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May 29, 2014

Classic notes: Thome's gift, Matsui's press corp turn heads

Jim Thome and his son, Landon, surprised the National Baseball Hall of Fame several days before the Hall of Fame Classic with the gift of the ball Thome hit for his 600th home run.

Thome and Landon, 6, were honored before the Classic for their gift. While playing for Minnesota, Thome hit two homers on Aug. 15, 2011 in Detroit for numbers 599 and 600. At age 38, he was the oldest player to make the 600 club although he did it in fewer at bats than anyone besides Babe Ruth.

Thome’s father, Chuck, had previously donated to the HOF the ball that Thome hit for his 500th home run. This will be the first time that the HOF has both a 500 and 600 home run ball from someone in the 600 club.

Thome finished his career with 612 homers, seventh on the all-time list. In 22 seasons, he played for Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Baltimore. He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018.

A Japanese warm-up

The appearance of Hideki Matsui, representing the New York Yankees, brought out of huge crowd ... of reporters.

Of the 48 credentialed media members for the game, 19 of them were representing media organizations from Japan. Most of those media members were reporters who cover Ichiro Suzuki on the Yankees and made the trip up to Cooperstown for the day.

“This is just a glimpse of what it will be like when Ichiro gets in,” said Craig Muder, director of communications for the HOF. “That year will be crazy.”

Suzuki, the Japanese slugger, who is a 10-time All Star and who won the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards in 2001, will turn 41 in October.

“I just hope he doesn’t retire this year,” Muder said. “If he and Jeter go in the same year, I don’t know if Cooperstown is big enough.”

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