On August 12 of this year, another Phillies great will get inducted into their Wall of Fame. Pat Burrell, Charlie Manuel, and Mike Lieberthal were the most recent inductions in 2015, 2014, and 2013, respectively. To be eligible, players or managers must have at least four years of service time with the Phillies and be at least three years retired. Stats are no doubt taken into consideration, but so are several other things, like longevity and character, among other things.
This year, the initial candidates are as follows: Steve Bedrosian, Larry Christenson, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Jim Konstanty, Fred Luderus, Ron Reed, Scott Rolen, Jim Thome, Manny Trillo, Pinky Whitney, and Rick Wise. You can vote here. The top five vote-getters from fans will fill out the final ballot that the Wall of Fame Selection Committee will eventually vote on. Voting ends at 5 PM on March 7.
For me, this choice is easy–Jim Thome. His numbers with the club aren’t anything to be totally blown away by. He played 391 games for the Phils, and hit 101 home runs in his time here. (Note: he is one of four players in MLB history to hit at least 100 home runs for three different ball clubs) His WAR ranks 10th among first basemen in franchise history, and his ISO power ranks 2nd. His 47 home runs in 2003 ranks as the 3rd-highest for a Phillies first baseman (it was second-highest at the time) His 131 RBI that year rank sixth. Fittingly, he also hit the last home run at Veterans Stadium in 2003.
But what made Thome so special was his relationship with Phillies fans. I’ve never met someone who wasn’t a fan of him. He’s a fan favorite even today–I saw several Thome jerseys and shirts at Citizens Bank Park last year. He won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 2004, which is given to players who replicate the kind of kindness, integrity, and character that Gehrig displayed both on and off the field. Moreover, he had a special relationship with Phils Wall of Fame member Charlie Manuel, and that surely resonates with fans on a sentimental level. He retired as an Indian, but he’s still one of my favorite Phillies of all time.
If I could, I’d vote Thome as my first, second, and third choice. But if you forced me to choose someone else, my second choice on the ballot would be Scott Rolen. He is probably the 3rd-best 3rd baseman in Phillies history, and, even though his relationship with the Phillies and their fans ended on a sour note in 2002, his numbers should be recognized. He’s played the 4th-most games at third base in franchise history, hit the 4th-most home runs, and has accumulated the 3rd-most WAR. He was one of the better fielding 3rd basemen we’ve seen here in Philadelphia–he made just 86 errors in 7324 innings at third. But, I’m going to be honest. It is hard to get over that sour ending in 2002.
Do you agree? Who should be the 37th inductee into the Phillies Wall of Fame? Let us know in the comments below.