Jim Thome thanks Phillies fans, Charlie Manuel in HOF speech

Hall of Famer Jim Thome held it together when he took the podium Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, despite having to wipe away tears after his daughter Lila sang the national anthem earlier in the day.

He heaped praise on his wife Andrea.

"Obviously, induction into the Hall of Fame is one of the greatest honors of my life," Thome said. "The best thing, though, that's ever happened to me is the day you agreed to marry me. You are without a doubt the best teammate I could ever have and, with the world as my witness, I love you more today than ever."

The lefty-swinging Thome hit 612 home runs, eighth all-time, and had an MLB record 13 walk-off homers, playing with the Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, and other clubs.

In his speech, Thome thanked former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who coached Thome in the minors and continued to work with him throughout his major league career.

"Charlie took a scrappy young kid who was anxious to hit a million home runs and he actually encouraged those crazy dreams. He told me I can hit as many home runs as I wanted to. You know I wouldn't be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything, but most of all, thank you for your loyalty," Thome said.

Thome also took a moment to thank the city of Philadelphia, its fans, and even the construction workers at Citizens Bank Park.

"Philadelphia is where I had to grow up fast. I needed every single tool in my toolbox. The city welcomed me in open arms from the moment the 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 Bo and the front office of Philly, first class all the way," Thome said.

Thome marveled that the genesis of this moment was hitting rocks on a gravel driveway with an aluminum bat as a kid.

"It's been my great privilege to have played the game for as long as I did," he said. "And I can say this with certainty, the possibilities are just as important as the outcome. 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.

"I'm so honored to be part of something so special. Baseball is beautiful, and I am forever in its service."


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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