Jim Thome credits Peoria roots for path to Hall of Fame

Clyde Nash
January 26, 2018

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were rewarded Wednesday, easily elected in the newest class headed for Cooperstown.

Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez, in his ninth year of consideration, fell 20 votes short at 70.4 percent.

Controversial players such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who have failed to get in, are getting closer and closer to the 75 percent needed for induction.

Thome and the other three inductees will join Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, who the Baseball Writers' Association of America rejected during their years on the ballot before the Modern Era committee selected them last December.

Jones was an eight-time All-Star third baseman for the Atlanta Braves. Longtime Indian Thome, 47, was voted in with 612 home runs, eighth most, (and a reputation as one of the games all-time good guys) and Hoffman, 50, who spent most of his time a Padre, with 601 saves, second all time.

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Guerrero, a second year selection, will forever be known as one of the most risky sluggers to ever grace the batter's box for the Expos and Angels. The fact that he played for the Montreal Expos helped, too, so even people who weren't baseball fans knew who he was. In 2016, Schilling had 52.3 percent of votes, but he dropped to 45 percent past year.

He is first player to wear a Braves uniform to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame since John Smoltz in 2015. The 79th induction ceremonies will be held on Sunday, July 29 in Cooperstown. He will now be known as a Hall of Fame baseball player.

"Growing up I had Larry Walker and from Calgary, where I'm from, Chris Reitsma, as a pitcher to look up to, but there wasn't that much", says Jim Henderson, the 35-year-old former Brewers and Mets reliever. Additionally, Thome is second in Indians history with 937 RBI and third in on-base (.414), slugging (.592) and on-base-plus-slugging percentages (.980), as well as 10th with 263 doubles.

"It's a big number, a special, special number", Thome told the Star Tribune at the time. Just like Bonds, he completed his sixth year on the ballot and has four more years of eligibility. With Cleveland, Thome hit 337 home runs over the span of 13 seasons (1991-2002; 2011).

Clemens, victor of 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards, got 57.3 percent after drawing 54.1 percent last time. He is only of only five players in Major League Baseball history to total at least 500 homers, 1,500 runs, 1,600 RBI and 1,700 walks.

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During his 22-year Major League Baseball career, Thome collected 2,328 hits in 8,422 at-bats (.276 batting average) with 451 doubles, 26 triples and 612 home runs. For me, Clemens and Bonds, while imperfect, don't fit the category of "banished".

Unfortunately, former Indians legends Omar Vizquel and Manny Ramirez were not elected this year, but still have a chance in the future after receiving enough votes. Chipper Jones was named on 410 of the 422 ballots cast. But perhaps his most memorable knock was a bloop single off Chris Tillman at Camden Yards on August 14, 2009 - which he hit on a pitch that bounced in the dirt.

Rivera heads the ballot next year.

Are you satisfied with this year's Hall of Fame class?

I voted for Martinez for the first time on this ballot.

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