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Jim Thome hit his 600th career home run during the seventh inning Monday night against the Tigers.

Duane Burleson, Associated Press

Thome slugs home run No. 600

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • August 16, 2011 - 7:04 AM

DETROIT - As the historic baseball landed behind the left field fence at Comerica Park on Monday, Twins slugger Jim Thome pumped his right fist and floated around the bases as his mind raced with different thoughts.

"I thought of my [deceased] mother [Joyce]. She must have been looking down on us and being there with us," he said. "And just that it's over, the journey, the buildup and the hype. To get it over with is a sigh of relief. You work so hard, fought some injures all year long and you envision [if] it is ever going to happen.

"You don't know. At 40 years old, approaching 41, you don't know."

Well 40 is supposed to be the new 30. Thome has power as if he's 25. And he's the newest member of the 600 home run club.

Thome broke down the door to the club with two home runs and five RBI, helping the Twins beat the Tigers 9-6. He hit a two-run homer off righthanded starter Rick Porcello in the sixth inning, then hit No. 600 off of lefthanded reliever Daniel Schlereth in the seventh to make history.

Thome is the eighth player in major league history to hit 600 home runs in his career. The future Hall of Famer joins an elite group that includes Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.

Thome is the first player since Rodriguez to join the 600 club. A-Rod did it Aug. 10, 2010.

At 40 years and 353 days old, he's easily is the oldest player to swat his 600th home run. Sosa was 38 years and 220 days old when he hit No. 600.

"I never tried to take it for granted," Thome said. "I never once said, 'This is going to happen.' I never thought that from Day 1. Now to sit here with you guys, it's pretty special."

The burly slugger from Peoria, Ill., sat in an interview room with a towel slung over left shoulder as he talked about the moment, his family and his teammates.

After hitting No. 599 in the sixth, Thome didn't have to wait long for the next one.

With Trevor Plouffe on third, Justin Morneau on first and the Twins protecting a 6-5 lead, Thome took a fastball low, a curveball low and inside and another curve for a strike. He pointed his bat toward center field -- like he's done thousands of times before pitches during his career -- brought it back into his stance and waited for the next one.

Schlereth came in with another breaking ball, this one down but over the middle of the plate. Thome unleashed his vicious swing and sent a high drive to left, high enough to make Harmon Killebrew proud.

"He went down and went oppo," Morneau said. "Only have seen that swing a few hundred times."

Detroit outfielder Delmon Young, traded by the Twins earlier in the day, scrambled back to the fence. Did he have a play?

"If Delmon would have caught that one, I might have went out there personally and kicked his tail," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Young said earlier in the day that he was worried he wouldn't see Thome hit No. 600. He ended up with the best view in the park.

Thome pumped his right fist as he touched first base. Twins players threw their arms in the air and spilled out of the visitors dugout. After a moment to absorb the fact that their team had just given up a three-run homer, the announced crowd of 36,211 rose to its feet and cheered.

A young fan behind the visitors dugout, dressed in Tigers gear, held up a sign that read, "Thome is my Homie."

Morneau and Michael Cuddyer were first among Twins players to hug Thome after he touched home plate. "We've had the privilege to watch something not too many people in the game get to see," Gardenhire said. "That's the 600th home run from a very special person and a great player."

Thome's father Chuck, wife Andrea and children Lila and Landon were allowed onto the field to share the moment with of the most feared sluggers in baseball history.

Back in the dugout, Thome remained in dreamland and he sat next to Cuddyer on the bench.

"I said '600' about six times and he just looked at me and I just looked at him like, unbelievable," Cuddyer said. "He kept saying how surreal it is."

The Twins toasted Thome after the game, as several rounds of applause broke out as Gardenhire spoke in his office. Thome then headed to the interview room, where he acknowledged those close to him for what they meant to him on a historic night in Detroit.

"That's what this moment is all about," he said, "sharing the moment with teammates, with family and with good people."

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