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100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 9 – Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson

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.

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