If Sam Thompson were in his prime today, his statistics would ensure a multi-million dolloar paycheck. Yet for some reason, Thompson's fame never extended beyond his own day, so that even though Thompson's plaque hangs in the Hall of Fame, visitors must find it to be one of the most obscure of all. Yet consider what Sam Thompson did. He three times led the National League in hits, and twice led in home runs, including 1895, arguably his finest season. With Philadelphia that year, Thompson also led in RBIs -- he had 165 -- and batted .392. (That was a comedown from the .404 average he had posted in 1894.)
Thompson's real forte was the long ball. In an era that placed a premium on the bunt and hit and run, Thompson, at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, liked to rip at the ball. He posted a .654 slugging average in 1895, best in the league by 42 points, adding 45 doubles and 21 triples to his 18 home runs. Impressively, Thompson only struck out 11 times all season.
In right field on that 1895 Phillies team, Thompson was a member of one of the great outfields of all time. Next to him in center was Bily Hamilton, who hit .389 and stole 95 bases. In left field was Ed Delahanty, as much a slugger as Thompson, who batted .399 with 106 RBIs. The trio led an offense that generated a league-high 1,068 runs, an average of slightly more than 8 per game.
With that kind of production, why did the Phillies only finish third? Because unfortunately, the other team also got to hit. Phillie pitchers compiled a 5.47 ERA that season, makingthem the 10th rated staff in the 12-team league.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL