White Sox marvel at Thome's accomplishment

White Sox marvel at Thome's accomplishment

White Sox marvel at Thome's accomplishment
CHICAGO -- With the White Sox having an off-day on Monday, some of Jim Thome's ex-teammates and manager Ozzie Guillen were able to watch the former White Sox designated hitter slug his milestone 600th home run on TV.

While witnessing that moment as it happened was special for catcher A.J. Pierzynski, he admitted he still would have rather seen Thome do it in person, even if that meant Thome hitting a couple long balls against the White Sox.

"He's one of the best teammates, one of the best guys I've ever played with," Pierzynski said. "I'm proud to call him a teammate and a friend. It's great. He's a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy and I wish him nothing but the best. I wish he would have done it against us. It would have been cool to congratulate him in person."

That was the case for Thome's 500th career home run, which came while he was a member of the White Sox on a walk-off shot against Dustin Moseley of the Angels on Sept. 16, 2007, at U.S. Cellular Field. That blast also came on Jim Thome Bobblehead Day, prompted three curtain calls from the home crowd and ended with teammates Bobby Jenks and Jermaine Dye hoisting the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Thome into the air.

Monday's celebration included on-field greetings by his father, Chuck, wife, Andrea, and their two kids, Lila and Landon, which was similar to the 2007 celebration. But while Monday night made for a special moment for the Thome family, the consensus around the White Sox locker room was that not enough was made out of the slugger's most recent accomplishment.

"You knew he was going to get it eventually, but I just feel like -- I don't know why -- if a guy threw a no-hitter, you'd see it around everywhere," designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "I don't feel like this 600 home runs is getting publicized enough, especially leading up to it. I know what kind of accomplishment it is and that number. ... I hope people realize what that number means because that's a special thing he did."

In his time with the White Sox from 2006-09, Thome belted 134 home runs and earned the respect and admiration of teammates, management, media, fans and just about anyone else he crossed paths with. Starter John Danks admitted he was star-struck by Thome when he arrived in the Chicago clubhouse in 2007, and called him "the most genuine, nicest guy" he had ever met.

"This guy is a very special man in baseball," Guillen said. "When you're good at something, people hate you, for whatever reason. Or somebody out there hates you or doesn't like you or gets jealous. I think Jim Thome is one of the few people, few athletes, that everybody loves."

For White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who sat eight home runs shy of 400 entering play on Tuesday, the number 600 represents a mind-blowing number that takes consistency, longevity and talent to accomplish.

"Five hundred is one thing, but 600 is amazing," said Konerko, who started the Bring Me Home campaign with Jim and Andrea Thome to promote the needs of foster children. "You've got to be doing it for a long time. Start early, start young, and do it until you're 40, 41, and never stop in the middle. It's pretty impressive."

"A lot of people around here have met him and said it, but I haven't met a finer person in the game and a person that I've been happier for," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. "It's just, he's just genuine and that brought a smile to my face, and I couldn't stop watching it over and over and over again and still can't today."

Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.