ESPN2 took a break from their coverage of the Giants-Braves game to see Minnesota Twins DH Jim Thome bat against Detroit Tigers pitcher Daniel Scherleth at Comerica Park. Thome had hit his 599th career homerun earlier in the game.
Twins color commentator (and recent Hall of Fame inductee) Bert Blyleven was lamenting how people treated Derek Jeter’s pursuit of 3,000 hits was as if it had never been done. He feared that Thome’s bid for 600 homeruns would go unnoticed. On the very next pitch, Thome hit an opposite field three run homerun for the 600th of his career. Thome and his teammates were joined by Thome’s wife, children and father. To their credit, Tigers fans gave Thome a standing ovation. The Twins won the game 9-6. Thome was the star of the game going 3-for-4 with two homeruns and five RBIs.
Unfortunately, part of the reason Thome’s achievement hasn’t been given the attention it deserves is because of the legacy of steroids. Of course, three members of the 600 plus club (Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa) have been linked to steroids and that residue has stained Thome even though Thome has never been suspected of using steroids. Make no mistake folks. Thome has had country power from the get go.
On a personal note, it was twelve years ago yesterday that I attended a game at Jacobs Field (now known as Progressive Field) in Cleveland. In that game, I saw Thome hit a first inning grand slam off Jason Johnson of the Baltimore Orioles to straight away center field at Jacobs Field. The Indians won the game 7-1.
The Twins were actually in Cleveland during the weekend. It would have been nice if he had done it in front of the fans who rooted for him for most of his career. Unfortunately, yesterday’s game was rained out. But the fans who attended tonight’s game in Detroit witnessed baseball history.