Two of my favorite all time performers will enter two separate Hall of Fames within 60 days of one another.
Interestingly enough they each carry the first name of Jim and a last name that starts with the letters Tho. Admittedly I have not done a great deal of research here but it is ironic that Jim Thome and Jim Thorbin (isted in chronological order only) will be enshrined in Cooperstown and Lima for baseball in bowling. Thome will be enshrined this coming Sunday and Thorbin will be honored in September.
When I sit back and think of the careers of Thorbin and Thome or Thome and Thorbin if you prefer, there are parallels even more interesting than the first three letters of their last name.
Let’s go back a couple of decades say to 1998 and the birth of this column to look at a couple of interesting benchmarks.
Thome who would end his career with 612 career home runs had merely 133 home runs at that time, not bad but I really do not remember his name being in many Cooperstown conversations at that time. The closest thing may have been that his T-shirt hung in the Indians gift shop close to Cooperstown editions of the Indian tees. He clearly had some work to do.
At that same point in time Thorbin, much like Thome, was a gamer that you would love to have on your team. He was always there doing what could be done to support his teammates and gaining knowledge from others on what could be done to improve his game.
Interestingly enough, I remember Thorbin as being team oriented, even to this day and 1997 was the season that Thome left 3b and moved to first base to make room for Matt Williams to take over at third base. Williams and Thome would become a deadly tandem, while Thorbin would become a strong piece of every team that he was around.
Williams would last one season in Cleveland but around that same time Thom was becoming Mr. Indian. We were starting to believe he would be there for life that they would have to tear the jersey off his back.
Thome would go on to be a star along that timeline while Thorbin would continue to work hard at developing his skills.
Thorbin has actually evolved into one of the better bowlers in our area. He has also spend a great deal of time with Don Boyed, Brett Lee and Joe Elam with Xtreme Reaxxxion Bowling Services at 20th Century. He is almost as good preparing a ball for you as he is throwing it down the lanes.
The by-product of working in the pro-shop is the opportunity to spend time with Boyed and the other great bowlers such as Lee, Phil Austin, Steve Kniola, Shelley Ambroza, David Miller and Bob Edwards who are visitors to the business.
Honestly sometimes when I stroll into the shop I feel like I have entered the land of ‘Dan the Barber’ of Grothaus Barber Shop. Somehow this is yet another Thome parallel as the only thing that even approached slow-pitch softball conversations in that shop were Blue Jay/T-Bird conversations and Cleveland Indians baseball to include Jim Thome moments.
Where the similarity fails some may be who has the greater connection to the common man as well as availability and loyalty.
Each of us are within a foot or so of Thorbin every league night, perhaps even closer when he puts on his Michaelangelo clothes and paints your home. We have already chatted a couple of times about the upcoming entry into the bowling Hall of Fame.
As for loyalty, I really do believe you would have to rip any bowling sponsor shirt off his back. Like many I am still somewhat frustrated that Thome who labored with Yahoo on his uniform and hat will not wear Chief Wahoo in the Hall. That said I respect the man for his beliefs.
Thome did return to the Tribe in 2011 and he has a statue. He is loved by the fan base and that includes this writer. I am really looking forward to his induction and will be there sitting on my lawn chair listening to his induction speech, along with another personal favorite, Vladi Guerrero Sr. as well as Chipper Jones and Trevor Hoffman.
The parallel joy for the day belongs to Thorbin once again as he was quite happy to see Jack Morris and Alan Trammel will be inducted as well.
It indeed will be a great weekend as the elite of media will receive Hall of Fame awards on Saturday, Sheldon Ocker, a beat reporter for the Indians will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink award for meritorious service and Bob Costas will be honored with Ford C. Frick Award for baseball broadcasting.
What a great weekend … I can hardly wait.