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Jim Thome signs one-day contract, officially retires as an Indian

Aug 2, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT

Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports that former 1B/DH Jim Thome has signed a one-day contract to officially retire as an Indian. It coincides with the organization’s unveiling of a Thome statue at Progressive Field.

Many former Indians showed up at Progressive Field to help honor Thome, including managers Charlie Manuel and Mike Hargrove, GM John Hart, and infielder Carlos Baerga. Manuel and Thome, as expected, were effusive in praise of each other:

Thome played parts of 22 seasons between 1991-2012. He retires with 612 career home runs, which ranks seventh all-time behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He wore the uniforms of the Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins, and Orioles.

Hall of Fame voting has been wonky as of late, so one hesitates in calling Thome a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he certainly is in a just society.

  1. recoveringcubsfan - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    He’ll always be the man who held back Ryan Howard, to me!!

    Just kidding. He was my favorite player on the Charlotte Knights and a hell of a nice guy, to boot. I wish him the best retirement possible.

    • tuberippin - Aug 2, 2014 at 8:40 PM

      Phils fan here. While he held Howard back, his signing in Philly arguably put the team back on the map in free agency after years of struggling to attract talent with mediocre squads that had guys like Vincente Padilla and Brandon Duckworth leading the rotation.

      Thome is my all-time favorite position player. I’ve always loved Ken Griffey, Jr., but Thome’s story of growing up as a farmboy in Peoria and struggling his way into the bigs, moving around the diamond in the process, always struck a chord with me. Growing up, I would emulate everything about the way Jim Thome hit. His stance, his bat extension, his calm approach to the dish, his power-generating swing.

      When I was about ten years old, I had the pleasure of meeting Thome while he was a member of the Indians. This was just around the millennium. For a long time, people mentioned Sean Casey as the game’s consummate “nice guy,” but I think over the course of a career that award might go to Mr. Thome.

      A salute to one of the game’s greatest power hitters.

      • chinahand11 - Aug 3, 2014 at 2:04 AM

        Thumbs up Tuberippin. We all have sports heroes we emulate when we’re kids. Good to hear it.

  2. fomeols - Aug 2, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    One of the nice guys.
    Ryan Braun and too many others should sit at his feet and learn how to be a worthwhile human being.

    • garypagetwo - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:33 PM

      Get over it

  3. mantastic54 - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    I don’t understand the one day contract. If they don’t put him on the roster, how did he retire an Indian?

    • natstowngreg - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:44 PM

      They didn’t have to put him on the 40-man roster. They just signed him to be part of the organization. Then, he filed his retirement papers with MLB HQ, while under contract with Cleveland. It’s just a nice, ceremonial thing.

      This happens occasionally, so maybe MLB has a special, one-day contract form for a guy who wants to retire from a specific team.

  4. clownsfan - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:22 PM

    Good player. Doesn’t deserve a statue in front of the stadium but whatever.

    • tuberippin - Aug 2, 2014 at 8:42 PM

      He holds the record for most home runs as a Cleveland Indian, and holds the record for the longest home run in Progressive Field history (511 feet). He was the power bat at the heart of the order during the years when Cleveland was a perennial World Series threat, and he stuck around longer than Manny Ramirez did (and did it cleanly).

      If any Indians player in the last 25 years has deserved a statue, it’s Thome.

    • sethcohenplayedsomeball - Aug 2, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      Lets not forget never even a whisper of a PED allegation towards Jim. As he once said, to paraphrase, he hit his home runs fueled by good ole’ American steak and beer. Cheers to that! Clownsfan, when you make a statement such as that, you need to qualify it… Scratch that, it is qualified to have the thumbs winning percentage we all see it does. Cheers to that as well; )

  5. unclemosesgreen - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    They should look into an extension – he can probably outhit Swisher right now.

    • yahmule - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      So could Bill Bergen’s desiccated corpse.

  6. sportsfan18 - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:27 PM

    Jim Thome has much more going for him than just 612 home runs.

    Thome’s career on base percentage is .402%

    He played a long time, into his 40’s and he was still able to maintain a .400 on base percentage.

    Thome is 51st on the all time list for highest on base percentage and that’s very high. Yet just hearing that probably doesn’t mean much to folks.

    Hopefully this will. Here are some players Thome is above in on base percentage.

    The great Rickey Henderson
    Chipper Jones, who is only 1 of 7 men with 10,000 at bats and a 300/400/500 career slash line
    Joe Dimaggio
    Miggy Cabrera
    Rod Carew
    Honus Wagner
    Tony Gwynn (at .388% to Thome’s .402%)
    Willie Mays
    Hank Aaron

    Thome is 7th in all time home runs but he has a higher career on base percentage than the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th players on the all time home run list.

    He’s only behind Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds in on base percentage for the top 7 home run hitters of all time.

    Thome’s career slugging percentage is .554% too.

    Thome is 24th all time in slugging folks. Hank Aaron is 23rd all time.

    So it isn’t just the home runs.

    When you go to bat, you’re trying to get on base. He did that with the BEST in the history of the game.

    He didn’t just walk and swat singles either. While hitting for true power (7th most home runs and 24th highest slugging all time) he STILL got on base a lot.

    He was a great teammate and an all around good guy too.

  7. natstowngreg - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Nice ending for a class act. Best wishes for a happy retirement.

  8. jwbiii - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Thome is an assistant to White Sox GM Rick Hahn, so he’s not really retired.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      Yes, he really retired, as a player. No, he didn’t retire from involvement with MLB. Good luck to him on the second phase of his career.

  9. ranoversquarells - Aug 2, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Back in his playing days, he scared me the most out of that entire lineup that included manny Ramirez

    • moogro - Aug 2, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      Did he threaten you? Doesn’t sound like Jimmy.

  10. hardkor07mn - Aug 2, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    I would love to have a beer with this guy. While his stay in MN was short, he seemed to be very stand up guy! Best of luck to you Mr. Thome.

  11. campcouch - Aug 2, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    All time favorite player, not just for his game, but because I ran into him and Mark Whiten at a hotel downtown in an elevator. I was 18, heading to basic training and a little star struck, but I mumbled a hello. Whiten just looked at me and moved over, but Jim Thome shook my hand, chatted with me and thanked me for joining up. He signed my room receipt and wished me luck and patted me on the back when he stepped out. That was pretty cool for a nervous kid leaving home alone for the first time.

    • chinahand11 - Aug 3, 2014 at 2:09 AM

      Freaking great story.

  12. courtjester1234 - Aug 2, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    this is one of the guys you wished that he had won a championship or more. too many loud mouths win and think it was because of them. Mr Thome I salute the greatness you had shown us as a gentleman not just a guy who played the game

  13. jimmywho14 - Aug 2, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    The day Jim Thome signed with the Phillies it marked the beginning of the golden age of Phillies baseball. I will always be grateful for that. Good luck with the retirement, and even though I’m sure you go in as an Indian, I will be extremely happy for you when you get in to the HOF!

  14. disgracedfury - Aug 3, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Can’t believe there’s a statue for this guy….he was just a homer who needed 600 to make the hall of fame.Overrated player and glad he never won a ring.Indians have nothing left to celebrate for that racist logo crappy team.

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