Former ICC Cougar Jim Thome Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame
Former Illinois Central College Cougar and then Major League Baseball slugger Jim Thome has been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of the game’s greatest to set foot on the diamond.
Thome, along with Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris and Alan Trammell, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 during Sunday’s ceremony in Cooperstown, New York.
When the Peoria native was not drafted into the majors after high school, Thome decided to play baseball and basketball at ICC in the 1988-89 season before being scouted and then signed to the Cleveland Indians to make his MLB debut in 1991. Thome would go on to be one of the game’s greatest hitters and ended his career with 612 home runs, 1,699 RBIs, and 4,667 hits out of his 8,422 at bats.
A statement from the ICC Athletics Department:
“Jim Thome’s story is that of so many ballplayers here in Central Illinois. Even at ICC, people weren’t sure which sport, basketball or baseball, was Jim’s best. But, as we’ve seen time and again, Jim’s talent showed through on the diamond. Tom Couston, then the area scout for Cleveland and now a scouting supervisor for the Tampa Bay Ray’s, saw enough to make Jim a 13th-round draft pick after his freshman year as a Cougar. With the combination of talent, determination and humility that he learned growing up in Central Illinois, Jim achieved what so many youngsters dream of — a long and successful career in Major League Baseball. This weekend’s events in Cooperstown, New York, confirm what we here at Illinois Central College already know — Jim Thome ranks among baseball’s best ever. Congratulations, Jim, we could not be prouder of you!”
Thome would go on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles before retiring in 2012.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Thome is one of eight players in MLB history to have at least 500 home runs, a .400 on-base percentage and a .550 slugging average. He shares this achievement with Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Manny Ramirez, Mickey Mantle, Frank Thomas and Jimmie Foxx.
It’s no wonder, Thome, after 2,543 games played in the majors and named an All-Star five times, is one of the greatest players to play the game.