Danny Thompson (baseball)
Born: February 1, 1947|
Died: December 10, 1976 (aged 29)|
|June 25, 1970, for the Minnesota Twins|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 2, 1976, for the Texas Rangers|
|Runs batted in||194|
Danny Leon Thompson (February 1, 1947 – December 10, 1976) was a college and professional baseball player, a major league shortstop from 1970 to 1976. Diagnosed with leukemia in early 1973 at age 26, he played four more seasons in the majors and died just ten weeks after his final game.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Thompson grew up in tiny Capron, Oklahoma, and played college baseball at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he was an All-American. He was the first pick of the Minnesota Twins in the secondary phase of the 1968 amateur draft.
Thompson broke into the majors with the Twins in 1970 and had his first full season in 1972; he played for them until June 1976, when he and pitcher Bert Blyleven were traded to the Texas Rangers for four others in a six-player deal.
Following a routine pre-season physical the day before his 26th birthday, Thompson was called in for additional tests and diagnosed with granulocytic leukemia in early February 1973, but he continued his major league career for the next four seasons. He was awarded baseball's annual Hutch Award in Seattle following the 1974 season, and batted .270 in 1975, leading all American League shortstops.
Thompson appeared in 98 games in 1976, and went 1 for 3 in his final start for the Rangers on September 29, appropriately at shortstop in Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium. In his final game on October 2, less than ten weeks before his death, he was used as a pinch hitter.
Admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on November 16, 1976, Thompson underwent spleen surgery on December 3, and died a week later from complications in Rochester's St. Mary's Hospital. Thompson was just 29, leaving behind a wife, Jo, and two young daughters, Tracy and Dana. His funeral was attended by hundreds at the high school gymnasium in Burlington, Oklahoma, and he was buried nearby at the cemetery in his hometown of Capron.
An annual golf tournament honoring Thompson is held in August in Sun Valley, Idaho. The Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, benefiting leukemia and cancer research, was launched in 1977 by the Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (1936–2011), a former teammate with the Twins; and Ralph Harding (1929–2006), a former Idaho congressman. The first edition included former President Gerald Ford, Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, and Hall of Fame slugger Mickey Mantle. It has donated over $15.6 million since its inception, and is now the "Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament" (KTM). Killebrew disclosed his esophageal cancer in late 2010 and died five months later at age 74.
- "Leukemia threatens Thompson's baseball career". Wilmington Morning Star. North Carolina. UPI. June 19, 1973. p. 16.
- "Large funeral for Thompson". Kiowa News. Kansas. UPI. December 16, 1976. p. 1.
- "Tough to accept at first, but Danny battles hurlers, leukemia". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. UPI. June 24, 1973. p. 4C.
- "Blyleven, Thompson happy about trade to Rangers". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. June 3, 1976. p. 5E.
- Kallestad, Brent (June 2, 1976). "Blyleven traded to Texas in six-player transaction". Lewiston Daily Sun. Maine. Associated Press. p. 20.
- "Despite his leukemia, shortstop looks ahead". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. February 22, 1973. p. 4C.
- "Baseballer dies at 29". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. December 11, 1976. p. 18.
- "Thompson gets 'Hutch' award". Boca Raton News. Florida. UPI. November 27, 1974. p. 1B.
- "Thompson dies of leukemia". Wilmington Morning Star. North Carolina. UPI. Dec 11, 1976. p. 14.
- "Danny Thompson". Baseball Reference. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Richman, Milton (December 14, 1976). "Danny Thompson: A manager's player". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. UPI. p. 5B.
- "Danny Thompson and Larry Hisle found peace this Christmas". Boca Raton News. Florida. December 29, 1976. p. 11A.
- "Dan Thompson: 'never too busy'". The Morning Record. Meriden, Connecticut. Associated Press. December 14, 1976. p. 8.
- "Kurt Bevacqua". Rangers Cards. (Topps). 1978. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- "Killebrew not upset over star deletion". Schenectady Gazette. New York. Associated Press. July 25, 1972. p. 16.
- "Killebrew plans 2nd charity golf". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Associated Press. July 13, 1978. p. B13.
- "Harmon Killebrew sponsors tourney". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. August 2, 1979. p. 26.
- Benson, Lee (August 22, 1980). "Still hitting 'em straight - sometimes". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. Associated Press. p. 4B.
- "Ford plays best golf round ever". Victoria Advocate. Texas. Associated Press. August 21, 1977. p. 3C.
- Miller, Hack (August 20, 1977). "Ford takes a payoff". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. p. 6A.
- Killebrew, Harmon; Harding, Ralph (September 1, 1977). "Charity golfers drawing thanks". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. (letter). p. 4.
- "About". Killebrew-Thompson Memorial. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- "Harmon Killebrew in final days of cancer battle". CBS News. May 13, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- "Harmon Killebrew ends cancer fight". ESPN. May 13, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- "Twins legend, Hall of Famer Killebrew dies". Major League Baseball. May 17, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Thursby, Keith (May 18, 2011). "Harmon Killebrew dies at 74; Hall of Famer was one of baseball's premier home-run hitters". Los Angeles Times. (obituary). Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Project Baseball 1976: Danny Thompson
- Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament - official site
- Idaho Mountain Express - Danny Thompson Golf Tournament - 17-Aug-2007
- Sun Valley Guide - Danny Thompson Golf Tournament - Summer 2003
- Danny Thompson at Find a Grave