The Phillies inducted Jim Thome into the Wall of Fame before Friday night's game. He played just four seasons with the team, but his impact was much bigger than the 101 homers he hit. His arrival before the 2003 season helped bring baseball to the front of the city's sports landscape and his presence in the clubhouse laid the foundation for the team's 2008 World Series title.
Here's his speech:
I want to thank the fans of Philadelphia for this great honor. It’s extra special knowing that I got voted in by you guys. My time here as a Phillie was short, but I loved every minute of it. Trust me. I truly loved every moment.
To these incredible, former players standing on the stage, as a player you dream of going into an alumni like this. Look at these great players, their character, their abilities and the fact that they drove and inspired everyone that came through this organization. So thank you guys.
My family, my wife Andrea, Lila, Landon, and Jerry, thanks guys for being here as you always have. It’s a great ride. Lila and Andrea, I remember you jumping up and down on 400. It was so special. Landon wasn’t thought of yet, but it’s so special now being around him and watching him play at the youth level. I love you guys.
Mom passed away shortly after I left Philadelphia and got to go to Chicago. I wanted to thank her and my father. My father couldn’t be here tonight. He had some surgery that he had to have taken care of. I always think of my parents in special ways. They have always been there since day one. I’m so blessed to have them for my whole career.
The day I signed here, they pulled out all the stops. From the Flyers game to the contractors and the electricians that we got out of the car and thanked. I knew at that moment that Philly was meant for me. It’s a special privilege to wear the red and white pinstripes. The ownership here, from Bill Giles to David Montgomery to the Middleton and Buck Families, you guys always had a good eye for putting a winner on the field. I think the most impressive part is what you do for ALS and what you give back. So thank you.
Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro for bringing me in here. I trusted those guys. They told me that they were going to build a winner and they did. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to celebrate a world championship. But, you know what? I rooted for every one of those guys. My mentor Charlie Manuel, my friend, my father figure. This man taught me everything about the game. And the night you guys celebrated, was so special to me. You have no idea. So in a way, I was a part of that. Believe it or not.
I got to play under Bowa and Vuk, who taught me what the game was and how it was to be passionate and to absolutely love the game of baseball. So Bowa, thank you.
My great teammates. You’re only as good as the team around you. Randy Wolf, Polanco, Rollins, Burrell, Abreu, Lieberthal, Millwood, Utley, Jason Michaels, David Bell, Rheal Cormier, Clay Condrey. Trust me, I enjoyed every minute of coming to the ballpark and being around you guys.
I know I’m thanking a lot of people, but I don’t want to forget anybody. The straw that stirred the drink, Greg Casterioto. Thanks for helping me with the Philly media. I always heard horror stories of the Philly media here. But they treated me fairly and I respect you guys for that. Thank you.
Jeff Cooper, who did so much research on how to get my back programed and keep me on the field along with Mark Anderson. Trust me, I played an additional eight years because of Coop and Mark. They really guided me the right way. Coop is an incredible man. Thank you.
One more. Phil Sheridan, Dan O’Rourke, Frank Coppenbarger, and Swanee. You guys made our clubhouse a home away from home. Thank you so much.
When I reflect on my time here, there are certain memories that I always think of. Those magical times were made even more so when they are called by the incredible voices of the broadcasters. I was fortunate to have one of the greats call my 400th homer. It was an honor to know Harry Kalas.
Baseball has given me so much, but what I treasure most is the friends that I made in this game. Many of them are from my time here in Philadelphia. I’m always happy to come back to this incredible city and I will continue to do it as long as I’m alive. Thank you.