As recently as May, Jim Thome insisted he wasn't ready to make his retirement from baseball official. Though he hasn't played in the big leagues since Oct. 3, 2012, the 43-year-old slugger told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that he planned on staying in shape and waiting by the phone, hoping for one last opportunity to destroy baseballs for a living.
Unfortunately, that phone call never came. But the chance for a satisfying ending still existed, and Thome took advantage of that opportunity on Saturday by inking an honorary one-day contract and making his retirement official as a member of the Cleveland Indians.
Thome announces he's signed a one-day honorary contract with the Indians and will retire today as a member of the club! #ThomeStatue— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 2, 2014
Thome and his family were already scheduled to visit Cleveland for the unveiling of Thome's statue at Progressive Field, so the time and the place really couldn't have been more perfect.
Thome spent parts of 22 seasons in the big leagues with seven different teams, but more than half of his career (1,399 games out of 2,543) was with the Indians, where he remains the franchise's all-time home run leader with 337.
Thome's also seventh all-time on the MLB home run list with 612, trailing only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Going a little deeper, he's 24th all-time in both RBIs and slugging percentage.
Not bad for a farm boy from Illinois.
Thome also participated in the postseason 10 different times, including six division titles with the Indians, but his teams were never able to bring home a ring. His best shot came in 1997 when Cleveland fell to the then Florida Marlins in a classic seven-game World Series.
Odds are good that Thome's No. 25 jersey will be retired in due time. However, in another pretty cool honor, teammate Jason Giambi said he no longer will wear that number as a tribute to Thome. Giambi had worn No. 25 since signing with Cleveland before the 2013 season.
The surprise: Jason Giambi has changed his uniform number, 25, for the remainder of the season to honor Thome! pic.twitter.com/gChnfWSLCB— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) August 2, 2014
Thome will first be eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2018 and there's really no reason for him not to go in on his first try. He was one of baseball's greatest sluggers, which is most important to the Hall of Fame voters. He's also regarded as a true gentleman, and a great husband and father, which trumps everything else.
Enjoy retirement, Mr. Thome. You've earned it.
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Giambi would continue wearing No. 25.]
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