Thome and Target Field: The End of an Era

Just 10 days after hitting his 600th homerun, Jim Thome is no longer a Twin. Considering the circumstances, it’s hardly shocking. Thome’s departure however, is just another sad reminder of how far the Twins have fallen in just one short year.

In many respects, Thome has been the symbol of the team’s brief tenure at Target Field. When he arrived in Minnesota after signing a modest free agent contract last January, nobody new what to expect from the soon-to-be 40-year-old slugger. The same could have been said of the new outdoor ballpark wedged into the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis.

The stadium and Thome, of course, were a hit. Both exceeded even the most optimistic of expectations in 2010. Thome hit 25 homeruns and provided the signature moments of the park’s first season - his 10th inning, walk off homerun that buried the White Sox on August 17 and his mammoth blast that ricocheted high off the rightfield flagpole on Labor Day. Target Field meanwhile, was universally lauded as one of the top places in America to watch a baseball game.

In 2011 of course, things went horribly, horribly wrong for the Twins, but Thome’s pursuit of 600 homeruns and the still fresh allure of Target Field kept the turnstiles clicking. With Thome now gone - and the team 20 games under .500 heading into September - the fans may be finally losing interest as well.

Thome’s time in Minnesota lasted less than two seasons, but, in the twilight of his career and with little time to spare, he quickly etched his name into Twins lore. When the slugger is enshrined in Cooperstown five years after he retires (anyone who says he won’t or shouldn’t be is too ridiculous to be acknowledged), Twins fans can claim a piece of his remarkable career.

Thanks for the memories Jim, I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did.

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