Time is ticking away for clubs to sign their amateur draft picks, but at this hour I’m taking a moment to salute Jim Thome of the Minnesota Twins.
Tonight, Thome hit the 599th and 600th home runs of his major league career in consecutive at-bats at Comerica Park in Detroit. Thome broke in the with the Indians in 1991 at the age of 20, and 12 days shy of his 41st birthday, reaches a significant milestone, significant not just because so few players in history have reached the 600 plateau, but because Thome in particular did it without the slightest whiff of a performance-enhancing substance.
Jim Thome. Mr. Clean.
It’s funny, but when I think of Thome I think of the fact that Cleveland kept sending him back to the minors. He was a September call-up in ‘91,was up from mid-May to mid-August in ‘92, from mid-August until season’s end in ‘93, and a big leaguer thereafter. I was one of the official scorers for the American League in 1991 - the last year the Orioles played at Memorial Stadium - and I scored a Sunday game in September where Thome started at third for the Tribe, and the starting pitcher for Baltimore struck him out three times. Ready for this? That pitcher was Arthur Rhodes, who’s still a big leaguer himself with the Cardinals.
I’m supposing that Thome already knows that this is his final season in the majors, and I’d bet the farm that he’ll be at the podium in Cooperstown the summer of 2017. With career stats already better than many Hall of Fame sluggers, getting 75% of the vote on his first ballot should be a foregone conclusion.
Hats off to Jim Thome.
Oh, and completely off topic, today, Aug. 15, is the 45th anniversary of the Beatles’ 1966 concert at D.C. (RFK) Stadium, a year to the day after the very first stadium show they played at Shea Stadium in New York, a show my wife Diane was at. I was at the Washington show with some guys from my band in high school, and yes, you could actually hear them.