By Matt Graves
On the day when the Chicago White Sox handed out Jim Thome bobbleheads as a promotion, the five-time All-Star was in a hitting slump. However, that cold streak ended on September 16, 2007.
When Thome came to bat in the bottom of the ninth with an 0-for-4 collar that day, it all changed as he delivered his 28th home run of the season against Dustin Moseley of the Angels.
Thome hit his 500th home in his 2,000th career game, becoming the 23rd player to achieve the plateau. Once trailing 7-1, the White Sox rebounded to win, 9-7, with Thome’s homer the winner.
It was the first time a player hit a walk-off homer for No. 500.
Thome also became the third player in 2007 to reach the milestone, following Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.
Thome reached the mark in 6,809 at-bats — fourth-fewest among members of the illustrious 500-home run club, only behind Mark McGwire (5,487), Babe Ruth (5,801), and Harmon Killebrew (6,671).
Of his 612 career long balls, 13 of them were walk-offs. That put him in a league of his own as eight of Thome’s game-ending home runs came in extra innings — tied with Frank Robinson and Albert Pujols for the most in baseball history.
Thome passed other Hall of Famers, including Robinson, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, and Stan Musial, the five players who hit a dozen each.
Thome had 1,583 runs scored, 612 home runs, and 1,699 RBI when he retired. Only seven other players in baseball history (Ruth, Mantle, Thomas, Foxx, Ted Williams, Manny Ramirez) each had at least hit 500 home runs with a .400 on-base percentage and a .550 slugging average.
In 2018, Thome was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In a family affair, his daughter Lila sang the National Anthem.
Matt Graves is an editor and writer for Last Word on Sports Baseball.