100 Greatest Phillies: 9 – Sam Thompson – Phillies Nation
100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 9 – Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson
Outfielder
1889-1898

Career w/Phillies: .333 AVG / 95 HR / 957 RBI / 189 SB

Fifth in franchise runs batted in and fourth in franchise batting, Sam Thompson was the first great Phillies hitter. Purchased by the then-Quakers for $5,000 (from the Detroit Wolverines), Thompson wasted no time. He drilled a career-high 20 home runs and drove in 111 in 1889. The next year Thompson hit .313, and in subsequent years his average would increase greatly. By 1893 Thompson was hitting .370, and in 1894 he had his best season yet, hitting .407 with 13 HR and 141 RBI. In 99 games.

Yes, 99 games.

That was also the season all four Phillies outfielders (Thompson, Billy Hamilton, Ed Delahanty and Tuck Turner) hit over .400, maybe comprising the greatest outfield in baseball history.

1895 proved to be the fruition of Thompson’s offensive skills. He hit an impressive .392, smashing 18 and driving in a franchise record 165. (That was in 119 games.) That record held up almost 40 years until Chuck Klein topped it in 1930. Interestingly, his career high was 166, which he had in 1887 for Detroit. That stood as a baseball record until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. Thompson also hit for the cycle that season against Louisville, one of seven Phillies to ever achieve that feat.

Back problems forced retirement’s hand, and Thompson went back to Detroit to finish his career with the proper Motor City team, the Tigers.

Comment: We can’t argue this, can we? Thompson was an incredible hitter who kept a high batting average, displayed enormous power for his time and could even run a bit. And he was part of that legendary outfield (yes, there is one to go on that list). Heck, Thompson may have been a great leader, too. But we do know Thompson is a legend, a Hall of Famer, and a great, great Phillie. This is your No. 9.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Tim Malcolm

    March 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Take that amazing ‘stache off Sam Thompson and you got my older brother. Hilarious.

  2. Tyler

    March 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    good pick tim… cool to see some of the older guys we don’t no much about finally being appreciated

  3. Jeff

    March 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Tim, where can I see the actually list from top to bottom? I just want to look over and see it as a whole,

    Great Job I look forward to seeing who you put up everyday keep up the good work!

  4. Alphonse Dattolo

    March 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I HAVE BEEN A PHILLIES FAN FOR 49 YEARS AND I HAVE BEEN A PHILLIES HISTORIAN ALL MY LIFE. SAM THOMPSON WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST PHILLIES EVER. IT IS TOO BAD THAT HE DID NOT PLAY IN RECREATION PARK-MY PHILLIES FIRST BALLPARK (1883-1886)

    MY PHILLIES WILL ONCE AGAIN BE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS OF BASEBALL IN 2009.

  5. Gavin

    March 18, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Wow, I have to say, I thought I knew Phillies history, but this list has been beyond my knowledge. Great job doing this research Tim. Thompaon sounds like the “Manny” of his day. 🙂

  6. BurrGundy

    March 18, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I have really learned a lot about the old timers and have thoroughly enjoyed the TOP 100 PHILLIES list. Great entertainment.

  7. Brian Michael

    March 18, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  8. whizkidfanatic

    March 18, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    This seems a very solid selection. I have long felt that elite athletes should only be judged on their performance against their peers. It has been a pet peeve of mine when people say that athletes of one era couldn’t compete against those of another era. Hey, they didn’t and don’t have to! Times change, rules change, training and nutrition change, medical knowledge is vastly different from one decade to the next. It is good to see those of the “dead ball” era get recognized.

  9. Jason B.

    March 18, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    The thing that is the most amazing to me is that the Phillies had 4 outfielders hitting over 400 and they still couldn’t win the Pennant that year. To me, that is amazing.

  10. James Kay

    March 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Don’t forget his major league record .923 RBI’s/Game. His Phillies offensive output and tenure (143 OPS+ 10 years) is only slightly less than his teammate Ed Delahanty’s (153 OPS+ 13 years). But image also counts, so I placed Thompson one place ahead of Ed on my list because of his classic 1890’s moustache.

    The copious Abreu comment log from yesterday was very entertaining. Intense controversy seems to bring out the creativity in fans.

  11. Justin

    March 19, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Delahanty, and Chuck Klein, Schmidt, Carlton, Roberts, Ashburn have to be top 5 I’m drawing a blank who else could be left.

  12. Chuck P

    March 19, 2009 at 8:02 am

    This is what this list is about… I’m not even sure if I had him on my list but he’s clearly top 10 material. A great piece of Phillies history. Thanks, Tim.

  13. Geoff

    March 19, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Aww man..that is a GREAT moustache…

    Now those are Impressive stats. Thats a ridiculous season for 99 games. Unheard of nowadays.

  14. Georgie

    March 19, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Lose the ‘stache and he’s a pretty hot lookin’ dude. How old is your brother, Tim? jk. Mustaches like that collect all kinds of things-eewww.

  15. Ed R.

    March 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    @Justin

    Grover Cleveland Alexander?

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