You cannot possibly tell the story of the 2010 Minnesota Twins, or the history of Target Field without Hall of Famer Jim Thome.
In January of 2010, the Minnesota Twins signed 39-year-old slugger Jim Thome. Thome, who was coming off a 2009 season split between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit a combined 23 home runs with 77 runs batted in between both clubs.
Thome returned to the AL Central in 2010 and won over the hearts of Minnesota Twins fans by enjoying a solid season, with a few record breaking moments in the process.
When the Twins opened Target Field on April 12, 2010 it was the third time Thome was a part of a team that opened a new stadium. In 1994, Thome, not yet a full-time starter, was a member of the Cleveland Indians when they opened Jacobs Field. And in 2004, Thome, a superstar infielder, was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies when they opened Citizens Bank Ballpark.
Coming into the 2010 season, Thome sat at 564 career home runs, only nine shy of Minnesota Twins all-time great Harmon Killebrew. However, before passing Killebrew, he had to pass Rafael Palmeiro.
On June 19th, in his former home ballpark in Philadelphia, Thome blasted career home run number 570, breaking the tie for 11th on the all-time home run list. That home run also achieved another milestone for Thome, as with the homer, Thome has homered against all 30 MLB teams in his career.
Less than a month later, on July 3rd, Thome cracked a second inning home run, off then Tampa Bay Rays starter Wade Davis, to tie Killebrew at career home run 573. However, Thome wasted no time in passing the legend on the all time list.
In his next at bat, Thome sent home run 574 into the Minnesota Twins bullpen, breaking his short lived tie with Killebrew for 10th all time. After Thome crossed the plate, the sold-out crowd at Target Field, along with Thome, saw a video message from “The Killer” himself, congratulating Thome.
Just over a month later, on August 17th, Thome once again set another record, blasting the first walk off home run in the history of Target Field, and against his former team, the Chicago White Sox.
The home run was also Thome’s 12th career walk off homer, tying him with five other legends, including Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, for the most career walk off home runs. In the final season of his career, 2012, Thome’s 4th to last home run of his career was a walk off. Which sees him still stand alone as the MLB’s all-time walk off home run leader.
In the final month of the season, Thome continued breaking records, as he once again moved up in the all-time home run list. And he again did it by blasting two homers in the same game.
On September 4th, at home against the Rangers, Thome blasted career home run 583 in the bottom of the third off Colby Lewis, moving Thome into a tie for 9th on the list with Mark McGwire. Once again, one at-bat later, Thome smacked number 584, moving him ahead of Big Mac on the all-time list.
In what ended up being an incredible hot streak to start September, Thome tied Frank Robinson for 8th on the all-time list three nights later with home run number 586. And four nights after that, Thome blasted number 587 in Cleveland, another one of his former stomping grounds, moving him ahead of Robinson, to 8th all time.
Thome would hit a couple more home runs to finish out the season, which saw him finish with 25 on the year, and 589 for his career. Along with the home runs, Thome finished the season with a batting average of .283, his highest single season average since 2006.
Thome would go on to sign a one-year deal to comeback to the Twins in 2011. In August of 2011, Thome would hit his 600th career home run as a member of the Minnesota Twins.
Before the end of 2011, Thome returned to the Indians to help their hopes of reaching the playoffs. But after that didn’t happen, Thome signed to return to the Phillies for the 2012 season, but was traded at the deadline to the Orioles to help the team for a playoff run.
During his time in Baltimore, Thome hit three home runs. However, his first in an Orioles uniform was number 610, which moved Thome past former Oriole Sammy Sosa for 7th on the all-time list. Thome would hit two more, seeing him finish his career at 612.
In 2018, Thome was elected to the Hall of Fame with 89.8% of the vote in his first try.
Although Thome’s time on the Minnesota Twins was short, he provided some incredible moments while wearing a Twins uniform. Without seeing the stats in front of you, it is easy to forget how much Thome played into the success of the 2010 season.
If nothing else, Minnesota Twins fans got to see a true legend of the game smash record breaking home runs in 2010, which is something they won’t soon forget.