“Gentleman” Jim Thome came to the Phillies a year removed from a promising, yet disappointing, 80-81 finish. A clear upgrade over incumbent first baseman Travis Lee, Thome would lead MLB in homers with 47 in 2003 and helped the Phillies improve to an 86-76 mark. The following season, Thome would earn an All-Star birth, hitting 42 homers and leading the Phillies to an identical 86-76 mark. Thome’s arrival showed Philadelphia fans that the front office had shown a commitment to spending money to build a competitor.
Injuries limited Thome’s first stay in Philadelphia and the slugging lefty was dealt away midway through 2005 to make room for Ryan Howard. Thome wasn’t dealt away before creating lasting memories in Citizens Bank Park, however, hitting his 400th home run there on June 14, 2004.