Is Thome an Indian, a Phillie or Neither?

Jim Thome will be appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and has a better than average shot at being elected to the Hall on the first ballot. In days of old, when a player who played for more than one team in their career went into the Hall of Fame, they were given the choice of which team’s cap to have them wearing on their plaque. Now, the Hall of Fame takes into consideration the player’s wishes for which cap he’ll wear, but ultimately, it’s the Hall of Fame that decides, based on which team he “made his most indelible mark.”

Why the change? You could call it the Boggs Rule. Rumors started to fly that teams were offering players financial compensation or honors such as having their number retired by the team or cushy organizational jobs in exchange for having the player choose to have their team cap depicted on their Hall of Fame plaque. Wade Boggs and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays – yes, they were Devils in those days – may have pushed it to the limit. While Boggs denied the claims, there were various reports that said his contract with Tampa Bay included a clause that he would go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Devil Rays cap, which would have been ridiculous considering he played just two of his 18 seasons in Tampa. He played 11 in Boston and five as a New York Yankee. Ultimately, when Boggs was inducted in 2005, his plaque shows him in a Red Sox hat.

So what do you do with Jim Thome? While Philadelphia fans would disagree, he likely has to go into the Hall with a Cleveland Indians cap. He spent 13 of his 22 seasons as a member of the Indians and hit 337 of his 612 career home runs with Cleveland. By comparison, he played just four seasons in Philadelphia – 391 games compared to 1,399 in Cleveland – and hit 101 home runs as a Phillie. He actually played more games (529) with the Chicago White Sox than he did with the Phillies.

There’s no denying that he was beloved in Philadelphia, and still is. What Phillies fans don’t realize is that he’s just as beloved – possibly, more – in Cleveland. The team even erected a statue to him that is on display at the ballpark and inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Jim Thome and Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt raises the hand of Jim Thome in an unofficial passing of the torch at the closing ceremonies at Veterans Stadium in 2003.

The Phillies inducted Thome onto their Wall of Fame in August of 2016, making him the shortest tenured Phillie to be given the honor. Thome ushered in a new era of Phillies baseball when he signed with the team as a free agent in 2002 looking for an elusive World Series ring. Thome also helped to usher in Citizens Bank Park. At the closing ceremonies for Veterans Stadium, Mike Schmidt stood at home plate and raised Jim Thome‘s hand to the sky, signifying the passing of the torch from Schmidt’s reign at The Vet to Thome’s time at Citizens Bank Park.

There’s one other option for Thome’s plaque. If Thome were to ask, the Hall might consider inducting him with no team logo on his cap. There are 10 players and a number of managers, who don’t have a team shown on their cap. The last player and manager to go in without a team logo both entered the Hall in 2014; Greg Maddux and Tony LaRussa. Both cited having spent significant and meaningful parts of their careers in multiple cities and the Hall acquiesced and went with no team logo. In case you’re wondering, the other nine players are: Yogi Berra, Andy Cooper, Frank Grant, Pete Hill, Catfish Hunter, Biz Mackey, Luis Santop, Ben Taylor and Cristobal Torriente.

Of course, we’re technically way ahead of things here. After all, there is the minor detail of Thome getting elected to the Hall of Fame. His induction is going to happen, but the question is whether or not he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer. It says here that he will be.

Jim Thome’s career stats

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG Awards
1991 CLE 27 104 98 7 25 4 2 1 9 5 16 .255 .298 .367
1992 CLE 40 131 117 8 24 3 1 2 12 10 34 .205 .275 .299
1993 CLE 47 192 154 28 41 11 0 7 22 29 36 .266 .385 .474
1994 CLE 98 369 321 58 86 20 1 20 52 46 84 .268 .359 .523
1995 CLE 137 557 452 92 142 29 3 25 73 97 113 .314 .438 .558
1996 CLE 151 636 505 122 157 28 5 38 116 123 141 .311 .450 .612 MVP-15,SS
1997 CLE 147 627 496 104 142 25 0 40 102 120 146 .286 .423 .579 AS,MVP-6
1998 CLE 123 537 440 89 129 34 2 30 85 89 141 .293 .413 .584 AS,MVP-21
1999 CLE 146 629 494 101 137 27 2 33 108 127 171 .277 .426 .540 AS
2000 CLE 158 684 557 106 150 33 1 37 106 118 171 .269 .398 .531
2001 CLE 156 644 526 101 153 26 1 49 124 111 185 .291 .416 .624 MVP-7
2002 CLE 147 613 480 101 146 19 2 52 118 122 139 .304 .445 .677 MVP-7
2003 PHI 159 698 578 111 154 30 3 47 131 111 182 .266 .385 .573 MVP-4
2004 PHI 143 618 508 97 139 28 1 42 105 104 144 .274 .396 .581 AS,MVP-19
2005 PHI 59 242 193 26 40 7 0 7 30 45 59 .207 .360 .352
2006 CHW 143 610 490 108 141 26 0 42 109 107 147 .288 .416 .598 AS,MVP-12
2007 CHW 130 536 432 79 119 19 0 35 96 95 134 .275 .410 .563
2008 CHW 149 602 503 93 123 28 0 34 90 91 147 .245 .362 .503
2009 TOT 124 434 362 55 90 15 0 23 77 69 123 .249 .366 .481
2009 CHW 107 417 345 55 86 15 0 23 74 69 116 .249 .372 .493
2009 LAD 17 17 17 0 4 0 0 0 3 0 7 .235 .235 .235
2010 MIN 108 340 276 48 78 16 2 25 59 60 82 .283 .412 .627 MVP-18
2011 TOT 93 324 277 32 71 16 0 15 50 46 92 .256 .361 .477
2011 MIN 71 242 206 21 50 12 0 12 40 35 69 .243 .351 .476
2011 CLE 22 82 71 11 21 4 0 3 10 11 23 .296 .390 .479
2012 TOT 58 186 163 17 41 7 0 8 25 22 61 .252 .344 .442
2012 PHI 30 71 62 9 15 2 0 5 15 8 21 .242 .338 .516
2012 BAL 28 115 101 8 26 5 0 3 10 14 40 .257 .348 .396
TOTALS 2543 10313 8422 1583 2328 451 26 612 1699 1747 2548 .276 .402 .554
G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG Awards
CLE CLE 1399 5805 4711 928 1353 263 20 337 937 1008 1400 .287 .414 .566
PHI PHI 391 1629 1341 243 348 67 4 101 281 268 406 .260 .384 .541
CHW CHW 529 2165 1770 335 469 88 0 134 369 362 544 .265 .391 .542
MIN MIN 179 582 482 69 128 28 2 37 99 95 151 .266 .387 .562
LAD LAD 17 17 17 0 4 0 0 0 3 0 7 .235 .235 .235
BAL BAL 28 115 101 8 26 5 0 3 10 14 40 .257 .348 .396
AL ( AL ( 2135 8667 7064 1340 1976 384 22 511 1415 1479 2135 .280 .406 .557
NL ( NL ( 408 1646 1358 243 352 67 4 101 284 268 413 .259 .382 .538
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/23/2017.

 

Chuck Hixson

Chuck has a wide and varied background in covering sports both locally and nationally. Living in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania, Chuck has the distinction of being the only person to have covered both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Lehigh Valley Phantoms in every season of their existence.

Chuck began covering sports in 1998 when he was the first program director and morning host at WTKZ-AM in Allentown, Pennsylvania when the station switched to an all sports format. Chuck produced the stations coverage of the Allentown Ambassadors baseball team, which played in the independent Northeast League.

From there, Chuck was the editor and writer of Pinstripes magazine, covering Phillies baseball. That led to Chuck founding Philly Baseball Insider in 2003.

Chuck has done freelance work for national entities such as USA TODAY, CBS, FOX Sports, Washington Times and others.

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