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Sports Then and Now



Will Jim Thome’s Homecoming be a Successful One? 15

Posted on August 26, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Jim Thome's return to Cleveland is a reminder of past glory.

The decision by Jim Thome to waive his no-trade clause with the Minnesota Twins and accept a return to the Cleveland Indians brings the career of baseball’s newest 600 Club member full circle.

It was the Indians that picked Thome in the 13th round of the 1989 baseball draft and for the Indians that Thome blasted a franchise record 334 home runs while helping the team reach two World Series.

Cleveland fell just short in both of those Fall Classic appearances and the perfect ending to the Thome story would be for the slugger to help his old team finally achieve championship glory.

However, not every sports story has a happy “fairy tale” ending and it isn’t likely that even Thome playing at his best would be the enough to get this Cleveland team to championship glory.

The Indians are currently six games out of first place in the AL Central and are 30-44 since June 1st.

While Thome has enjoyed a brief resurgence with four home runs and 13 RBI in August, he is still on pace for his lowest full season home run total (not counting his injury-plagued 2005 campaign) since hitting 20 homers with the Indians in 1994.

Even if Thome and the Indians can catch lightning in a bottle and somehow reach the playoffs, Thome will have to change his recent postseason ways to help the Indians advance to the World Series. Read the rest of this entry →

Jim Thome Joins Elite Home Run Club 7

Posted on August 16, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Jim Thome is the fifth player to reach 600 home runs in the last decade and eighth all-time.

In baseball the number of career home runs needed to reach baseball immortality used to be 500. Thanks to baseball’s “Steroid Era” and the sudden rise of sluggers eclipsing that mark, that magic number now appears to be 600 career homers. That club just got a little larger on Monday night as Jim Thome became the eighth player in baseball history to reach 600 career home runs.

Since becoming a full-time starter for the Cleveland Indians in 1994, Jim Thome has been one of the most prolific and consistent sluggers in baseball while leaving the headlines and accolades to others.

He eclipsed the 40 home run plateau six times and hit 52 in 2002, but never finished higher than fourth in the MVP balloting and earned only five trips to the All-Star game.

Because his greatest talent was hitting home runs during a time when that skill was no longer unique, Thome has often been pushed aside as a product of his time.

However, unlike many of the other sluggers of his era, even though his career started right about the time that performance enhancing drugs began to engulf baseball, there has never been any evidence or accusations linking Thome’s home run proficiency to use of a synthetic product.

Yet, it has taken him nearing the 600 home run plateau for many baseball fans to even acknowledge that Thome belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Archie Griffin: 2-Time Heisman Winner
      December 11, 2022 | 1:42 pm
      Archie Griffin

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

      As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season.

      Griffin joined the Buckeyes for the 1972 season, which happened to be the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football, and made an immediate impact. After fumbling in his only carry of his first game, Griffin more than made up for it in his second game by rushing for 237 yards against North Carolina. By the end of the season, Griffin had rushed for 867 yards.

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