The Charlotte Knights today announced it’s first two inductees into the Charlotte Baseball Roundtable of Honor, and the first two inductees into the class of 2016 have been chosen, as Jim Thome and Charlie Manuel will be inducted into the Charlotte Baseball Roundtable of Honor on July 13th at the Triple-A All-Star Game Luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center, and the two will be in attendance later that night at the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A All-Star Game at BB&T Ballpark.
Charlie Manuel spent the 1968 season as an outfielder for the Charlotte Hornets baseball team, where in 138 games, he drove in 79 runs and slugged 13 home runs to go along with a .283 average for the Hornets, who were the Double-A Southern League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins at the time. His .283 average was good enough for third in the Southern League that season, and the following year in 1969, Manuel made his MLB debut with the Twins. Manuel spent parts of his six seasons in the majors with Minnesota(1969, 1970, 1971-72) and the Los Angeles Dodgers(1974-75) before taking his talents to Japan, where he would hit 189 home runs over his six seasons with the Yakult Swallows(1976-78; 1981), and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes(1979-80).
In 1993, Manuel would return to Charlotte to take over the reigns as the manager of the Charlotte Knights, who joined the International League as an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians that season, and he guided the team to the Governors Cup championship with an 86-55 record, and a successful playoff run that season, and he would go on to very successful Major League managerial career with the Cleveland Indians, and the Philadelphia Phillies, where he won a World Series title in 2008, the club’s first since 1980.
Jim Thome arrived in Charlotte in 1993, and he played a vital role in the Knights season that year. At the ripe, young age of 22, Thome would hit 22 home runs, finish with a .332 average, and drove in 102 RBIs in his lone season with Charlotte that year, earning him the International League’s Most Valuable Player award, as well as getting called up to Cleveland that season. He and Manuel helped the Knights capture the International League title in their first season as a Triple-A franchise during the 1993 season.
During his Major League career, he would hit 612 career home runs, with four coming when Manuel was at the helm. Thome was a five-time All-Star and he would lead the National League with 47 home runs during the 2003 season with the Phillies, which were one of six teams that he played during his career, along with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, and Baltimore Orioles. Since the 2013 season, Thome has worked with the Chicago White Sox as a special assistant to General Manager Rick Hahn, working with players inside their farm system, including the Knights.
Thome threw out the ceremonial first pitch to help officially christen BB&T Ballpark on April 11, 2014, and on August 5 of that year, Manuel was honored with 20 other former Charlotte baseball Hornets during a Hornets reunion that night at BB&T Ballpark.
Back in February, the Knights announced plans to revive the Charlotte Baseball Hall of Fame, which originally inducted members from 1982-1985 during the Charlotte O’s tenure in Charlotte, and it was rebranded as the Charlotte Baseball Roundtable of Honor. The Triple-A All-Star Luncheon will take place on July 13th at the Charlotte Convention Center starting at 11:30 a.m., with both inductees, and all the players and coaches from the International and Pacific Coast Leagues, and it will be held prior to that night’s Sonic Automotive Triple-A All-Star Game over at BB&T Ballpark(7:00 p.m., MLB Network).
Tickets for the Triple-A All-Star Luncheon are currently on sale, as well as tickets for the 2016 Harris Teeter and Tide+ Triple-A Home Run Derby presented by Clariant and the 2016 Sonic Automotive Triple-A All-Star Game presented by Gildan are also on sale, and tickets are going fast for the events, and they can be purchased in person at the BB&T Ballpark ticket office, online at CharlotteKnights.com, or by calling 704-274-8282.