Sam Thompson enjoyed a 15-year Hall of Fame career. Born five years before the end of the Civil War, Thompson was the product of a military family. His great grandfather served in the American Revolution and his father was a Union solider in the Civil War.
Thompson learned baseball from his father who picked up the game from other military men. At 6’2″, 207 pounds, Thompson was a large and powerful man during his era.
He debuted in the big leagues in 1885 at age 25 for the Detroit Wolverines. The following season he finished in the league’s top-10 in hits, batting average, slugging percentage, and total bases. Thompson was on his way to stardom.
In 1887, he had a breakout year, leading the Wolverines to Detroit’s first baseball championship. That season Thompson led the NL in hits (203), triples (23), RBI (166), batting average (.372), slugging percentage (.565) and total bases (308). His RBI total stood as the big league record for 34 years until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. During the campaign, Thompson hit two bases-loaded triples in one game. That record has since been tied but never broken.
In 1894 Thompson, Big Ed Delahanty, and Sliding Billy Hamilton made history. Each of the trio hit over .400, the only time in big league history three outfielders from the same team reached the mythical mark.
A prolific run producer, Thompson is the only 19th-century hitter to drive in 150+ runs in a season. In August, 1895, he tallied 61 runs batted in – still the MLB high-water mark for RBI in a calendar month. During his career he drove in .923 runs per game played, a record that may never be broken.
Thompson’s name is found across the single-season leaderboards. The former batting champ paced the Senior Circuit in hits three times, doubles and triples once each, homers twice, RBI and slugging percentage three times each.
The right fielder retired with a .331 lifetime batting average, 126 home runs, 1,308 RBI and 232 stolen bases. Cooperstown welcomed him in 1974.
Sam Thompson’s autograph is not in the collection at this time.
19th century STUD!
Thanks for this great page on these Phillies HOF idols!