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Q&A with Jim Thome: Former White Sox slugger stays connected to game in retirement

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:10 p.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 2:04 p.m. CST
Caption
(Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com)
Jim Thome talks to campers at the Silver Slugger Camp run by the Bulls/Sox Academy at Lisle Community Park on July 23. After 22 years as a professional, the former Major League Baseball star is currently a special assistant for the Chicago White Sox.

During a 22-year Major League career that came to a close in 2012, Jim Thome hit over 600 home runs while playing for six different teams, including the Chicago White Sox. After hanging up the spikes, the Peoria native was hired by the White Sox as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn in July of 2013.

On July 23, Thome made an appearance at the White Sox Silver Slugger Camp in Lisle and signed autographs before talking with the aspiring Major Leaguers in attendance.

Thome also took time to speak with Suburban Life sports reporter Scott Schmid about teaching the with young players, working for the White Sox, the Hall of Fame induction of White Sox legend Frank Thomas and his own chances of making it into the Hall of Fame.

Schmid: What is it like for you to be able to come to these camps and spend time with the kids?

Thome: It's nice, especially this time of the year. My son is in youth baseball now so that gets me involved. The biggest challenge is getting kids back on a baseball field, so getting a group of kids like this playing and having fun is great. I remember back in Peoria growing up, we'd always play pick-up games. It's important to get kids back involved with playing ball in any capacity.

Schmid: How much did it mean to you to come back to the White Sox as a special assistant, and how are you enjoying it so far?

Thome: I love it, working for Jerry [Reinsdorf, White Sox Chairman] and Rick [Hahn, General Manager] and Kenny [Williams, Executive Vice President]. It's just been enjoyable. I get the best of both worlds, I get to be at home but I also get to be at the ballpark. Plus I've gone on a few assignments to the minor leagues and gotten a chance to see some of our young players, which has been great.

Schmid: How special was it to play for the White Sox for four seasons?

Thome: It was a special time in my career. Getting traded from Philadelphia to Chicago, my mom had passed away and that brought my family closer together. Getting a chance to come home and play, that was a dream come true and those three, four years were a fantastic time in my life.

Schmid: Is retirement treating you well?

Thome: I'm enjoying it. When Jerry called and brought me back, I found that thing in my life where I could still be around the game but also be with my family. It eased the transition to where I'm at. It's definitely been great to learn the other side, to learn about the other parts of the game I never knew existed.

Schmid: What aspects of the game do you miss?

Thome: Competing, I miss digging in and competing. That never goes away. You can be retired for 10 years and still have that desire to want to get back in the box. But now it's about passing the torch down, and with the position that I'm in, maybe I can do that.

Schmid: What are your thoughts on Frank Thomas being inducted into the Hall of Fame and have you thought about getting in yourself?

Thome: Frank no question is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He was a force when he played and it is great for the city of Chicago and for the White Sox. He is very well deserving, from the player's side, just look at his numbers.

And I think I will let the process play its course, I try not to get too far ahead of myself. But it would be great to be a part of it and if it ever happened one day, I would be as excited as Frank is.

Jim Thome will make an appearance at another Silver Slugger Camp at Ackerman Park in Glen Ellyn in August. Click here for more details.

By the numbers

22 Seasons in Major League Baseball

.276 Career batting average

612 Home runs

2,328 Hits

1,699 Career RBIs

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