Thomes share father/son moment in Cooperstown

Muder_90.jpgBy Craig Muder

Jim Thome picked up Babe Ruth‘s bat and could barely contain his excitement.

“This is amazing,” said the Chicago White Sox slugger, thrilled with his chance to touch history at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Then Thome turned toward his father, Chuck.

“I can’t believe this, Dad.”

9-10-08-Muder_Thome.jpgAnd in that instant, Thome’s expression changed from amazement to gratitude. As with countless other fathers and sons, the Thomes had bonded through baseball.

The 38-year-old Thome and his father toured the Hall of Fame last Aug. 28. Thome donated the baseball he hit for his 500th home run, and Hall of Fame officials provided Thome with a behind-the-scenes look at the archives.

Over the course of three hours, Jim Thome never stopped smiling.

“It’s surreal. It’s like a storybook coming here,” said Thome, who hit his 500th home run in 2007 and is now entering his 19th big league season. “I think every player, every baseball fan should experience this.”

Thome will likely be returning to Cooperstown in the future — as a Hall of Famer. Twenty-four players have reached the 500-home run mark in their careers, and all but one of those eligible players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Still, the humble Thome isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I don’t look at it like that. I’m just honored to be mentioned among those guys,” Thome said.

Chuck Thome, however, is thinking about it.

“I just hope he can clear that 75-percent level so I can see him get in.”

Don’t worry, Chuck — no matter what, your son’s place in history is secure.

Jim Thome — the player and the person — will always be remembered as a winner.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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