MINNEAPOLIS — The ball Jim Thome hit for career home run No. 607 went missing Thursday night.
After the Phillies slugger hit a home run to right-center against the Twins at Target Field, the ball disappeared into a flower box filled with coleus plants in front of the right field seats. Fans sitting right above the plants dug around to look for the historic ball, but to no avail. The ball buried itself in one of the flower boxes.
It wasn’t until after the game and after the fans cleared out that Gary Glawe, the Twins’ senior director of ballpark systems, was able to find the ball. And it wasn’t an easy task, as Glawe had to put on a harness to make sure he didn’t tumble over the right field wall while searching for it.
“The situation obviously got a lot of attention,” Glawe said Friday. “We didn’t want anybody leaning over the rail anymore, so we just kind of stopped it, got up there with the proper equipment on. … We wanted to put safety equipment on, get out there and try to put some closure to the situation.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had Thome’s home run ball in a Ziploc bag during Friday’s pregame media session. He was asked if he was holding No. 607 for ransom.
“I tell you what, you’ve got a piece of history right here,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to have to come in and take that away. He might have to bring that blue ox to get that ball back.”
Gardenhire was referring to a TV commercial that starred Thome during his time in Minnesota in which he was dressed as iconic lumberjack Paul Bunyan and accompanied by a blue ox.
Thome certainly played the part of lumberjack on the field during his career, too, belting 37 home runs in two seasons with the Twins, including No. 600.
The Twins do indeed plan to send the ball back to Thome, but are waiting to hear back from him. Thome tried to keep as many baseballs as he could once he reached the 500- home run mark.
After Thursday’s homer, Thome is now just two home runs from tying former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa for seventh all-time at 609. He’s hit three so far this year, including two in the series against Minnesota.