Connect with us


Jim Thome shares his thoughts on baseball/life

Jim Thome was named as the 2022 Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Living Legend award. Prior to the ceremonies, Jim sat down with some of the media and shared some insights. We, at NEOSI, were there to participate with a few other outlets. 


Charlie Manuel and Jim


Bill Petrello, NEOSI: Jim, congratulations on this honor! Talk about your relationship with Charlie Manuel and if there was an AHA moment that you can share with us where things clicked with him.


Thanks, Bill. With Charlie there’s been so many great moments. As a young player, there’s always one coach or instructor that worked with you. I was fortunate that I resonated with him. We hit it off. There was the trust factor.

Photo credit,


Charlie had a great way of making things fun. He would get you to make you relax. He also knew how to motivate you and push you to become a great player. His biggest strength was he knew each player. He had a saying: Know thyself.


He knew what type of player you were or are and worked with your strengths.


If there’s one guy in the game that I really owe everything to…it’s him. He’s been a father figure, a friend and I love him. I love him to death.


I had just seen him last week in Philadelphia in game five, and [we sat] there and was really cool.


Favorite Postseason HR

NEOSI: What was your favorite post season Home Run? 



Jim: Game 5 against Atlanta. But I’ll answer it like this: all of them! They are all special. What it means. The intensity and what it means for your city.



We were fortunate in the 90’s to have a tremendous fan base as we did. And they really Charlie did…they motivated us to be great players.


Living Legend

What’s it like being named a Living Legend?


Jim: It’s an honor. It’s humbling to be a part of that great list. You walk around the museum here and you get a sense of how much thought and passion goes into all of this. It’s my first time here.


Using their product which was one of the best there is. To use it and come here you see how much care…how [the employees] love to do their job. It’s very special.


Their product is iconic. I mean…the name…Louisville Slugger… will always live forever. Every baseball player will know.

Jim Thome

This award is also for the philanthropic efforts in all the cities you played in. You are beloved in every city you played in. You and your wife, Andrea, have lived that passion of giving back and helping people in need. What’s important to you about that?


Jim: It goes back to “you don’t do it alone.” Your parents, your wife, your kids, your friends, your team. Asking questions like “What would fit well.” Or, I’m thinking about doing this. I had a great support system and an amazing wife, kind and generous.


Ultimately, you just gotta love to do it. I was just fortunate. 


The Call!

What does it mean: being a Hall of Famer?

Jim: It means a great deal. I always say this: ‘You never do it alone.’  You have great teams. I was very fortunate. I played in 6 organizations, and in all the organizations I learned from them all. All the great people I met.  


[I] sit here from this award…but it’s from [these] great team[s] as well.


“We before me!”

On the ring you will receive, you asked to have inscribed “We before me.” Can you give us a back story on that?


Jim: That was kind of our saying in Cleveland. If you do things for the team, the best side of that version will come out. Get your guy over. Set the guy up behind you. When you do that, the team succeeds.


We had some great teams in the 90s. We had some great players. All of them were great teammates. They were great because they wanted to be great, but they always thought of the team first.


“Family is everything.”

One of the great moments in Hall Of Fame acceptance speech history was when you watched your daughter sing the national anthem. What was the conversation like between you and her?


Jim: She was way more calm than me. It amazed me that her nerves were so relaxed and here I was just a nervous wreck. Family should be first in everybody. It is for us. And to watch your kid succeed and do well on that stage and on that moment…it was very special.


That ranks way up there for me, seeing how happy she was.

Jim’s Daughter



How does watching your son play compare with your daughter singing the National Anthem?


Jim: Same. I get way more nervous watching my son’s at bats than I EVER did playing the game. Again, you want [your kids] to succeed so much, but all this hard work they put in. It’s special.


Playoffs 2022 – Cleveland and Philadelphia!

Two of your former teams made pretty deep playoff runs. Do you still get excited watching that happen?


Jim: It did! Watching Cleveland, really after the All-Star break, how they played and how they pitched. Every organization is watching how Cleveland does this. They have done this for a long time. The [organization talks] about starting pitching, how they run the bases, how they hit and run.


[Cleveland has] gone back to the old traditional way the game had been played. Less home runs, but we are going to win. We are going to pitch. We are going to play defense. And they did a wonderful job.




Philly was the prototype of getting hot at the right time. They were in a great division in the East with the Mets and Braves. When you play teams in that division you will reap those rewards later in the year. And Philly’s fan base was just incredible.


The Louisville Slugger Bats

There’s a couple of you bats with you there. One of them you hit your 500th home run with. The 356 model. Tell us about that.


Jim: So that is Edgar Martinez’s model he used. When I first came to the big leagues, I used the I13. A little bigger barrel. I grabbed this bat one day and it felt really good. I tell kids today picking a bat is how it feels. If you pick it up and instantly you feel good, [then use it.] That’s what this bat did [for me].


Thome bats

Bill Petrello, NEOSI


It was a [smaller] barrel than the I13, but when I hit a ball in this area here (he motioned to the top of the bat) I can still hit a home run and not get jammed. It just resonated with me when I first picked it up.


Today’s game!


What do you think of the state of the game today?


Jim: I think the state is great. If you watched the playoffs this year, there was tremendous baseball. The new format gave some teams the opportunities to get in. And think about it. Getting in is THE #1 goal. Just look at the Phillies!


They get in and go to the World Series!


The shift? I wish they had done that when I played. [Much laughter!] All in all, we are trying to make the game better.


Lindor, Harper, deGrom

Who are some of the players today you like to watch play?


Jim: I have always enjoyed Lindor when he was  in Cleveland and now New York. Mike Trout. Bryce Harper. How do you NOT love to watch [Jacob] deGrom pitch? When he’s on the mound, the game will move quick. He attacks the strike zone. I love watching good middle infielders turn a double play. There is nothing better than seeing those kids from Cleveland, to be honest. They have done a great job up the middle and the hit and run.


Andres Jiminez and Ahmed Rosario



This kid, Jeremy Pena, who hit and run during the World Series, it was magnified. It was [plays like that] in our game that we need, and the fans embraced that!


From your gut, what’s Aaron Judge doing next year? [Laughter]


Jim: I don’t know. He had a great year and is a great player. The game of baseball now is great because Aaron Judge is a great human being. He really is…has impressed me from day one…has handled himself very well. He’s a really good kid.


What about Albert Pujols?


Jim: Same thing. What a great story! To be able to have Albert come back to St Louis. Honestly, I think it motivated him and drove him to do that for the fans and his family. It was great to watch!


The Stance

NEOSI: Jim you still have kids in Cleveland and Chicago using your iconic stance. Tell everyone how that came about!

Jim: That came from Charlie. I was real stiff and had very little rhythm from a hitting end. He wanted me to be relaxed. Pointing the bat helped.


We were in Scranton and we were watching The Natural. And Charlie said, “Hey, why don’t you just try this. Like move the bat a little bit.” So we went out and tried this and it felt amazing. That’s when he moved me onto the plate. It felt great.


I tell kids when you try [something new] write it down. Remember these things. The success which happened after? That was the cool part. All the work we put in before.

Thome joins a select list of previous Louisville Slugger award winners like Derek Jeter, Johnny Bench, and Ken Griffey, Jr. 

The event was also in conjunction with the 19th Annual Live Auctions at Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory sponsored by Hunt Auctions.

I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Show Your Team Spirit

NEO Sports Insiders Newsletter

Sign up to receive our NEOSI newsletter, and keep up to date with all the latest Cleveland sports news.

Recent Comments


More in Main