Thome happy for Manny's milestone
White Sox, Boston sluggers formed bond playing in Cleveland
ST. PETERSBURG -- Watching Manny Ramirez reach 500 career home runs via a blast to right-center off Baltimore reliever Chad Bradford on Saturday night was like watching a family member achieve ultimate greatness for Jim Thome.
The two played together as major parts of the vaunted Cleveland attack from 1993-2000, so it's easy to see how a brotherly sort of relationship formed between Thome and Ramirez. But watching Ramirez make history in the seventh inning of Boston's victory gave Thome a heightened awareness of his own membership in the 500-homer club. A feat he achieved on Sept. 16, 2007.
"It's cool to turn on the TV and watch someone from afar accomplish that," said Thome, who became the first Major Leaguer to reach 500 home runs in walk-off fashion with a shot off the Angels' Dustin Moseley. "It shows you when you accomplish that yourself how special it is.
"As it's going on, you are fighting the fight, trying to get there, dealing with the hecticness of when and where it's going to happen and is your family going to be there. Watching it from afar, looking at it, it makes you hold your head up high and go, 'You know what, you are part of that.' It's cool, really cool."
Thome mentioned how Ramirez clearly stood out as a special player from the first day he watched him in action. Ramirez had great balance, an even greater worth ethic and was able to make adjustments early on against pitchers.
"We hit so much that he even took it to next level," Thome said. "It's great. You look back at your career and to accomplish 500 home runs is remarkable. And to do it with a guy as a teammate, it's really that much more special.
"Ultimately, you've been a part of it, being there on deck and watching it and feeding off of each other all those years when we were there," Thome added.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen handed out kudos to Ramirez for his special moment. Guillen also invoked a familiar refrain when asked about Ramirez's unique personality that he brings to the game.
"Like I say, 'Manny is Manny,'" Guillen said. "Some people don't like the way Manny is at the plate. Manny likes to have fun. Some people don't like the players to have fun."
Guillen also believes 500 home runs punch an automatic ticket to Cooperstown as part of Baseball's Hall of Fame. It's true for Frank Thomas. It's true for Thome and Ramirez. It's true for any other hitter who joins the 24 players in total who already have reached 500.
In fact, Guillen believes lofty targets such as 500 home runs and 300 victories won't be the benchmarks for greatness in years to come.
"Pretty soon, the Hall of Fame is going to put people there with 300 home runs," Guillen said. "I'm telling you, and guys with 200 [wins]. I say this and people think I'm crazy.
"They go down because pitching will be better. Three hundred wins? That's a lot of wins. Five hundred home runs? That's a lot of home runs. I don't think players are going to last that long to get a lot of numbers."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.