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January 24, 2018

Former Phillies react to Jim Thome's Hall of Fame selection

Ex-Phillies first baseman Jim Thome, who spent four of his 22 MLB seasons in red pinstripes (2003-2005, 2012), has been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. He joins Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman as part of the 2018 class, which was revealed on Wednesday.

Thome retired in 2012 with 612 home runs (8th all time), 451 doubles, and 1,699 to go with a .276 career average. 

In his time with the Phillies, Thome drove in 281 runs and hit 101 home runs, including his milestone 400th.

But Thome's impact on the organization goes well beyond the stats he posted. After 12 seasons in Cleveland, Thome joined the Phillies prior to the 2003 season and was the first big-name player signed by a rebuilding club that was looking to take the next step, not unlike the current situation in which the team finds itself. He also played a pivotal role in the hiring of Charlie Manuel, whom he knew from his time with the Indians. 

“I couldn’t be happier for Jim, who is like a son to me," said Manuel, who is now a special advisor to the Phillies. "This is totally deserving and, for me, ranks up there with anything I’ve ever seen happen in the game of baseball. For someone that I met as a 19-year-old and saw improve as much as anyone over time, it makes me smile to think that all that hard work, all those swings in the batting cage, is now paying off for him. I started thinking this was possible after he hit his 500th home run and for the day to finally be here, it’s like winning the World Series all over again.” 

After three seasons with the club, Thome bounced around from the White Sox to the Dodgers to the Twins, and then finally returned briefly to the Indians. The following season, 2012, the Phillies resigned Thome. And while he only played in 30 games for the Phils that season, he did set a new record for the most career walk-off home runs (13) when he sent career homer No. 609 into the seats at Citizens Bank Park.

Thome was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame 2016.

Here's more reaction to Thome's Hall-of-Fame election from other members of the Phillies community:

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt

“Jim and I enjoyed many memorable moments together, not the least of which was when I ‘passed the torch’ to him when we closed the Vet. That was a moment I won’t soon forget. When Jim came to the plate, nobody went to the concession stand. 

"Behind the scenes, Jim has an upbeat personality and what I always admired about him was that he was always willing to listen and wanted to learn from others despite how much he had accomplished.  He would always pick my brain and loved to talk hitting, which was a byproduct of his unique relationship with Charlie Manuel. 

"Jim will go down as one of the greatest hitters of all time. Baseball in his blood and I can’t wait to sit behind him when he is making his speech. I’ll be the first one to shake his hand and say, ‘Welcome to the club’ as he deserves this honor as much as anyone.”

Ed Wade

“There’s no player more deserving of a first-ballot Hall of Fame selection than Jim Thome. His stats speak for themselves, but they only represent one layer of his HOF credential. Jim is a tremendous person and family man, and he was one of the all-time great teammates. Jim’s signing with the Phillies accomplished a great many things for the organization.  

"First, he made us a better team. He gave us the opportunity to develop Ryan Howard at the proper pace.  His clubhouse presence among a lot of outstanding young players allowed them to learn how to handle the pressures of the game. In a global sense, his signing validated and reinforced the promises we made to our fans about being fully committed to use the resources of a new ballpark to build a championship-caliber organization. And, he just happened to open the door for us to hire the winningest manager in Phillies history: Charlie Manuel. 

"Baseball, the Phillies, Philadelphia and many of us individually owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Thome.” 

Ryan Howard

“I want to say congrats to one of the most deserving, and one of the most genuine, people I’ve ever met in my entire life. This is one of the greatest achievements you can accomplish in the game. I’m extremely happy for Jim and his family. I’m proud I was able to call him a teammate and a mentor and even more proud to call him a friend. Congrats, Big Thome.”

Chase Utley

“I would like to congratulate Jim Thome on being inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is no one more deserving of such an honor. Watching him hit was something I looked forward to on a daily basis. He was clearly an unbelievable hitter but somehow an even better person. Jim is a once-in-a-lifetime player and person and I’m honored to have witnessed part of his career firsthand. Congrats, Big Jim!”

Larry Bowa

“It was an honor to manage a great person like Jim Thome. His signing with the Phillies turned our franchise into a perennial contender. Congratulations, Jim, you have earned the right to be with the greatest players of all time.”

David Montgomery

“Jim’s signing was a transformative moment for our organization. The combination of him joining us, along with David Bell, and the opportunity to move into Citizens Bank Park, set us up for the subsequent successful run we had. Jim’s qualities as a player are well-documented and he exceeded all expectations as a person and a teammate.  In addition to his 400th home run, one moment I will cherish forever is Mike Schmidt greeting Jim at home plate the day we closed the Vet. That was very special. The Phillies owe a great deal to Jim Thome. Congratulations to him on his induction into the Hall of Fame.”

Ruben Amaro Jr.

“Jim Thome epitomizes all that is good in baseball. In so many ways he made a great impact not just on the organizations that he played for but also the people and the teammates he touched. Jim played a major part in helping to take the Phillies franchise in a new and exciting direction with his signing prior to the Vet closing and Citizens Bank Park opening. He legitimized the plan and vision set forth by Ed Wade and he graciously moved on when it was time for Ryan Howard to take over. Jim is not only a Hall of Fame player but, even more, he is a Hall of Fame person. I have been fortunate to call him a friend and a teammate.”

Brett Myers

“They didn’t call him ‘Gentleman Jim’ for nothing. A great family man and that’s exactly how he treated his teammates – as family. Jim is a real class act, he greeted everyone with a smile no matter who you were and made sure he spoke to all his teammates no matter what kind of day he was having.”

Jimmy Rollins 

“Sharing the clubhouse with Jim not once but twice was an honor. His infectious smile, gentle nature, and the extra-large and tight hugs he’d give his friends because he was genuinely excited to see you were things I looked forward to every day. He made me strive to be a better player every day with the hope being he didn’t feel like he had to do it all himself. I just wanted to be a part of his legacy, not for bragging rights but simply to know what it felt like to stand so close to greatness! 

If you want to read about his numbers you can Google those and if you ever tried to ask him about his, he’d humbly and almost embarrassingly respond ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ then with a devilish look on his face look you right in your eyes and place his paws on your shoulders and say ‘But there are a lot of names in that book!’  Well, Jim, that book has traveled many miles on the wings of many leather balls that met the barrel of your bat!  And now that book can take its final trip up to Cooperstown. Congratulations to you on your well-deserved Hall of Fame induction and to all the others you will share the stage with on that day!”

Dan Plesac 

“Jim Thome was the best teammate I ever played with and I played with some great ones. But, as great of a baseball player as he was, he is a better person. When you meet Jim for the first time, the fifth time or the 1,000th time, you walk away asking yourself, ‘Is he really he is that nice?’ He is the most genuine and down-to-earth person I’ve ever met and treats everyone across the board with dignity and respect.  Congratulations to my former teammate, friend and co-worker!”

Randy Wolf 

“To say Jim was a great teammate would be an extreme understatement. His excellence on the field was something for all to see, but his excellence in the clubhouse and dugout was something only a few people were lucky enough to witness and experience. For me, it was an extreme honor to be his teammate and I can’t think of anybody more deserving of being enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. For me, he’s been there for years.”

Bobby Abreu 

“Jim Thome is one of the all-time great players and he deserves this honor. He always played the game hard and it was exciting for me to be around him on an everyday basis during our time together in Philadelphia.  I learned a lot of things from him and I’m very happy that he is getting the call to the Hall of Fame.”

Mike Lieberthal

“I remember playing against Jim in rookie league and even then he hit the ball as far as anyone I’d ever seen. I was lucky enough to have the great opportunity to play with him in Philadelphia and he was one of best teammates I’d ever had. He was always positive and he never changed.”

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