Richard Thompson All-Time IBL Great








Richard Thompson An All-Time IBL Great
by Jeffrey Reed, Editor,
Photos: Jeffrey Reed

Without a doubt, London’s Richard Thompson was the star player for the London Majors during the late-1980s through the 1990s. A five-tool player and all-around athlete, Thompson was one of the very best to don the Majors’ pinstripes since the team’s inception in 1925.

richardIn fact, Intercounty Baseball League fans who witnessed Thompson’s speed, power and finesse for nine seasons at Labatt Park were fortunate enough to watch one of the all-time Intercounty greats. It is no surprise that the Majors retired his No. 5 jersey in 2010.

“I’m very honoured,” said Thompson. And that was a mouthful for the centre fielder affectionately known as “Gabby.” A proud, hard-working ballplayer, Thompson didn’t say much on or off the field. Rather, he let his bat and speed do the talking for him.

Oddly enough, the Majors’ No. 5 is now retired twice – it belonged to Stan “Gabby” Anderson, another Majors star outfielder whose game spoke volumes. Anderson was a six-time all-star between 1958 and ’65.

Thompson, 49, retired early in 1998 at age 33. That year, he captured his second Intercounty batting title with a .412 average, and won his only stolen base title with 17 thefts. He retired with 118 stolen bases, seventh on the all-time list.
So, why did Thompson leave the Majors after a fourth-straight first-team all-star selection, and just nine hits shy of 400? According to Thompson, the time felt right.

“Playing for the Majors was a big commitment,” says Thompson during his uniform retirement in 2010. A City of London maintenance worker and family man, Thompson said, “I have no regrets leaving the team when I did, but I do miss the guys.”

One of Thompson’s long-time teammates, Majors third baseman Dan Mendham, said despite the fact his good friend was an extraordinary athlete, Thompson’s work ethic and smarts impressed him the most.

“Richie and I used to (practice hitting) every day – 100 swings a day, sometimes on our lunch hour from work. I guess we’d rather hit than eat back then,” laughed Mendham. “I’ve never seen (Richie) make a base running mistake.”

Born in Montreal, Thompson moved with his family to London when he was in Grade 7. His father, Doug, was a football star with the Clemson University Tigers, then the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts in the late-1950s.

Richard’s great-grandfather, “Bull” Thompson, was a member of the legendary 1877 London Tecumsehs Baseball Club.

fourA minor baseball star, Richard also led all London Conference scorers with the South Lions hockey team in 1982-83. His Lions football jersey No. 20 is retired.

From 1985-89, Thompson was a 5’9″, 180-pound gridiron star with the Mount Allison Mounties. He was AUAA rookie of the year in 1985, a CIAU All-Canadian in 1988 (the year he captured Intercounty Rookie of the Year honours) as conference-leading receiver, and an All-Canadian in 1989 while leading his conference in rushing.

In 1995, when the Intercounty returned wooden bats to play, Richard was the only .400 hitter, finishing at .415 for his first league batting title. He finished his career with a .348 average.

Indeed, “Gabby” Thompson didn’t have to do much talking during his IBL career. Instead, his play and his persona spoke volumes about him. And now, with his No. 5 retired, Majors fans will not forget what he meant to one of the IBL’s most storied franchises.


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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and Sports journalist since 1980.

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