Indians to unveil Jim Thome statue in August

CLEVELAND (AP) — When Jim Thome first started pointing
his bat toward the pitcher, he never imagined that subtle movement would
one day become immortalized.
The Indians announced Saturday that
they will unveil a statue of Thome at Progressive Field on Aug. 2.
Cleveland’s career leader in home runs will be forever honored with the
statue, which depicts him standing in the batter’s box and directing his
bat toward the mound. Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller is the only other
Cleveland player to also be honored with a statue outside the ballpark.
Thome never could have imagined such a tribute, and is humbled by the salute.
"As
a player, I don’t even want to say you dream of that," said Thome, who
retired in 2012 with 612 career homers. "When it happens, when the
opportunity comes about, it’s humbling. It’s just a wonderful thing. My
family is just ecstatic about it."
One of Cleveland’s most popular
players, Thome hit 337 homers with the Indians. He broke in with the
club as a slender third baseman in 1991 and developed into one of
baseball’s most feared hitters.
Early in his career, Cleveland
minor league hitting coach Charlie Manuel, who went on to manage
Philadelphia to a World Series title, suggested to Thome that he should
point his bat at the pitcher to loosen him up before hitting.
Manuel got the idea after watching Robert Redford’s character Roy Hobbs in the film "The
Natural."
"Charlie
had seen a clip of Roy Hobbs pointing the bat," Thome said. "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 had two stints with the
Indians. He played with the club from 1991-2002 before signing as a free
agent with Philadelphia. He also played for the White Sox, Dodgers,
Twins and Orioles before retiring in 2012.
Thome is currently working as a special assistant with the White Sox.
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