The Funniest Jim Thome Story Ever Told

elephantbasepathRedCleats
It’s an Indian elephant. Get it?

This was originally going to be a postscript to my fifth “A History of Cleveland, OH in 50 Objects” entry, on Jim Thome’s socks. But that ended up with another, much more relevant postscript, so this story gets its own page.

In the late 1990s, during the radio pre-game show for Sunday afternoon home games, the Cleveland Indians used to air a short program called “Omar y Amigos (Omar and Friends).” Hosted by then-Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, the show featured Vizquel interviewing other baseball players, either from the Indians roster or from the visiting team, in front of an audience of lucky kids.

One Sunday, Omar’s guest was Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton. During the Q&A portion of the show, a small child — he sounded 4, maybe 5 years old — became overwhelmed and nervous as he asked Lofton his question, until words just started tumbling out, one on top of the other: “If you could run like any animal, what animal wouldyou…doyouthinkyouwouldrunlikeanelephantorsomeother…?”

What?” asked Lofton.

Omar happily jumped in: “An elephant? Oh, no, you’re thinking of Jim Thome, man.”

This was not necessarily an insult; it’s just that Thome was never particularly noted for his running game.*

Although, to be fair, it should be pointed out that in 1996, Thome led the club in triples, with 5.

Imagine that: Jim Thome — famous for triples.

 

*I have vague, unconfirmed memories of a joking bet between Thome and Indians infielder John McDonald: if McDonald –not known for his bat, especially — hit a home run, Thome would steal a base. However, it is a matter of record that during the 2002 season, John McDonald hit exactly one [1] home run and Jim Thome stole exactly one [1] base, and you could look it up.

 

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