Sunday, February 22, 2009
#5: Jim Thome - Star Rookie
After much hand-wringing and twelve rounds of disappointment, members of Camp Thome breathed a collective sigh of relief when Jim, a 1989 graduate of Cleveland Indians High School in Peoria, Illinois, was finally drafted in the 13th by, guess who, the Cleveland Indians. Eschewing the traditional practice of shedding one's letterman's jacket following graduation, Jim was afforded a measure of carryover status as he reported to his first big league organization.
Thome actually spearheaded the campaign for C.I.H.S. to continue using the Chief Wahoo mascot and emblems, running afoul of representatives of the Kickapoo tribe requesting removal of the demeaning and racially insensitive caricature. Last-minute under-the-table dealings and intensive negotiations prevented the Indians from being changed to the Songbirds.
On an unrelated note, Thome struggled for his first few weeks of A-ball, having repeatedly been called out for being in violation of Rule 1.10 (a), specifically, "The bat shall be...not more than 42 inches in length." Thome was reluctant to change, but eventually got used to the practice of bringing one bat, not two, to the plate.