When Jason Giambi joined the Indians as a designated hitter two seasons ago, one of the first things he did was ask about having the No. 25 for his jersey.
“When I called over here to (head clubhouse and equipment manager) Tony Amato, I said, ‘hey, is (Jim) Thome’s number retired?’ He said, ‘No, he hasn’t retired yet.’ So, I said ‘I’d like to wear it.’”
Fast forward a year and a half later to Saturday when Thome surprised everyone at the unveiling of his statue by saying he was signing a one-day honorary contract so that he could retire “as an Indian.”
Giambi sat in the audience and listened and as soon as he heard Thome talking retirement, he knew what he had to do.
“Anytime you erect a statue for someone, it’s something pretty special – not only on the field, but off the field – what he meant to this organization. I don’t think you could say enough about Jim Thome.
“I thought by the end of the year (maybe Thome’d retire), or when he’s in Cooperstown (the Indians) would officially retire his jersey. So when he announced the one-day contract to come back and retire as a Cleveland Indian, I thought, ‘well, the universe has spoken to me, this is the way it was supposed to go down.’ And I just thought nobody should wear this jersey (number) again.”
So, Giambi told as much to Thome, who slipped on his old jersey and threw out the first pitch to former teammate Sandy Alomar before Saturday night’s game. Then, Giambi had a member of the clubhouse print this sentiment on the back of his No. 25 jersey: ‘Jim, It Was An Honor To Be The Last Person To Wear Your Uniform Number In Cleveland Indians History!’ Then Giambi signed underneath the writing and will give it Thome as a memento he can frame.