Friday, August 26, 2011

Fans accepted Thome as a Twin

For the first two seasons at Target Field, Twins fans were privileged to get to watch one of the greatest sluggers in the history of the game of baseball. Jim Thome brought an aura of greatness to a team that already had plenty of stars. Tales of his home runs have become the stuff legends are made of across Twins Territory.

Jim Thome agreed to be traded to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night. The Twins will get a player to be named later in return for the aging slugger. Overall, this move was not about what the Twins got back in a trade. It was about getting Thome closer to the pennant race in what could be his final season. He will go back to the city that got him started on his path to greatness. The Indians are currently second in the American League Central but the team is 6.5 games back of the Tigers. That would be quite a comeback to chase down the Tigers but anything is possible with a little of Thome's magic.

When Thome came to the Twins at the beginning of the 2010 season, there was no reason for fans to connect with the slugger. He had tormented the Twins with multiple teams in the American League Central. Besides the Detroit Tigers, the Twins have been victim to more Thome home runs than any other team. He had played more of the role of villain than that of hero in Minnesota.

The first year at Target Field would get rid of any of those negative feelings for Thome. Fans could come to the ballpark and hope to see a ball blasted into the starry night. There were so many memories in the last two years that have connected Thome to the Twins franchise for years to come.

He passed Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list with the Twins and that was a special moment that seemed to connect the two greatest home run hitters to wear a Twins uniform. He would go on to have his walk-off home run against the White Sox and the shot off of the flag pole in right field.

There has been very little positivity surrounding the Twins this season. There have been brief moments that will be remembered by fans for their importance to the club. At the beginning of the year, the Twins lost one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise, Harmon Killebrew. The memorial service at Target Field offered fans a chance to relive many of the memories of their star slugger. Thome played a small part in the service by climbing to the highest seat in Target Field to show fans the distance of Killebrew's longest home run at Met Stadium. Later in the evening the gentle giant, Thome, would be brought to tears from the emotions of the night.

Thome's chase for his 600th home run seemed like the only thing that was left for him to accomplish during his short time with the Twins. That feat was accomplished on the last road trip and now it was time for Thome to move on from the Twins franchise.  

Fans did not have to accept Thome as one of their own during his time with the team. Thome made himself hard to resist with his play on the field and his magnificent attitude off of the field. He was raised in the Midwest and that attitude helped to endure him to the culture of Twins Territory. He was a hard worker and he came to the park everyday with a positive attitude that was infectious to the rest of the ball club. This type of future hall-of-fame player does not walk through the door everyday and the Twins were lucky that he picked Minnesota for the last two years.

When Thome gets the call to Cooperstown, he will be wearing the hat of a different club than the Twins on his plaque. That will not matter to fans of the organization because of the memories he etched during his time here. For the last two seasons, fans of the Twins were witness to one of the best players in this generation. It was an honor to get to see Mr. Thome wear a Twins uniform and some part of me will always remember him as a Twin. 

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