DETROIT (CBS) – A two-home run performance Monday night has a former Phillies star in an elite club. Jim Thome, with the Minnesota Twins, made history by hitting his 600th career home run in the Twins 9-6 win over the Detroit Tigers.
Thome is the eighth player in major league history to reach the 600 mark, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.
Thome, 40, hit a two-run homer in the sixth for No. 599 and came back in the seventh for a three-run shot for 600.
“It’s a great night. To share it with my teammates there at home plate, my family obviously, I love all of you,” Thome said after the game.
“You don’t know. At 40-years-old, approaching 41, you don’t know. I never tried to take it for granted. I never once said, ‘this is gonna happen.'”
He made it happen throughout a career that began in Cleveland and continues in Minnesota. Locally, Philadelphia sports fans have not forgotten about the impact he made.
The Phillies made a splash before the 2003 season, signing Thome to a six-year deal worth $85 million. He played three seasons in Philadelphia and hit 96 of his career bombs for the Phillies before being traded to the Chicago White Sox to make room for the emerging Ryan Howard.
The Phillies did not make the playoffs with Thome on-board, but the slugger remained popular among Phillies fans after the trade to Chicago following an injury-plagued 2005 season.
Thome’s signing helped make Philadelphia a more attractive free agent destination. That, along with the rise of the homegrown core of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels and the opening of Citizens Bank Park is credited for ushering in this recent “Golden Era” of Phillies baseball.
Thome has given a lot of credit to Phils skipper Charlie Manuel, as the two share a father-son type relationship.
Manuel managed the then 20-year-old Thome at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 1991. The relationship continued as Thome’s star grew with the Cleveland Indians and Manuel was the team’s hitting coach from 1994-1999 then later manager from 2000-2002. After Thome signed with the Phillies in 2003, Manuel joined the organization as a special assistant before being named manager in 2005.
Well wishes poured in from those throughout baseball including a congratulatory statement released by fellow 600 home run club member Ken Griffey Jr.. Jimmy Rollins tweeted about his former teammate’s milestone, “Congrats to my big homie, Jim Thome on his 600th home run!!! Could not have happened to a nicer man.”
Reported by Tim Jimenez, KYW Newsradio 1060