‘Baseball is beautiful’: Jim Thome inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Jim Thome gives his induction speech at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2018 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

COOPERSTOWN, New York — Former White Sox slugger Jim Thome took his spot among baseball’s greatest Sunday during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown.

Emotional during a Hall of Fame visit in February to tour the museum to prepare for this day, Thome held it together despite having to wipe away tears after his daughter sang the national anthem.

Thome spent 13 years with Cleveland, and just four each with the Phillies and White Sox. Yet he did make a mark on Chicago’s South Side, including a 42-homer, 109-RBI campaign for the defending World Series champs in 2006. During his Hall of Fame speech, he made it clear he’s never forgotten his midwest roots.

“I’m so honored to be part of something so special,” Thome said. “Baseball is beautiful and I am forever in its service.”

The lefty-swinging Thome hit 612 home runs, eighth all-time, and had an MLB record 13 walk-off homers, mostly for the Cleveland Indians. He also had 1,699 RBIs, scored 1,583 runs and drew 1,747 walks.

Among the many he thanked, Thome praised former Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel, who served as the Indians’ hitting coach in the late 1980s and 1990s. Manuel was in the audience.

“He told me I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to,” Thome said. “I knew this was someone I could connect with.”

Also included in this year’s Hall of Fame class are pitchers Jack Morris and Trevor Hoffman, infielders Alan Trammell and Chipper Jones, and slugger Vlad Guerrero.