|Harry How/Getty Images
The Cleveland Indians announced Saturday that they will unveil a statue of former player Jim Thome at Cleveland’s Progressive Field on August 2 of this year. Thome, who played two stints (1991-2002, 2011) with the Indians over his 22-year career, is the Indians’ all time leader in home runs (337) and one of their most popular players ever. Only one other Cleveland player, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller, has received the same honor.
The statue is going to be a depiction of Thome in the batter’s box directing his bat towards the pitcher. The stance was inspired by Robert Redford’s character, Roy Hobbs, in the movie The Natural. While in coming up in Cleveland’s minor league system his hitting coach, Charlie Manuel, suggested the stance to Thome as a way to loosen him up while at the plate. It certainly worked for Thome. He told members of the Associated Press,
Charlie had seen a clip of Roy Hobbs pointing the bat. When I got in the box, I was tense, everything was tight. He wanted to create that relaxing feeling in the box for me and pointing the bat did that. It got my trigger ready to hit.
Thome is humbled and honored by the Indians’ tribute to him saying,
As a player, I don’t even want to say you dream of that. When it happens, when the opportunity comes about, it’s humbling. It’s just a wonderful thing. My family is just ecstatic about it.
Besides his two stints with the Indians, Thome also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago White Sox, the Lost Angeles Dodgers, the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles. He retired in 2012 with a total 612 home runs (seventh all-time) being one of only eight players to ever hit over 600 home runs in their career.
Thome now works as a special assistant to the White Sox.