No matter what happens in the career or the life of Jim Thome from this moment forward he can always stake his claim as one of the best home run hitters to ever play the game of baseball. Thome joined an elite club on Monday night when he belted home run number 599 in the 6th inning against Detroit and then he hit number 600 in his very next at-bat. The milestone wasn’t praised as much as some others and it all has to do with home run numbers being tainted by the steroid era. But this milestone should be celebrated, not overlooked. Thome has never been linked to steroids, he has denied it numerous times, and there is no reason to believe that he participated in any wrong doing.
Whether it was in Cleveland during the prime of his career, during a time when he was at the center of one of the most explosive and intimidating offenses in the majors, or any of the other teams he played for, Jim Thome left his mark and his next stop as soon as he decides to hang up his trademark high socks should be Cooperstown.
Jim Thome joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about whether or not he thinks he is a Hall-Of-Famer, what he was thinking in his very next at bat following his 599th home run, on his mindset being to just hit home runs, who he heard from after hitting his 600th home run, and whether or not he feels like somewhat of a victim because of the era he played in.
Whether or not he thinks he is a Hall-Of-Famer:
“You know what? I know it’s been a long journey and to say that you feel like a Hall-Of-Famer, I don’t think any player can ever do that. I think that’s too special and that would be a special day. You have to go through that process to get to that point. To say that you’re a Hall-Of-Famer to me is a little out of text. No player should ever say I’m a Hall-Of-Famer and that’s how I’ve always approached it. I think I’ve worked my tail end off to accomplish some wonderful things so maybe in that regard I would say maybe. It’s been a great ride, and enjoyable ride, and a lot of years for sure.”
What was going through his mind in his next at bat after hitting his 599th homerun:
“I’m thinking basically we’re there. When I hit number 598 in Anaheim it was like ‘okay you’re two away but don’t get antsy’. Then we went home and I started, I don’t want to say pressing, I didn’t press because I was swinging the bat pretty well and I was squaring the ball up but I wasn’t getting any lift on the ball. Then the White Sox came in and obviously you’re playing your old team and teammates and there’s a little bit of pride there that you want to do it against them. Then we went to Cleveland. Kinda the same thing with the history there. To be honest with you, with Delmon (Young) getting traded yesterday there was no talk at all about the 600 from anybody. To be honest it felt kinda nice.”
On his mindset being just to hit home runs:
“That’s what people want. They want to see you do it and they want to see the long home run. It’s not that easy. It really isn’t. It’s not that easy to go out and hit home runs. It’s hard to explain. When you don’t try you do it, if that makes sense. I go back to Charlie Manuel because I’ve known Charlie a long time. He was with me a long time in Cleveland and that’s one of the things that we always used to talk about was staying under control, not getting ahead of yourself, and if you hit one that’s over with and it’s time to concentrate on the next one. I think his mentality rubbed off on me for years with not getting too high or too low.”
On who he heard from after hitting his 600th home run:
“I heard from Brett Favre. I heard from Brett Favre and he said congratulations which was very, very cool. A friend of mine knows Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts. He didn’t text me but my buddy said Gary said congratulations from the Flatts nation and that was pretty cool. It was very special. A lot of friends and it was a pretty special night no question.”
Whether or not he feels somewhat a victim because of the era that he played in being tainted by steroids:
“I think what’s happened is I think there’s still a little bit of negativity. It’s hard to forget. I’ve said this and I’ve been very open about this, I think what has happened is there have been a lot of guys to pay the price. My thing was not every guy in that era did it and not every guy has done it. There were guys in our time that did it the right way. I think that has maybe been the effect on today’s game as far as people have a hard time saying ‘did this guy do it? Did this guy do it?’ There’s always going to be that question mark no question. (Host: Would you question you?) Sure. I mean yeah absolutely. Again you’re kinda guilty by association in an era, in a time when guys did it. That’s what feels so good. I talk to you about the journey, the journey to get there and what it took to get there and the people that worked with you and how hard you worked to get there. Looking back you appreciate all those people that were there during the good and bad times. Trust me over a 20-year period you don’t just succeed every day. That makes you at the end of the day you look in the mirror and you go wow. I feel pretty proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, and how it’s been done.”