Franchise HR leader to be inducted with Belle, Robinson and Jamieson
By Shane Jackson
CLEVELAND -- On Friday afternoon, Jim Thome donned a Cleveland Cavaliers championship polo as he as he sat at the podium answering questions from the media.
"Being a Cavs fan, my son loves LeBron, so we obviously root for him and then the team, and it was a special time for the city," Thome said. "I think it showed what a class group of fans Cleveland was during that celebration. It was pretty special."
But his 8-year-old son is a big Thome fan as well, even if most of what he has seen of his dad is via YouTube clips. And on Saturday, Thome will be inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame in front of several of his friends and family, in addition to many fans at Progressive Field.
"To get an honor and to go in like this is -- I think it's everybody's dream that plays the game," Thome said. "You get drafted by an organization, and then they kind of bring you up. It's just very special. As I think I've always said, very humbling and just a very nice moment. It'll be exciting."
Thome will be the lone attendee, despite being one of four former Tribe members to be inducted on Saturday. He is the franchise leader in home runs with 337. Thome initially played for the Indians from 1991-2002, and he returned via trade in '11 and played 22 games with Cleveland.
Thome's former teammate, Albert Belle (1989-96), will also be honored. In '95, Belle became the only player in Major League history to record 50 home runs and 50 doubles in a season. However, Belle decided not to attend Saturday's ceremony.
"I was really looking forward to him being here, and I'm sure Cleveland [was] as well," Thome said. "I know the fans, they always loved the way he played. Every day, he came and had an intensity about him. I think I'm definitely a little disappointed, for sure."
The other two players -- Frank Robinson (1974-76) and Charlie Jamieson (1919-32) -- to be honored on Saturday were before Thome's time with the Tribe. The four inductees will put the Indians Hall of Fame at 44 members.
Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League history when he took over the Tribe in 1975. As a player, he spent most of his career with the Orioles and Reds, earning the Most Valuable Player Award in both leagues. Jamieson hit .316 in 14 seasons with the Indians, and he recorded 172 singles in the 1923 season.
Much of the talk Friday afternoon was centered on offense, given the players being honored. However, when asked about the current Indians club, Thome was quick to compliment the rotation.
"When I have seen them, their pitching stands out -- incredible," Thome said. "You look at that starting staff, they've got a very good, talented, young, good group of kids that throw very hard."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.