Over 22 big league seasons with six teams, Jim Thome was Paul Bunyan with a bat. The five-time All-Star clubbed 612 home runs, played in two World Series and won both a Roberto Clemente Award and a Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
On Wednesday, Thome stood at home plate on the Limestone (Ill.) High School baseball field as the road nearby was being dedicated in his honor. And according to one of the baseball’s all-time great sluggers, seeing Route 24 between his hometown of Peoria and Bartonville renamed “Jim Thome Highway” ranks right up there in his accomplishment pecking order.
“Words can’t describe what this means,” said Thome, 46, as his father, Chuck, and brothers and sisters gathered around him at home plate, where they stood next to the road sign that soon will be installed.
“As a kid you don’t ever dream of going through the journey that I personally have lived. It’s quite something, I have to tell you. I’ve been blessed to get some awards, and this will go down as right up top, if not THE top.”
According to The State Journal-Register, the ceremony was set up as a nine-inning baseball game format and the national anthem was sung.
Oh, also, a nice rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
Quite the feather in the cap of a great career.