Nope not the former NBA player nor the soap opera actor. This is the Jason Thompson who played for the Pirates.
Actually he got his big league career started with the Tigers when he got drafted out of Cal State Northridge in 1974. Thompson was a slick fielding first baseman with power who shot up through the Tigers farm system.
In 1976, he was on the All Rookie Team. By 1977 and 1978, he was chosen to the All Star Game.
Thompson hit for power, slugging 31 homers in 1977, drove in a ton of runs (105 one year) and would post an OPS in the mid .800’s, not that anyone knew that back then.
By age 25, he was putting together his best season increasing his average, on base and slugging while still clubbing 21 homers in a season split between the Tigers and California Angels.
He arrived in 1981 as the Angels designated hitter. But the team was moving Rod Carew to that position and recently had acquired Fred Lynn. They were running out of spots for Thompson to play. So before the season began, he was dealt to Pittsburgh.
Right away, the Pirates flipped him to the Yankees. Where he was going to play on the Yankees is anyone’s guess because they had more hitters than spots in the lineup.
The point was moot. The money exchanged in the deal caused commissioner to nix it. So he stayed in Pittsburgh where he had to fill the shoes of beloved Hall of Famer Willie Stargell.
He had a subpar 1981 but 1982 was possibly his best season overall. He clubbed 31 homers, drove in 101, posted a .902 OPS and was part of a potent lineup that featured veterans Dave Parker, Lee Lacey, Mike Easler and Bill Madlock along with young stars like Johnny Ray and Tony Pena. Thompson made the All Star team again and finished 17th in the MVP vote. It would be his peak.
The Pirates would fade over the next few year as would Thompson. After three more seasons and a cameo in Montreal for 1986, his career was over.
This is of course a 1983 Fleer Card, a series so bananas that I wrote about them back in 2008. The pics all were strange, none were action shots, and often were clearly done before a ballgame.
Here Thompson wears his Stargell stars, a remnant of the 1979 title. Is it an action shot or even posed? Of course not. He is being interviewed on CNN, which in 1982 and 1983 was a very obscure cable station.
Makes you wonder what pics they rejected.
He now runs a baseball camp in Michigan. Click HERE for info.