CHICAGO - The accomplishment was bittersweet for White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome in the home clubhouse Friday night.
Just hours earlier, Thome had passed Reggie Jackson for 12th place on the all-time home run list. Ultimately, however, Thome's blast was the only offense in a 5-1 defeat in the series opener against the Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field.
"You want to do it in a win, but it's nice, and it's a neat thing," Thome said. "It's humbling. But you want to do it in a win."
Thome surpassed Jackson's mark of 563 home runs with one of his customary prodigious blasts. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Thome clobbered a 1-0 offering from Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie 412 feet to dead center, his 23rd home run of the season and the 564th home run of his career. The dinger tied the game at 1.
But the White Sox managed just four hits the rest of the way and could not push across another run.
"You play that long and have the kind of career that he has, he will pass a lot of guys," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Passed Reggie, the only thing you can do is just have one step to the Hall of Fame. I bet you, if Thome was 0-for-4 and we won the game, I think he'd feel a little bit better because that's the kind of player he is."
Thome, who turns 39 next week, passed Mike Schmidt (548 homers) earlier this season and continues to climb the rankings. Next on the list is Rafael Palmeiro, who stands at 11th all-time with 569 home runs.
On Friday, however, Thome wasn't all that interested in reflecting on his achievements.
"It's one of them things, I think when you look back some day, for sure you're going to look back and go, 'Wow,'" Thome said. "It's a neat thing and you respect those guys. You respect what they've done. They're the greatest players of all time, and to do that, it's tough. It's tough to sit back and think about the names that you tie and you pass. Again, it's very humbling, but the focus here is to win, and if you do those things, yes they're great and you feel proud of them, but ultimately, it's about winning."
Jesse Temple is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.