We had a feeling. And why not? Cleveland is a town that appreciates nostalgia as much as anywhere in this country right now. Jim Thome is as big of a folk hero as the modern day has seen. The Indians brought back Kenny Lofton to finish his career in an Indians uniform and now Thome will follow suit. As a baseball fan–especially if you grew up in the 90’s–you have to like this move.
Remember when Jacobs Field had the big ‘Office Max’ yellow lettering sign on the right field wall when Thome was posting home run season totals of 49 and 52? You don’t see that type of power anymore and Thome provided it in Cleveland after Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez had long left for greener pastures, literally.
And Thome’s situation in leaving Cleveland was different. Albeit, it was his choice; but you get the feeling that he never wanted to leave in the first place. All the talk around that time was that he was coming back to Cleveland and that the organization was going to build a Jim Thome statue outside of the stadium like they did for Bob Feller. Then Philadelphia swept in like a thief in the night and Thome was gone. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Hell, even his bride was from Cleveland. Philadelphia was not a Thome town.
We later learned that the players union heavily pressured Thome and his agent to take the deal Philadelphia put on the table. He left, he got his 500th and 600th home runs elsewhere and once again Cleveland was the town that was left standing at the altar with no one to marry.
One thing no one mentions–after stops in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Minnesota–and playoff appearances in all those cities, the only big league uniform in which Jim Thome ever hit a postseason home run in was an Indians uniform.
Cleveland is a town that despite how things seem to end and no matter how much they hate you at the time, they’ll forgive. Especially if you’re a sports figure. And that rule doesn’t apply to Lebron James but it certainly applies to Jim Thome.
The Indians are 6 and 1/2 games out in the AL Central right now and for all technical purposes we think they’re out of it. But they’ve given their fans a reason to keep on watching. And maybe they’ll catch lightning in a bottle like they did a couple of times with Kenny Lofton.
If Thome can leave the yard just once at Progressive Field, the stadium will erupt and even with all of the long nights gone by and none in celebration of a championship; for just a moment the people of that city will remember he greatness that existed and the magic of Thome in an Indians uniform for so many years.
And someday just maybe, they’ll build a statue outside the stadium one day with big folk hero Jim Thome’s name on it.