NEWS

'Thome town' designation put on hold

John Sharp

Thome Town? Not so fast.

The Peoria City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to table a motion to approve an honorary designation naming Peoria "Thome Town" for the entire month of October.

"Hopefully we can table this until next fall so Jim Thome can make it to the playoffs so he can fulfill his dream and (pursue a World Series ring)," 4th District City Councilman Bill Spears said.

Spears' comments prompted at-large City Councilman Gary Sandberg to jokingly reply, "Is that a notification he has been signed by the (New York) Yankees?"

So Spears added, "Then we'll have two central Illinoisans there," referring to East Peoria native Joe Girardi, manager of the Yankees.

Spears originally brought forward the idea of an honorary designation for Thome after the slugger's go-ahead home run during the Sept. 30 game between Thome's team, the Chicago White Sox, and the Minnesota Twins. The White Sox win allowed the team to move into the American League Division Series.

On Oct. 1, Mayor Jim Ardis' office released a memo saying the designation will be in place during the playoffs to "recognize our home-grown son and his many accomplishments."

But on Oct. 6, the White Sox were eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Rays. As such, Thome will have to wait another year until he gets a chance for a World Series ring.

Spears said the idea of the honorary naming came as a way to generate some positive publicity for the city of Peoria duirng the baseball playoffs. Ardis, for instance, was interviewd by a Chicago radio station.

But the White Sox early ouster halted the celebration of the honorary designation.

"We were disappointed he wasn't able to fullfill his dream," Spears said. "It was to honor Jim Thome and the wonderful things he's done."

Spears called Thome a "great person" who often visits central Illinois and his hometown during the offseason.

"He hasn't forgotten where he came from," Spears said.

The designation also credited Thome and his wife, Andrea, as being "true All-Stars" in their communities for their numerous charitable endeavors with a variety of organizations. It also honors Thome's professional baseball accomplishments.

Thome was not at the council meeting Tuesday.

John Sharp can be reached at (309) 686-3282 orjsharp@pjstar.com.