Powell: Not Many are More Deserving of the Hall of Fame than Jim Thome


Jim Thome, Mayor Garry Manier of Washington

By Kevin Powell

I met Jim Thome about four years ago, a few months after a massive F4 tornado caused devastating damage to Washington, IL and the surrounding area. Washington is just a short drive east of Peoria. Thome, a Peoria native, was there to lend a hand to the people impacted by the tornado.

At the time, I was producing for WGN Radio’s morning show, the Steve Cochran Show, and we were broadcasting live from a car dealership in Washington. We had the mayor of the town on. The Blackhawks sent down members of the organization. Local’s joined the show to talk about how the tornado affected their lives.

It was sort of like a big rally for the town, months after the devastation. About midway through the show, Thome walks in to the dealership. I could not believe the size of the man. There’s a reason he’s nicknamed Mr. Incredible.

Thome could not have been nicer. He shook hands, signed autographs and took pictures with everyone. And it was also announced then that immediately following the tornado, Thome had reached out to the mayor of Washington and donated $100,000 of his own money to relief efforts.

“Growing up in Peoria, last November when the devastation happened, it really hit home,” Thome said at the time. “When it affects your home and the people around you, it was just incredible.”

Thome is a good guy. Plain and simple. That’s why it’s extra special to see the lefty slugger get elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In his 22 major-league seasons, Thome hit .276 with 451 doubles, 612 home runs and 1,699 RBI’s. He’ll head into the Hall as a member of the Indians, but he enjoyed some monumental moments in a White Sox uniform.

I’ll never forget his Opening Night homer in 2006, his first game with the Sox. He smacked his 500th homer, a walkoff, at US Cellular Field. And Sox fans will forever remember his dramatic 7th inning go-ahead homer in the Blackout Game in 2008 against the Twins.

Thome put up incredible numbers in his career, but it’s tough to find a more considerate, down-to-earth guy in professional sports.

Congratulations, Jim.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720