Thome to Hall? At least as a visitor
White Sox slugger details plans for 500th home run ball
CHICAGO -- A visit to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., has already been crossed off Jim Thome's things-to-do list. The White Sox slugger admits, though, how he has never toured the entire amazing complex housing baseball's history.
But if Thome has his 500th home run baseball returned by the lucky fan who catches it, he has a special family plan for his next trip to the Hall of Fame.
"If we're lucky enough, my dad and I are going to take the ball and deliver it to the Hall of Fame," said Thome, prior to Monday's series opener against Cleveland. "That's something that my wife and I discussed, along with my dad.
"For me, the history of the game, I would rather have the ball there. It would mean something. And going with my father would be very, very special."
After launching home run No. 497 on Saturday, Thome talked about a special plan being put in place in relation to exchange for the milestone baseball. That plan has yet to be outlined by Thome or anyone on the White Sox.
Monday's long ball discussion centered on Thome's weekend hot streak, in which he homered in all three games against Minnesota and drove in seven runs. Along with Thome's 26 home runs and 80 RBIs, he also ranks among the American League leaders in walks (86, tied for fourth), on-base percentage (.411, fifth) and slugging percentage (.524, 10th).
Thome's razor sharp batting eye drew a comparison from first baseman Paul Konerko to another one-time White Sox offensive stalwart, Frank Thomas, who joined the 500-home run club earlier in 2007.
"He's a lot like Frank in his knowledge of the strike zone," said Konerko of Thome. "You see the walks, and it's not just a one-year thing. If you look at both of those guys' careers, they're walking 100 times a year.
"To me, that's the most amazing thing as a hitter -- to take that many walks, but to be able to do that much damage when you put the ball in play. It just doesn't make sense to a normal hitter, because it seems like to hit that many home runs, you have to be a free swinger -- swing at every pitch to try to make that happen.
"That's what sticks out with those two guys," Konerko added. "[Thome's] just so disciplined. If a guy makes pitches on him, he'll take his strikeout and go back, but he never losses his dangerousness."
Thome would enjoy showing off that dangerousness at least two times against Cleveland, the place where it all began for the affable slugger. This moment would be made a little more special in front of a lot of people in the Indians organization who were there when Thome was.
"To be honest, I think Jim Thome put the Indians back on the baseball map when he was there," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Of course, the greatness of 500 takes on even broader significance if Thome gets the job done at home and gets the ball back to embark on his special journey.
"That would be another pretty cool thing, to take it with [his dad] and to see [the Hall of Fame]," Thome said. "It would be neat."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.