Jim Thome was a long shot to re-sign with the Cleveland Indians. In Travis Hafner the Indians already had a power-hitting left-handed no-fielding designated hitter, so Thome didn’t have a clear place on the roster for 2012, and it wouldn’t have been worth it to the Tribe to offer him a competitive deal on the free agent market.
But while it was expected that he would move on this winter and it made sense for the Indians to let him go, as a fan it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed about his agreeing to a $1.25 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies—the same team that lured him out of town nine years ago.
As every Tribe fan already knows, Thome’s return this August wasn’t just about a team struggling to stay in the pennant race adding a booming bat. He’s a local hero and one of the—if not the—most beloved figures in Cleveland sports history, and his homecoming (well not really, since he’s from Peoria) was a dream come true for Indians fans nostalgic for the glory days of the 1990’s. It was amazing to see him in a Cleveland uniform again, and even if it’s logical it’s disheartening to know that he’ll be suiting up for someone else next year.
Goodbye, Jim, and thanks for the memories.