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Indians great Jim Thome inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame

Ryan Lewis, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Baseball

The greatest power hitter in Indians history, and one of the best the game of baseball has ever seen, will have a spot in Cooperstown this July.

Jim Thome -- known for his high socks, down-to-earth attitude and a lethal left-handed swing -- was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, MLB Network announced Wednesday night. The induction ceremony will take place on July 29 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

This was Thome's first year on the ballot, and he received 89.8 percent of the vote of eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Seventy-five percent of the vote is needed for induction.

Thome is the 13th player to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame whose primary team was the Indians. He is also the first Indians player to be inducted since Larry Doby in 1998, which came via the Veterans Committee. Prior to Thome, the Indians hadn't had a primary player inducted through the BBWAA vote since Bob Lemon in 1976.

Thome also joins Bob Feller, a 1962 inductee, as the only Indians players to be inducted on the first ballot.

Thome ranks eighth all-time with 612 home runs and is one of only nine hitters to reach the 600-home run plateau. Thome finished a 22-year major-league career with a .276 average, .402 on-base percentage, .554 slugging percentage and a .956 OPS.

He led the league in home runs once -- with 47 in 2003 -- and finished in the top five eight times. He reached the 20-home run mark in 16 different seasons and hit at least 40 homers six times. Thome also holds the MLB record with 13 walk-off home runs.

And as one of the premiere sluggers during a time in which baseball was full of them, Thome is one of the few prodigious hitters of his era to never be connected to allegations of performance-enhancing drugs.

 

Across parts of 13 seasons with the Indians, Thome was one of the central pieces to the juggernaut offenses of the mid-to-late 1990s teams that made two trips to the World Series.

Thome belted a franchise record 337 home runs as a member of the Indians. He also holds the franchise record for home runs in a single season -- 52 in 2002, his last year in Cleveland before returning in 2011. And no Indians fan will forget his 511-foot shot off the Kansas City Royals' Don Wengert on July 3, 1999, which left the stadium altogether and still stands as the longest home run in park history.

Omar Vizquel, also on his first year of the ballot, received 37 percent of the vote.

(c)2018 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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