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Thome Hits 500th Home Run

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Sep 18, 2007 1:37PM

2007_09_sports_jim_thome_500.jpgFor the most part, it has not been a good season for Chicagoist's beloved South Side baseball team. Other than Mark Buehrle's no-hitter back in April, it's mostly been a season of disappointment.

At least this past Sunday, we got to experience another bright moment for this team, as Jim Thome became just the 23rd major leaguer to hit 500 home runs. His ninth-inning shot also turned a 7-7 tie into a 9-7 White Sox victory — it's believed to be the first time a 500th homer was also a walk-off game winner.

No sooner does one hit the 500 mark and the talk quickly turns to Hall of Fame worthiness. Not too long ago, hitting that plateau was an automatic ticket to Cooperstown. But today? Not so much, on account of the steroid allegations that have plagued baseball in recent years. Mark McGwire didn't get in on the first ballot, and there are many who question whether the likes of Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero and Barry Bonds will get in or how long they'll wait for entry.

ESPN's Rob Neyer suggests that 600 is the new 500, and that's the number Thome will need to reach in order to ensure enshrinement. Given the surge in homers over the past two decades, maybe he's right. But we've also never heard Thome's name linked with any performance-enhancing substance, so should he be punished because others' cheating diluted the aura of the home run? At 37, in relatively good health, and now playing DH, perhaps Thome has enough in him to slug another 100 and put any talk to rest.

Photo by AP Photo/Jerry Lai.