Four former Indians will make up the class of 2016 Hall of Fame inductees, including two of the organization’s greatest hitters who fueled the offensive surge in the mid-90s, a player/manager that broke down boundaries and a member of the 1920 World Series club.
The four—Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Frank Robinson and Charlie Jamieson—will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame in a ceremony on July 30 at Progressive Field. The first 15,000 fans to attend that game against Oakland will receive a Thome bobblehead.
”These are four of the all-time great players in our franchise’s storied history, and through their individual personalities and achievements, each has created his own special memories for generations of Indians fans,” said Indians Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Bob DiBiasio in a statement. “We’re excited to officially recognize their contributions to our franchise and the game of baseball by inducting them into the Indians Hall of Fame.”
Thome already has a case as an Indians legend, as his statue stands next to Bob Feller’s and Larry Doby’s in right-center field. He is the franchise leader in home runs (337) and walks (1008), is second in RBI (937) and is third in on-base percentage (.414), slugging percentage (.566) and OPS (.980). He was a three-time All-Star in Cleveland and finished in the top-10 in American League MVP voting four times.
“It’s special, humbling,” said Thome Friday night, ahead of Saturday’s Tribe Fest. “You look at the guys that are on that list and you look over the years, the organization, all the great players who have come through here and have their numbers retired and are in the Hall of Fame. To be a part of that is humbling, but cool. It’s kind of something I don’t think you ever forget.”
Belle is most noted for his 50-50 season in 1995, in which he became and still is the only player in history to record 50 home runs and 50 doubles in the same season. Belle is second to Thome in home runs (242) and is second in franchise history in slugging percentage (.580). He was a four-time All-Star and three times finished in the top-three in AL MVP voting.
With Thome’s and Bell’s inductions, it now stands that most of the storied 1995 Indians lineup has been enshrined among the franchise’s all-time greats. Sandy Alomar (2009), Carlos Baerga (2013), Kenny Lofton (2010) and Omar Vizquel (2014) were all previously inducted members who played a role in a lineup that is largely considered one of the greatest in baseball history.
As Thome has previously said, he thinks the thing that made that lineup so special was the friendly competition it fueled each day. Thome, Belle, Manny Ramirez and others never wanted to be left behind as several guys put together strong seasons.
“It’s special. I think the thing about good teams and having good players is you filter off each other and they make you better,” Thome said. “If you have the talent and you’re able to work hard and help your talent progress, we all fed off of each other. It’s pretty neat to see a lot of us going in.”
Robinson had a Hall of Fame playing career, the last three of which took place in Cleveland, but is most noted in Indians history as becoming the first African-American manager in baseball in 1975.
Jamieson in his 14-year Indians career hit .316 and was a member of the 1920 team that took home a World Series title. He ranks fifth in Indians history with 1,753 hits, behind Nap Lajoie, Tris Speaker, Earl Averill and Joe Sewell.
The Indians Hall of Fame now stands at 44 members.