Childhood & Early Life
Jim Thome was born on August 27, 1970, in Peoria, Illinois, United States, into a proletarian family of athletes.
His grandfather, Chuck Sr., played baseball in the minor leagues. The legacy was continued by Jim’s father and aunt. His aunt, Carolyn, who was a fast-pitch softball player, was inducted into the ‘National Softball Hall of Fame’ in 1966.
Jim’s father, Chuck Thome, worked as a foreman who built bulldozers at ‘Caterpillar Industries Inc.,’ and played fast-pitch softball for the organization.
Jim Thome attended ‘Limestone High School,’ in Bartonville, Peoria County. He graduated in 1988, receiving All-State recognition in both basketball and baseball.
After finishing high school, Thome joined ‘Illinois Central College,’ where he established a name for himself in basketball and baseball.
The ‘National Junior College Athletic Association’ honored Thome by naming him an ‘All-American (baseball),’ a special feat for young, emerging players.
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Jim Thome’s career started in 1989, when he was assigned to Cleveland Indians’ rookie level team.
Thome worked hard on his game with the then ‘Indians’ coach, Charlie Manuel, and established himself as a strong prospect for the big leagues.
On 4th September 1991, he made his Major League debut for ‘Cleveland Indians,’ playing as a third baseman.
Initially, Thome played mostly for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliates, like the ‘Colorado Springs Sky Sox’ and ‘Charlotte Knights,’ during 1992 and 1993 seasons. In 1993, while playing for the ‘Charlotte Knights’ he hit 25 home runs with a .332 batting average, and earned himself a spot in the major league.
The ‘Cleveland Indians’ came up with a reinvigorated squad in 1994, and the powerhouses like Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle and Sandy Alomar Jr., along with Jim Thome, produced a good overall performance and helped the ‘Indians’ grasp the wild card spot in the ‘American League.’
It was in 1995 when the ‘Cleveland Indians’ had their major successful run. Thome was a star player throughout the season, hitting 25 home runs and 73 RBIs with an average of .314, and contributed significantly towards the team’s victory of the ‘American League Championship.’ Though ‘Indians’ failed to win the world series, Thome became a household name in the country.
The ‘Cleveland Indians’ won the division title again in 1996, where Thome hit 38 home runs and 116 RBIs.
In 1997, Thome was moved from third baseman to first baseman. He scored the highest home runs for the team, 40, and had second highest RBIs, 102. The ‘Cleveland Indians’ became the American League Champions in that season but lost the World Series to the ‘Florida Marlins.’
Jim Thome continued his association with the ‘Cleveland Indians’ till 2002, post which he signed a deal with the ‘Philadelphia Phillies.’
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Thome played for the ‘Philadelphia Phillies’ from 2003 to 2005. He made a mark straight away by scoring 47 home runs, second highest in the franchise record list, and 131 RBIs, in his first season with the club.
The year 2005 was a difficult one for Thome, both emotionally as well as professionally. His mother, Joyce Thome, died of lung cancer. Thome later said in his mother’s remembrance, “She was the rock, the foundation of the family.” Thome also suffered from elbow and back injuries which restricted his run in the season to only 59 games. Later that year he was traded to the ‘Chicago White Sox.’
Thome started his ‘White Sox’ journey in 2006 and was one of the best players of the season. He hit 42 home runs, totaled 109 runs and batted .288. Thome’s outstanding performance throughout the season was widely acknowledged, and he was named the ‘The Comeback Player of the Year’ by ‘The Sporting News’ and ‘Major League Baseball.’
On 16th September 2007, Thome was playing his 2000th big league game. On this special occasion Thome hit his 500th home run, which was also a match winning stroke.
Credit to Thome’s home run in the tiebreaker match against the ‘Minnesota Twins,’ the ‘White Sox’ won the American League Central division in 2008.
In 2009, Thome was traded to the ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’ where he played as a pinch hitter. But his run with the Dodgers was short lived due to many injuries, and by 2010 he signed a contract with the ‘Minnesota Twins.’
Thome had a good season playing for the Twins. He hit 25 home runs, 59 RBIs, with an average of .283, which also included the longest home run ever hit at Target Field (150m), Twins’ home stadium.
On 15th August 2011, Thome became the eighth player in the history to hit 600 home runs. He achieved this monumental feat in a match against the ‘Detroit Tigers’ at Comerica Park.
Thome’s stint with the ‘Minnesota Twins’ lasted till 2011, post which he joined his old club ‘Cleveland Indians.’ He played 22 games for the club in his second term, and playing at the fifth spot in the batting order, Thome hit 3 home runs, 10 RBIs, with a batting average of .296. By the time Thome left the Indians, he was their all- time leader in home runs, having hit 337 home runs for the club.
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In 2012, Thome joined the ‘Philadelphia Phillies’ again, in a one-year, $1.25 million deal. His second stint with the Phillies was interrupted due to a lower back injury. But he returned shortly, hitting 4 home runs and 14 RBIs.
By the time he finished with the Phillies, he had scored 101 home runs for the club, becoming only the fourth major league player to hit 100 home runs for three different clubs. Thome was soon traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
Thome continued playing for two more seasons. When he retired, he had hit 612 home runs, 1699 RBIs, 1747 walks, with a batting average of .276.
Post retirement, Thome joined the Chicago White Sox in 2013, as special assistant to the general manager, Rick Hahn.