Baseball is a part of every young man’s life growing up. From playing catch in the yard with Dad to little league games where I became afraid of the ball (it happened), and of course, to watching the Cleveland Indians, it makes childhood memories that last a lifetime.

I grew up adoring Cleveland sports as a whole and those summers watching particularly bad Indians teams of the 2000s were special.

Personally, I was too young to remember the vast majority of Jim Thome’s career in Cleveland, but I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end of it as I became a fan of the Tribe. His last year in The land, 2002, he blasted 52 homers and 118 RBI.

There’s something special about every time the home run hitter comes to the plate, especially when you are a little kid. Each time Thome came to bat, his huge frame dominating the box as he stretched the wood out waiting for the pitch, there was always a chance that ball would go a long, long way.

Thome left the Indians for more money in 2003 and while some consider him a traitor, I believe that enough time has passed that we must forgive and remember the good times.

Honestly, thinking back to Thome reminds me of bike rides with my late grandfather where we’d have to race home so I could catch the Indians game that day. It reminds me of watching my father play softball and thinking of him as my very own Jim Thome. Baseball transcends into every family in some way or another.

I remember trading a Barry Bonds baseball card for a Jim Thome rookie card with a friend, considering it an absolute steal. One was a steroid user and the other was a hero of mine.

Most of Thome’s greatness came before I was born, but the memory of his playing days here in Cleveland live on through his statue and now his induction into the Hall of Fame. I still to this day have no idea how the Indians teams of the 90’s did not win a World Series, but damn were they fun to watch (on YouTube).

The names Lofton, Vizquel, Belle, Ramirez and of course, Thome are etched in history forever.

In 2011, Jim came back for a brief stint with the Tribe. It was amazing to see it come full circle. He only hit three home runs but just seeing him in that Cleveland uniform was a thrill now as a teenager.

Here in 2018, we have a home run hitting club with Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor cranking them out like crazy. But there was something about a Thome home run that was different. Maybe it was that I was just a little boy idolizing the greatness or that he had that home run hitter’s batting stance and swing.

But it was special.

Thank you, Jim, for helping to make me an Indians fan for life. Congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction and thank you for representing the Indians in such a positive way.

Image: MLB

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