball career will ultimately end up.

  1. A player only needs 75 percent to be elected. []
  2. he hit just 10 home runs during his first three seasons in the league from 1991-93 []