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Watch Slugger Jim Thome Cry With His Family After Learning He’ll Be in the Hall of Fame

Only 54 players in baseball history have been inducted in their first year of eligibility.

Professional athletes, no matter the sport, only compete for one championship a year. And while winning a title, or even getting really close to one, is a huge deal, it will never be the most important marker of sports greatness — that’s what the hall of fame is for. Which is why it makes sense that former Major League Baseball star Jim Thome couldn’t hold back tears yesterday after learning he’d be joining legends like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thome, an Illinois native who hails from a long line of blue-collar athletes, was drafted to the MLB in 1991 and played 22 professional seasons (long even by baseball standards) primarily as an infielder for the Cleveland Indians. Having retired in 2012, this was Thorne’s first year of eligibility for induction into the Hall of Fame, and he was selected with 89.8 percent of the vote ⏤ well beyond the 75 percent required. A five-time MLB all-star who hit 612 home runs during his career (the 8th most of all time), Thome is one of only 54 players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility. Incidentally, another first-timer, Chipper Jones, also made the cut with 92.7 percent of the vote. 

Thome will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame, alongside Jones and Vladimir Guerrero, during a ceremony on July 29th.