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Power surge
The '50s was the decade of power and the numbers put up by the untainted athletes were impressive.
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INSIDE:

CLUBHOUSE
CRONICLES

Jimmy Palermo, during a historic 7-day span in May, 1939, saw the meteoric rise of Williams and tragic decline of Gehrig.

THE GAME'S
GOLDEN ERA

An exclusive WIWAG ongoing feature.


MEMORIES
The field seemed vast to a 7-year old who had looked forward to this day for two months.

BREAKING THE COLOR LINE
The year marks the 60th anniversary of the first major league tryout for black players.

SPECIAL COLOR
LINE TIMELINE

Bud Fowler is the first know black players on an integrated team.

BOOMING BATS
of the '50s

Qualify as Grade A10.


AMERICA'S ORIGINAL
SPORTS BAR
First sports bar featured 12-inch Farnsworth TV.

BASEBALL
HISTORIANS

Two unsuspecting vintage baseball fans rediscover a "National Treasure."
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HANK'S bat is a Louisville Slugger (model S2) with signature barrel stamp.


































GIANT THIRD BASEMAN Hank Thompson used this bat in an August 1954 series with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The eventual '54 National League pennant winners and World Series champions took three out of four from the Redbirds. Thompson contributed a two-run circuit-clout — his 22nd of the season — in the second game, a 7-4 New York win. He had three hits in the third game in which the Giants won, 4-1.  He finished the '54 season with 26 home runs and 86 RBIs, many in the clutch down the stretch to help fend off the Dodgers.

HANK THOMPSON was a member of the Major League's first all-Black outfield during the 1951 World Series when he played right field in place of injured Don Mueller. With Thompson in the Giants outfield that day were center fielder Willie Mays and left fielder Monte Irvin.

 

HANK THOMPSON

Thompson was only player to break the color barrier for teams in both leagues

Thompson, Willard Brown were first black teammates to play in a Major league game

Hank Thompson began his Major League career on July 17, 1947, with the St. Louis Browns at age 22. He played for nine seasons on two different teams — and ended his big league playing career in 1956. Thompson was the only player to break the color barrier for teams in both leagues — the St. Louis Browns (1947) in the American League and the New York Giants (1949) in the National League.

In 1942 at age 17, Thompson played right field for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League, batting around .300. The following year, he was drafted into the Army where he was a machine gunner with the 1695th Combat Engineers at the Battle of the Bulge. Sergeant Thompson was discharged in 1946 and returned to the Monarchs.


With the start of the 1947 season, history was made when Jackie Robinson broke the color line with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A few months later, Thompson's contract, along with teammate Willard Brown, was sold to the St. Louis Browns. On July 17, Thompson became the third Negro League player to play in the Major Leagues.

Shortly after debuting for the Browns in July 1947, he was joined by Brown to become the first black teammates to appear in a game. Thompson was with St. Louis a little over a month and hit .256 in 78 at bats, playing in 27 games mainly at second base. On August 23, he was released and he rejoined the Monarchs through the 1948 season.

WITH THE ST. LOUIS BROWNS, Thompson, on July 17, 1947, became the third Black player in the Major Leagues.


On July 4, 1949 the New York Giants called him and Monte Irvin up from the Giants' Jersey City farm club. Thompson received $2,500 over the league minimum of $5,000. By signing with the Giants, Thompson earned a unique place in baseball history as the first Black to play in the National and American leagues.

When Thompson batted against the Dodgers' Don Newcombe in 1949 it was the first time in Major League history a black batter faced a black pitcher. Also, in the 1951 World Series, he played right field in place of injured Don Mueller, with Willie Mays and Irvin, creating the first all-Black outfield in Major League history.

Other significant Thompson firsts included his appearance as a Brownie against Cleveland's Larry Doby in an August 9, 1947 doubleheader, making it the first time Black players of opposing teams appeared on the field at the same time.

The left-handed hitter enjoyed his best season in 1953 when he hit .302 with 24 home runs, and finished his career with a .267 lifetime average, with 801 hits.

HANK THOMPSON: Did you know...

....Thompson's contract was sold to Minneapolis of the American Association in 1957, where he finished his career.

Thompson played in two World Series —1951 and 1954. In the 1954 World Series against the Indians he hit .364 and drew a four-game series record of seven walks.

...Thompson was born December 8, 1925 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He died September 30, 1969 in Fresno, California at age 43.


HANK THOMPSON, above left, with Giant teammate Willie Mays at the Polo Grounds in 1951.

HANK THOMPSON played for nine seasons on two different teams — and ended his big league playing career in 1956. Thompson was the only player to break the color barrier for teams in both leagues — the St. Louis Browns (1947) in the American League and the New York Giants (1949) in the National League.


THE DODOGERS' Gil Hodges tries to take out Thompson to break up a double play during a cross-town rivalry game at Ebbets Field in the 50s.