Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thome joins elite 600 club; connections to Killebrew?

There seems to be few words to describe the type of player and the type of man that James Howard Thome has become to the game of baseball. On Monday night, Thome entered the rarified air of the greatest power-hitters of all-time. He joins names like Aaron, Ruth, and Mays who have all paved the way for his historic game in Detroit.

In a season where the Twins lost the greatest power hitter in team history, it seems only fitting that there is a connection between Thome's game last night and Harmon Killebrew. On Thome's way to 600 home runs, he passed Killebrew's mark of 573 at Target Field in 2010. Killebrew had a wonderful message at the time for Thome and the powerful sluggers seemed more connected since that day.

Flashback to an August day at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. Harmon Killebrew had been pressing at the plate and was stuck on 499 home runs. The date was August 10th and Killer had not hit one out of the yard since July 25th. This day at the plate would be different for Mr. Killebrew. He would end the day with two home runs and his placed etched in history. The iconic photo from that day leads to the present day with Jim Thome...
Flash-forward to the present day and it once again is an August night. This time there is another slugger that has been struggling to reach a milestone. Jim Thome had not hit a long ball since August 8th and he sat two home runs shy of the 600 home run club. This night would be different at the plate for Mr. Thome. He would end the night with two home runs and his place etched in history.
However, the connections do not stop there...

The most moving night in the short history of Target Field took place earlier this year with the memorial service for Harmon Killebrew. 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.
Harmon Killebrew and Jim Thome never played on the same field during their careers but there continues to be connections between these two Paul Bunyanesque figures in the Twin Cities. Thome provides younger fans of this generation with a player that can provide some reference to how great Killebrew was for the Twins. In the year of Harmon's passing, it is even more important to be reminded of his greatness.

These men are not just two of the greatest baseball players of all-time; they are also two great men for all-time. Class acts on and off the field that provide role models that will stand the test of time.

Greatness like this does not come around too often and when it does it is important to savor every moment of it.

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