Even though Jim Thome’s career in Philadelphia was short-lived, he is still remembered fondly in the team’s lore. After spending 11 years with the Indians, he signed with the Phillies before the 2003 season, one of the biggest free agent signings in Philadelphia sports history.
Thome led the league with 47 home runs and drove in 131 runs in his first season here, finishing fourth in NL MVP voting that year. He was named an All-Star in 2004, hitting 42 home runs, driving in 105 runs, and posting a .274/.396/.581 slash line. He also mashed his 400th career home run in Citizen’s Bank Park.
Thome missed most of the 2005 season due to injury, playing just 59 games. His replacement, Ryan Howard, took advantage of the situation, hitting 22 home runs and driving in 63 runs in 88 games. He won the NL Rookie of the Year with 68% of the vote, cementing himself into the future of the team.
Thome waived his no-trade clause after the season to be sent to the White Sox, partly to clear the way for Howard but also to be closer to his father. Thome’s mother had just passed and he was worried about his father being alone.
Being traded gave the starting first base position to Howard, who followed up his rookie season by winning NL MVP with league-leading 58 home runs, 149 runs batted in, and 383 total bases.
Thome later returned in 2012, hitting his 609th career home run with the Phillies, tying him for seventh on the all-time home runs list. He finished his career with 612 home runs, 1699 runs batted in, and 2328 hits. He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2016 and the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.