Aug 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; The newly unveiledJim Thome
statue before the game between the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Thome was one of the most prolific power-hitters in Cleveland Indians’ history and became a beloved member of those dynamic teams in the 1990s.
After seven consecutive seasons with a losing record, the Tribe finally gave Thome a full-time job in 1994. His presence was felt immediately, as David Kazzie of The Cavalier Daily wrote:
"A new ballpark and a few offseason acqusitions coupled with rising young stars have made the Indians legitimate contenders in the brand-new American League Central."
Thome was a cog in the Tribe’s core of offensive players, including Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Eddie Murray. The Indians held the wild card spot in the AL and were one game behind the Chicago White Sox in the division before the players’ strike forced a cancellation of the season’s remaining games. Thome hit .268 during the first season, clubbing 20 home runs with 52 RBIs in just 98 games.
Then the 1995 season came and the Tribe’s newfound success finally led them to a playoff berth. Thome was among the team leaders in seemingly every offensive category, hitting .314/.438/.558 with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs. Cleveland won 100 games that season, but eventually lost in the World Series to the Atlanta Braves.
During the 1996 season, Thome hit 38 home runs, including a 511-foot monster shot at Jacob’s Field, the longest home run ever at the ballpark. That shot was memorialized in 2014 with a bronzed statue of the beloved Tribe legend, joining Feller as the only Indians honored with their own statue.
Over 13 seasons with the Indians, including his return in 2011, Thome hit .287 with 337 home runs and 937 RBIs. He is the Tribe’s all-time leader in home runs and walks (1,008) and ranks second behind Averill in RBIs.
Thome officially retired a Cleveland Indian in Aug. 2014 and will undoubtedly find himself in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame soon.
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