If Mars Blackman were watching last night’s game, he would have gotten past his shoe obsession and figured maybe it had something to do with the socks. Jim Thome has always worn his socks all the way up to his knees in kind of a retro goofy farm-boy look that’s become even piquant as he’s gotten older (or maybe it’s just me who’s gotten older). Last night, the entire team copied the look in honor of Thome’s return (and his birthday, which is today, August 27). It was great to see.
Thome went 0-4 and hit the first pitch of his first at-bat for a piddly little grounder that even Zeke couldn’t have run out. It didn’t matter. Just having him around made the capacity crowd happy. It made us happy at home too. We had season tickets back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Being part of those sold out crowds made you feel like you were part of a movement, kind of an In-Your-Face Rust Belt Revival We-Can-Beat-You-And-We’re-Better-Than-You-Think-We-Are gesture that struck a blow for the pride of small markets everywhere. Seeing Thome in an Indians uniform, pointing that bat out to right-center field, socks flying high, brought back those feelings of hopefulness.
Despite the up-and-down fortunes of our sports teams, a major recession, and an unemployment rate nearing nine percent (and I confess I’m among that percentage), we have a lot of hope in these parts. Every urban garden on a plot of vacant land, every innovative reuse of a former factory or warehouse, every boomerang resident who come back here to live, and every baseball sock raised up to the knee seems to be a sign of better things to come. Jim Thome isn’t a savior, but it sure is nice to see him around here again.