Jim Thome, Ron Gardenhire

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire finally relented and gave Jim Thome the ball from his 607th career homer. (Photo courtesy of Twins director of baseball communications Dustin Morse / July 18, 2012)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Thome’s 607th home run ball has finally landed in the right hands.

The 41-year-old Orioles DH, knowing that every homer he hits in his incredible big league career could be his last, has been collecting his home run balls since he hit No. 500 back in 2007.

Last month, Thome hit his 607th career homer at Target Field – where he played for the Twins in 2010 and most of 2011 – and it landed in the shrubbery just beyond the top of the outfield wall in right-center.

It took the Twins a day to find the ball, and by then Thome’s Phillies had already left town.

Tuesday night, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire jokingly said he was holding the ball hostage.

On Wednesday, Gardenhire and Thome met in the tunnel under the stadium and the ball changed hands.

“We hooked up out in the hall and he gave it to me,” Thome said. “It was good.”

“To hit 607 here and then to have what they went through to get it was pretty special,” Thome also said. “I’ll never forget it. We had left, and I think we went to Toronto, and I got to my room that night and I saw they had a guy on a harness trying to get it.”

Even though Thome didn't play two full seasons in Minnesota, he's beloved in the Twin Cities. He hit his 600th homer here and hit some mammoth blasts in the Twins' new ballpark when it first opened, including one by the flagpole in right field and two over the batter's eye in straight-away center.

H/T to Twins director of baseball communications Dustin Morse (@Twins_morsecode on Twitter) for photo.