Thome humbled to be getting a statue
Slugger will be immortalized at unannounced location at Progressive Field
CLEVELAND -- There are certain childhood dreams that can eventually become realistic goals. Plenty of kids dream about becoming ballplayers, and those who do then dream about sticking in the big leagues and maybe becoming a household name.
Jim Thome never fathomed he would get a statue.
The Indians will unveil one of their longtime slugger this summer at Progressive Field.
"It's going to be pretty awesome," Thome said. "How do you ever imagine when you play this game, getting an opportunity to have an organization put a statue up? I'm a little lost for words, to be honest. As a player, I don't even want to say you dream of that."
Thome was in attendance on the first day of Tribe Fest on Saturday, when Cleveland announced its promotional schedule for the upcoming season. The highlight of this year's events includes the ceremony to honor Thome on Aug. 2, when a select number of fans will also receive a replica of the statue that will stand at an unannounced location at the Tribe's ballpark.
Twice in the past year, Thome has visited sculptor David Eming of Lakewood to see the progress. In his most recent visit, the former Indians stalwart was blown away by what he saw.
"When I walked in, I just couldn't believe it," Thome said. "It's much bigger than all of us."
The rest of the Indians' promotional schedule includes four bobblehead and four jersey giveaways, along with 15 fireworks nights (the two-day Rock N' Blast event will be held Aug. 15-16), 15 RTA Raley Alley days, 13 Sugardale Dollar Dog Nights, 10 dates for KeyBank Kids Fun Days and the return of puppypalooza.
This summer's bobbleheads will include a "Brohio" edition, featuring Nick Swisher (May 31), plus one for Jason Kipnis (July 8), Michael Bourn (June 3) and former Tribe pitcher Orel Hershiser (May 3). The jersey giveaways will include manager Terry Francona (Aug. 23), Kenny Lofton (July 12), Larry Doby (on the July 5 anniversary of his becoming the first black player in the American League) and Omar Vizquel (on June 21, when he will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame).
There will also be a fan-designed T-shirt giveaway on Sept. 6. Fans can submit ideas beginning on Jan. 27 and a fan vote will determine the winner. More information on that promotion can be found at indians.com/TShirtDesign and the full promotional schedule can be found on indians.com.
As for the statue bearing Thome's likeness, the Indians' all-time home run leader (337 of his 612 home runs came with the Tribe) said the rendering will feature him pointing his bat toward the mound. That signature part of his stance was the brainchild of former Indians manager Charlie Manuel, who got the idea from Roy Hobbs, a character played by actor Robert Redford in the movie, "The Natural."
"Charlie had seen a clip of Roy Hobbs," Thome said. "And Roy Hobbs had pointed the bat. I got in the box and everything was tense, everything was tight. He wanted to create that relaxing feeling in the box, so pointing the bat did that. It got my trigger ready to hit."
Thome will join Indians legend Bob Feller as the only players honored with a statue at the ballpark.
"I always looked at Feller," Thome said. "Looking at Feller's statue, you appreciate the player, but [also] the fact that it's up all year round. People can come see it. If you were their favorite player, maybe they're passing the memory like that along to a kid or to a family [member].
"It's humbling. I don't think you can ever put in words what that means to somebody to be given that opportunity."