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08/26/11 11:13 PM ET

Indians raise socks in tribute to Thome

CLEVELAND -- Many of the players on the Indians' roster were in grade school when Jim Thome last wowed Cleveland crowds with his majestic home runs.

That, however, doesn't mean they're not up on their history. In a movement sparked by reliever Joe Smith, the Indians welcomed Thome back to Cleveland with the slugger's patented high-socks look.

"I thought it looked great," Smith said. "Everybody, coaches included, did it. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn't, but I thought it was pretty cool. He definitely deserves that for what he's done for the game."

The team used the fashion statement as a gift to greet its newest member. In 1997, the Indians started a team-wide high socks look on Thome's birthday -- Aug. 27 -- and kept the look through the end of the season, as the superstitious club reached the World Series.

"That was the buzz going around -- that we were going to have our socks up as a welcome present for the big guy," said third baseman Jack Hannahan, who typically sports the look.

The idea was originally intended for Thome's birthday on Saturday. But the players couldn't resist sporting the look in Thome's first game back as a member of the Tribe, Smith said.

It took some pressuring and convincing to get everyone to don the look, however. Outfielder Shelley Duncan claimed one player considered passing on the idea out of fear for how he would look.

Smith said insecurities ran rampant before everyone finally agreed to wear the high socks.

"I heard some stuff going around," Smith said. "Guys were saying, 'I don't look good in high socks; I have cankles,' so I think it was more than one person.'"

Originally planned as a one-day event, the team is considering maintaining the look until its winning fortunes run out.

"It was very nice," Thome said. "It was similar to '97 ... and everyone knows we went to the World Series that year. So, we'll see what happens."

Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.