Name: Jim Thome
Position: Third base
Team: Illinois Central College Cougars
Description: 7.25 inches tall; Thome is featured in an ICC uniform and his pose features his powerful follow through. He back of his jersey features #44.
Relevance: Jim Thome was born and raised in the Peoria area. He’s a local boy that made it big!
How Acquired: A giveaway promotion at a Peoria Chiefs baseball game on June 27th, 2003.
Other Notes: Thome went to ICC after graduating from Limestone High School. He was drafted in the 13th round of the 1989 amateur draft. He got his first taste of the major leagues in 1991 and he is currently on the Baltimore Orioles roster. Thome has mashed 607 homeruns, which is good for 7th all time. He survived the “steroid era” and its accusations and in my humble opinion he’s a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.
Jim Thome is widely recognized as one of the truly good guys in all of baseball. His trophy case features the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award and the Roberto Clemente Award for good play on the field and strong work in the community.
Thome’s top charity is the Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
Bonus Trivia: When Jim Thome debuted he was the 5th youngest active player in Major League Baseball. Twenty-one years later he is now the 3rd oldest active player in MLB.
Bonus Note: I met Jim Thome in person, with my dad and sister, during the winter of 1991. He was signing autographs at a card show at the old Mark Twain Hotel in Peoria, IL, and I remember being too star-struck to mumble anything coherent to him. Heck, I was thirteen and would have given anything to be in his shoes: he was a major league baseball player from my home town!
Below is the card Thome autographed for me. It is easily one of my favorites of my collection, and it probably ranks somewhere in my Top 10.