Jim Thome was officially inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
The slugger was one of six 2018 class members to be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, along with Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Alan Tramell, Trevor Hoffman and Jack Morris.
After a 22-year MLB career, Thome finished eighth all-time in home runs with 612. The five-time All-Star also drove in 1,699 runs and had a career slash line of .276/.402/.554.
And one of the first people Thome thanked in his speech for playing a part in the illustrious career that landed him in Cooperstown? Charlie Manuel.
"From the moment I met Charlie Manuel as a wide-eyed kid in the Gulf Coast League, I knew this was someone I could connect with instantly," Thome said. "Charlie took a scrappy young kid who was anxious to hit a million home runs and actually encouraged those crazy dreams. He told me I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to. From Day 1 in that dugout in Kissimmee, he always believed in me."
Thome was a 13th-round selection by the Indians in the 1989 draft and Manuel was one of his managers during his time in Cleveland's minor league system. In 1993 it was actually Manuel who, after watching Robert Redford's character, Roy Hobbs, in The Natural, came up with the idea for Thome to point his bat at the pitcher in an effort to slow down and ease the tension in his batting stance load.
"Chuck, I'll never forget the day you called me in your office in Scranton," Thome said. " You had this idea that I could benefit from what Roy Hobbs was doing. Little did I know that day in Pennsylvania would change everything for me. From that day on, all we did was work, work, and work some more. You know I wouldn't be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything, but most of all thank you for your loyalty."
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"You know I wouldn't be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything."
An emotional Jim Thome thanks Charlie Manuel in his Hall of Fame induction speech. #HOFWKND pic.twitter.com/XhCSCOpQ4I— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 29, 2018
Manuel and Thome also crossed paths at the major league level, as Manuel was made the Indians' hitting coach in 1994 and then elevated to the managerial position from 2000-02. Thome, who went into the Hall of Fame as a member of the Indians, hit 337 of his career homers in his 13 seasons in Cleveland.
Following the 2002 season, Thome signed a six-year deal with the Phillies. He hit 47 and 42 home runs in his first two seasons in Philly before an injury-riddled 2005 campaign when he only appeared in 59 games, which was Manuel's first season as the Phillies' manager. With fellow first baseman Ryan Howard also having won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005, Thome was dealt in the subsequent offseason to the White Sox.
"Cleveland is where my career was born, but Philadelphia is where I had to grow up fast," Thome said. "I needed every single tool in my toolbox in Philly. The city welcomed me with open arms from the moment those electricians met us wearing those hardhats. The fans couldn't have been better. Larry Bowa was the manager and he was tough as nails. He pushed me and our team to a whole new level. Thanks, Bow and the front office of Philly. First class all the way. David Montgomery, Bill Giles alongside Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. made my time there so meaningful."
Thome would go on to play seven more seasons for six different teams following the trade, even returning for short second stints with the Indians in 2011 and the Phillies 2012, reuniting with Manuel one last time. That 2012 season would be Thome's last in the majors, as he finished it at age 42. He officially retired in 2014 as an Indian after signing a one-day contract with Cleveland.
"I'm so honored to be a part of something so special, something greater than the individual," Thome said as he closed his speech Sunday. "It's been my great privilege to have played the game for as long as I did and I can say this with certainty: The possibilities are just as important as the outcome. In living the dream that is Major League Baseball, the best part is not the result, but taking the journey with the people whose contributions make it all possible. Baseball is beautiful, and I am forever in its service."
You can watch Thome's full speech here.