Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Vinnie Duber
NBC Sports Chicago

Jim Thome is heading to Cooperstown.

The former White Sox slugger was announced Wednesday as one of four players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, joining Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman as members of the Class of 2018. Thome appeared 89.8 percent of ballots.

Thome, a Peoria native, will almost certainly be enshrined with a Cleveland Indians cap on his head, but he was a fan favorite during his four-season stay on the South Side. He made an instant impression with a home run in his first game with the White Sox, the same night the team raised its championship banner following the 2005 World Series win. Thome hit 134 of his 612 career home runs while playing for the White Sox, including his 500th. Those 612 homers are the eighth most in baseball history.

His most dramatic moment in a White Sox uniform came in the Blackout Game in 2008, where his solo shot in Game No. 163 was the only run in the game and sent the White Sox to the playoffs.

Thome made five All-Star teams during his 22-year career, including one with the White Sox in 2006. Four times he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. His career will always be defined by the long ball, and he hit 30 or more 12 times in 13 seasons, including six 40-homer seasons and a career-high 52-homer season in 2002.

Thome will be remembered by most baseball fans as a member of those great Indians teams of the 1990s and early 2000s, where he played alongside fellow Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and a ton of other stars like Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel, David Justice and Kenny Lofton. Thome and the Tribe made the playoffs five straight years from 1995 through 1999 (and again in 2001) and reached the World Series in 1997, where they lost to the Florida Marlins. Thome finished his career with 17 postseason home runs, including one with the White Sox in the 2008 American League Division Series.

Thome's election makes it two straight seasons with a former White Sox great heading to the Hall. Tim Raines was a member of the Class of 2017. Frank Thomas, in 2014, is the most recent player to be inducted with a White Sox cap on his plaque.

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