08/16/11 12:39 AM ET
Thome shares milestone with family, teammates
By Chris Vannini / MLB.com
The entire Twins team and Thome's family were at home plate waiting for the slugger to touch the plate so they could congratulate him.
"It was awesome," said Michael Cuddyer, the first player to congratulate Thome at home. "It was absolutely incredible. You're just happy for him, and his family, his wife and his dad, everybody. Just everybody who makes Jim Thome who he is. So it's a very special day for him."
After hitting No. 599 earlier in the night, the possibility of No. 600 happening Monday night became real. Justin Morneau, who was standing on first base, told Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera that if Tigers pitcher Daniel Schlereth left a curveball up, Thome would hit it out. It was a low curveball, but Thome sent it into the bullpen in left field anyway.
"It was awesome," Morneau said. "As soon as he hit it, I thought it was gone especially with the way the ball was carrying out there. I think I fist-pumped around second, it was exciting, and I think he fist-pumped coming around first. It was a big home run, and a game-winner and everything that goes along with it, to make it more special."
A free agent after last season, Thome decided to re-sign with the Twins for this year, and with 600 in reach, it was special to Twins players and coaches for Thome to make history in a Minnesota uniform.
"For us, it makes it extra special, and for Jim also," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's a guy who has done a lot for a lot of different teams, and obviously for us, and has won us some ballgames. So we kind of expect that out of him, and he didn't let us down."
All the Twins players were happy for Thome, not just because of the history, but because of how good of a teammate he has been to them over the past year and a half.
"He's the nicest guy I know and the best teammate," Jason Kubel said. "He's been around for quite a while now. So I'm always trying to pick his brain and figure things out like what to expect on certain pitchers or situations to see what he'd do. So these two years have been a lot of fun with him on our team."
When asked about the Hall of Fame, Thome was flattered by the thought, but said it wasn't up to him. To Twins players, though, there's no doubt Thome belongs in Cooperstown.
"Baseball history is a major reason, but really it's more because of the person he is and the teammate is why we're so happy," Cuddyer said. "He cares so much about his teammates and that's why we care so much about him. This moment, and this achievement, deserves to be talked about for a long time."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.