On the night his statue was unveiled at Progressive Field, Jim Thome made the following official announcement:
“I haven’t officially retired yet. I always had hope that I could do it as a Cleveland Indian. This afternoon I signed an honorary one-day contract so that I can make a dream come true. I’m humbled and grateful to announce after a 25-year career I am officially retiring tonight as a member of the Cleveland Indians.”
The news comes as a gentle surprise to Tribe fans everywhere, though not entirely unexpected. Thome was a fan favorite in Cleveland for many years, and is the last member of the 1997 American League Championship-winning team to officially retire. Originally a 13th-round draft pick of the Tribe, he made his big-league debut in 1991, and from there he spent 12 years in Cleveland, followed by 3 years with the Phillies, 3.5 years with the White Sox, a year with the Twins, and a year split between the Phillies and the Orioles.
Over the course of roughly 2,500 games in the major leagues, Thome accumulated over 10,000 plate appearances. During his illustrious career, he hit .276/.402/.554 and smacked 612 home runs, good for 7th-most in baseball history. 337 of those home runs were for the Indians, which is still the franchise record. Fangraphs rates him at 67.7 WAR for his career. He was intentionally walked 177 times.