Skip to main content

Hank You For All You Do

This being Father's Day it strikes me as appropriate to try to track down the walk-off history of my father's favorite baseball player.

That would be former New York Giants third baseman Hank Thompson.

For those unfamiliar, Thompson hit 129 home runs in nine big league seasons, playing from 1947 to 1956. His first 27 games were with the St. Louis Browns in the same season that Jackie Robinson integrated baseball. The remainder of his career was with the Giants. He was an everyday player for five years and would fall under the "good, but not great player" category. Statistically speaking, his modern-day comparisons are the likes of Casey Blake and Joe Crede.

Thompson had some pretty serious legal issues in his lifetime, and I'll leave it to you to research those if you like. I'll tell you about one of a more minor nature that led to his becoming my father's favorite.

In January, 1953, Thompson had a near-accident while driving in the middle of the night, in upper Manhattan. Thompson got out of his car to check on the other driver, a cabbie, who panicked. The cabbie, seeing this large man coming at him grabbed, of all things, a baseball bat, got out of his car, and whacked Thompson on the head.

Thompson ended up in the hospital overnight after getting stitched up. Who was in the bed next to him in the hospital, there for a minor medical matter? My grandfather.

As my father tells it, a few months later, he and his father went to a Giants game. They went down to the Giants dugout and asked if Thompson was there. Thompson recognized my grandfather, and shook my fathers hand through the fence separating the stands from the field.
So while my father was always a big Willie Mays fan, Thompson was best in his book.

Thompson's top moment as a favorite to other fans came on June 15, 1954. The Giants were even in the National League standings at the time, but it was on this day that they would take control of matters.

The Reds were not an easy opponent though. They led 3-2 into the ninth inning after scoring twice in the eighth (a go-ahead single by future Met Roy McMillan put Cincinnati ahead.

Reds manager Birdie Tebbets skated through the home ninth very carefully, using three pitchers. The last was lefty Jackie Collum, brought in to face the lefthanded swinging Thompson with two on and two out.

Thompson, by newspaper accounts, got ahead in the count, 2-0, than clubbed a three-run home run over the short fence in right field, the second and final walk-off home run in his career.

The newspapers note that it was the Giants 10th straight night win. More importantly, it gave them sole posession of first place, something they would not relinquish for the remainder of the season, en route to a World Series title. Thompson played an integral role in that too, hitting .364 with seven walks and a .611 on-base percentage in the unlikely four-game sweep of the Indians.

True Metophiles know...45 years ago Sunday, my father attended a doubleheader between the Mets and Phillies (he still has the ticket stub). In the opener, Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game against the Mets.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry walk-offs...so if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but thei

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for