Samuel Luther Thompson
Location: Ellis Park, 600 E. Main Street, Danville. (Hendricks County, Indiana)
Installed: 2006 Indiana Historical Bureau and Thompson and McPheeters Families
ID# : 32.2006.1
He was born in Danville March 5, 1860 and educated in Danville Graded School. He played for Danville Browns baseball team in 1883 and for Evansville and Indianapolis minor league ball clubs 1884 and 1885. He played for National League Detroit Wolverines (1885-1888) and Philadelphia Phillies (1889-1898) and with American League Detroit Tigers 1906.
Thompson and his wife retired to Detroit, where he died November 7, 1922; buried there in Elmwood Cemetery. Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame 1974 and Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame 1979. Thompson remains first in runs batted in per game, edging out Lou Gehrig. Local ball diamond and Danville High School award honor this native son.
He was born in Danville March 5, 1860(1) and educated in Danville Graded School.(2) He played for Danville Browns baseball team in 1883(3) and for Evansville and Indianapolis minor league ball clubs 1884 and 1885.(4) He played for National League Detroit Wolverines (1885-1888) and Philadelphia Phillies (1889-1898) and with American League Detroit Tigers 1906.(5)
Thompson and his wife retired to Detroit, (6) where he died November 7, 1922; buried there in Elmwood Cemetery.(7) Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame 1974(8) and Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame 1979.(9) Thompson remains first in runs batted in per game, edging out Lou Gehrig.(10) Local ball diamond and Danville High School award honor this native son.(11)
(1)Photograph of tombstone, Find a Grave Web site, (accessed 7/8/04) at
According to family knowledge and an 1898 plat map, the home of the Thompson family is at the dead end on the east side of Kentucky Street in Danville.
(2)According to the Hendricks County Union, April 3, 1873, p. 3, he grew up in Danville and was educated in the Danville Graded School.
(3)Hendricks County Republican, July 12, 26, August 16, 30, 1883.
(4)Hendricks County Republican, September 4, 1884 states: "The Indianapolis Times says that 'Sam Thompson, left fielder for the Evansvillies, has promised to sign with the Indianapolis club when the Evansville club disbands' an event that is believed to be near at hand. Thompson is wanted to strengthen the battery of the Indianapolis club.' "
The Hendricks County Republican, June 18, 1885 states that Thompson left for Detroit; he came to Danville "prior to his leaving for Detroit, Michigan, where the Indianapolis club has been transferred."
Thompson's Obituary (Hendricks County Republican, November 9, 1922) states that "He had been playing with Indianapolis, a minor league team that Detroit purchased in line with the policy of the management inaugurated last year to build up a pennant winner. He was the only player secured in the Indianapolis purchase who qualified for a permanent place on the Detroit team."
(5)In 1889, Sam Thompson appears on the Philadelphia Quakers roster. In 1890, he appears on the Philadephia Phillies roster. Baseball-reference.com accessed December 9, 2004 at (http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/1889.shtml) and (http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/1890.shtml). The Philadelphia team was known as the Quakers 1883-1889; the Blue Jays 1943-1944; and the Phillies 1890-1942, 1945-present. Baseball-reference.com accessed December 9, 2004 at (http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/PHI/). Other baseball statistics Web sites do not clearly differentiate between the Philadelphia Quakers and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Thompson returned for eight games with the American League Detroit Tigers in 1906 at age 46. The Detroit team had many injuries and needed an outfielder. "Sam Thompson, " National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, accessed 7/1/04 at (www.baseballhalloffame.org); Major League Baseball Historical Stats, Samuel Thompson, (http://mlb.mlb.com/), accessed March 12, 2004).
(6)Lowell Reidenbaugh, Cooperstown: Where the Legends Live Forever (New York, 2001) 313, indicates the retirement and that he was U.S. Marshal, sold real estate, and was a bailiff. The Hendricks County Republican, February 9, 1922 says that he "is connected with the United States court in Detroit"
Thompson's Obituary, Hendricks County Republican, November 9, 1922, quoting from John Fitzgibbon on the staff of Detroit News, states: "During the world war he was attached to the United States marshal's office in Detroit, where he had charge of the work pertaining to registration and surveillance of aliens." The obituary also notes that he was a member of the Election Board. Official Register of the United States 1919 (Washington, 1920), 1229 indicates that in 1919 he was a crier for the United States Circuit and District Courts in Detroit. The Detroit News, November 7, 1922 indicates that he was a crier in the court of Judge Arthur J. Tuttle for last 3 years of his life. Family members, in a "Dedication of a Memorial to the Achievements of Samuel Luther Thompson, " July 15, 2000, indicate that he remained in Detroit and was U.S. Marshal and Bailiff in the courts.
(7)Photograph of tombstone, Find a Grave Web site, (accessed 7/8/04) at (http://www.findagrave.com/); Cemetery Search, Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan; Obituary, Hendricks County Republican, November 9, 1922. "Sam Thompson, " National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, accessed 7/1/04, at (www.baseballhalloffame.org).
(8)"Sam Thompson, " National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, accessed 7/1/04 at (www.baseballhalloffame.org).
His Hall of Fame Plaque reads:
"Lifetime batting average .336
"Batted over .400 twice
"200 or more hits in a season three times
"Led National League in home runs and runs batted in two times"
Sam Thompson's Hall of Fame Plaque, National Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, accessed 3/12/04 at (http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers%5Fand%5Fhonorees/plaques/thompson_sam.htm). Statistics are verified by the Elias Sports Bureau, the world's foremost sports statisticians and historians.
(9)Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame Web site, accessed 7/8/04 at (http://www.indbaseballhalloffame.org/inductees.html).
(10)According to the Society for American Baseball Research, Thompson is first with 0.92553; Gehrig at second is 0.92190; third is Hank Greenberg with 0.91535; Joe DiMaggio is fourth with 0.88537; Babe Ruth is fifth with 0.88414 (numbers have been rounded to five decimal places); John Zajc, Executive Director, to Historical Bureau (e-mail), December 15, 2004 (from Total Baseball and mlb.com cited below). Sam Thompson's name continues to appear on many baseball lifetime all-time leaders lists for holding various records. John Thorn, et al. (eds), Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, (New York, 1997), 2271-72, 2274-75, 2282-83, 2285, 2304, 2305. Major League Baseball Web site, accessed 7/16/04 at (http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/stats_historical/mlb_historical_leaders.jsp?baseballScope=NL&statType=1&sortByStat=H&timeFrame=1&timeSubFrame=1887). baseball-reference.com Web site, accessed July 1, 2004 at (http://www.baseball-reference.com/t/thompsa01.shtml).
(11)Thompson's visits to Danville during and after his career were noted in the local newspaper. See, for example, Hendricks County Republican, February 24, 1887; May 5, 1887 (Detroit played Indianapolis Hoosiers May 5, 6, 7, 1887); August 25, 1887 (visited last week; Detroit played Indianapolis Hoosiers August 18, 19, 20, 1887); October 13, 1887 (Detroit played Indianapolis October 5, 6, 7, 8, 1887); October 27, 1887 (Will be there next week. Final game of the 1887 World Series played October 26, 1887); December 1, 22, 1887.
Danville High School annually presents the "Samuel Luther Thompson Award" each year to the ball player with the best attitude. Hendricks County Flyer, July 14, 2003; Denny Leathers, Danville High School, August 2, 2004.
The Danville Town Council named the baseball diamond in Ellis Park for Sam Thompson and installed a plaque. Hendricks County Flyer, May 26, 1998. The plaque is located in Ellis Park on a boulder behind the lighted softball diamond in center of park; Danville Parks and Recreation Department provided the text of the plaque, fax July 23, 2004.
The Hendricks County Commissioners Office has a plaque on the wall on the middle floor. Photograph, July 19, 2004, Paula Bongen.