- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2011

CLEVELAND (AP) - Jim Thome tied The Bambino on Monday.

Now, he wants to get a little closer to Babe Ruth’s home run total, too.

The 41-year-old slugger became the first ballplayer to address the City Club of Cleveland since Ruth did so on July 17, 1925, and said he still has the passion to play. Whether or not that is with the Indians or another team will be determined when impending free agents become eligible to start negotiations five days after the end of the World Series.

“I’ll keep playing,” said Thome, eighth on the all-time list with 604 career homers. “I just need teams to call me. I can’t go play in the backyard by myself. I don’t know the demand for a 41-year-old DH, but my passion is I want to continue to play.”

Thome said his desire to capture an elusive World Series title is more important to him than setting individual records. He came close with the Indians in 1995 and 1997 before moving on to four other teams in his quest _ which brought him back to Cleveland.

He was honored to speak at the club, which has featured guest speakers from all walks of life for 99 years.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know this existed,” Thome said. “But it is a very special and humbling experience.”

Thome spoke from a stage that previously featured names like Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Muhammad Ali.

“Any time you get names like Babe Ruth,” he said, “it is very, very cool.”

Thome said he’s enjoyed watching the World Series and marveled at the Game 3 performance of St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols. He drove in six runs with five hits including three home runs.

“He’s a great player, so special,” Thome said. “He’s one of the best hitters in our era.”

That timeframe includes Thome, who hit his first homer for Cleveland in 1991, set a team single-season record of 52 in 2002, and extended his franchise mark after being reacquired from Minnesota on Aug. 25.

“That move caught me off guard and it was really a dream,” Thome said.

Cleveland fell out of contention, but Thome said the young Indians seem primed for success. He would like to be a part of it, but will weigh all offers and decide upon his future this winter.

“In a year or two, this team can do some very special things,” Thome said. “They have put the groundwork in, done things the right way.”

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