A Goodbye to June and Jim

1 Jul

Rarely have I been so glad to see a month end as I was to say goodbye to June.  The Phillies finished the month a dismal 9-19, their worst record in any month since September of 2000.

Sadly, however, we must also say goodbye today to Jim Thome, traded on Saturday to the Baltimore Orioles for Class A catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon.

No, the trade was not surprising.  Due to Thome’s continuing back problems he really is best suited to be a designated hitter for an American League club.  And though his time wearing Phillies red may have been short this second time around, it certainly had its sweet moments.  In fact, some of the season’s best moments came courtesy of Gentleman Jim.

Moments like last Saturday’s pinch hit walk-off home run against the Tampa Bay Rays.  It was one of the rare chances the team and its fans have had reason to celebrate this season and it gave Thome’s longtime friend, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, the 900th win of his career.

He also looked like the Jim Thome of old during a nine game interleague stretch earlier this month.  As the Phillies DH, he hit .333 with two doubles, four home runs and 14 RBIs.  Playing in the field, however, proved too much for the 41-year old Thome‘s chronically ailing back so a trade seemed inevitable.  As always, he responded to the news with class and style.

“There are always emotions when you’re traded, because you have so much respect for the organization….  the guys were great, the organization was great…  It was a real, real joy and pleasure to come to the ballpark every day and sit in Charlie [Manuel’s] office and talk baseball. And getting that opportunity every night to prepare to get a big hit, I enjoyed that… I struggled at it, but I really truly enjoyed the preparation every night to get ready.”

And as fans, we enjoyed the opportunity to see Jim Thome once again wearing a Philadelphia Phillies uniform, sharing some special moments with the future Hall of Famer who makes history now almost every time he steps to the plate.

So this story will not have the fairytale ending we were all hoping for:  Jim Thome finally winning his first World Series Championship alongside manager, mentor and father figure Charlie Manuel.  And although he will now wear another team’s jersey, I know I will still root for one of the real good guys in sports.

Hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em far, Jim.  We’ll see you in Cooperstown.

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