One of Jonathan Edwards resolutions was to…Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it.
We should all emulate Jim Thome when everyone around him are saying the following:
“He is the world’s nicest man,” said Twins closer Joe Nathan. “He’s one of those guys that the hype is so great before you meet him, then he lives up to the hype, and more. When you see him from across the field, you think, ‘He can’t be that nice,’ but he is. He is so genuine. There are other players that will be forgotten when they leave, but he will not be. We will be talking about him for years to come. To me, he’s like [Hall of Famer] Harmon Killebrew. They are one in the same. When you meet both of those guys for the first time, you think, ‘Wow, this is someone that I will be wanting to talk to on a daily basis.’”
“Jim Thome is the best,” said Twins reliever Matt Capps. “He is just a regular guy. I’ve been to dinner with him, and people come to our table, and he takes time to say hi to a kid. I’ve seen guys with six months in the big leagues snub a kid in a restaurant. Not Jim, and he is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’ll talk to a guy who knew him from Cleveland in 1993. He is a role model for all of us, he is like every one of us would like to be. I’d like to get 20 years in the big leagues like him, but what am I going to be like in 12 or 15 years? Meeting him, you would never know that he was on the cusp of hitting 600 home runs.”
“He’s like Babe Ruth around here,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, smiling. “The fans here get all mad at me for not playing him every day. The other day [as Thome was within two home runs of 600], the White Sox were throwing that [Chris] Sale kid, the left-hander throwing 97 [mph], and the fans wanted me to pinch-hit Thome for [Danny] Valencia [who bats right-handed]. They just love him here. He’s great. He has been a pleasure.”
“He is the nicest, gentlest, kindest guy you will ever meet … to everything except the baseball, he still hits that really hard,” said Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer. “He has great fire to him. It’s not like, when he strikes out, he says, ‘Oh, that was such a good pitch.’ It’s nothing like that. That’s the perception some people have of him, but he hates to lose. When he walks in a room, everyone watches everything he does. It’s the way he treats people, it’s the way he respects the game. When I heard he was re-signing with us, I was so happy for a lot of reasons, but one reason was I wanted to be there for when he hit No. 600. Every night, I would pray that I was on base when he hit his 600th home run.”
Ex-teammates still talk about Thome lovingly in Cleveland (he does get booed a bit by Indians fans, but that’s for leaving in the first place) and in Philadelphia and Chicago. He is relentlessly positive. Perkins remembers his first or second day back with the Twins this year after a long stretch in the minors. He was walking by Thome, who was taking his slow, methodical phantom batting practice. “And suddenly, he just stops,” Perkins says, “and he smiles and gives me a fist. I mean, it’s not like I’m Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. He barely knows who I am. But that’s the kind of guy he is. He’s the best teammate I’ve ever had… . I think everybody thinks that.”