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Where are they now? Jason Thompson

His passion for baseball renewed

Monday, August 04, 2003

By Rich Emert, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Jason Thompson admits to being a baseball fan. That's a bit unusual because many former major-leaguers who are not involved in coaching or managing are casual followers of the game.

Thompson, who played first base for the Pirates from 1981-85, lives in Detroit and attends a number of Tigers games. He played for the Tigers for five seasons before going to the Angels and has been a regular at Tigers fantasy camps.

Jason Thompson
93 home runs in five seasons with Pirates

An associated vice president/investments with Prudential Securities, Thompson has been diverting some of his energies toward instructing young players and groups on the finer points of baseball.

"When I first got out of baseball after the '86 season, I was running a golf store," Thompson said. "Then I got into investments and financial planning through a friend and I've been doing that for 10 years.

"But I found I missed the game and so I started doing the clinics. We've started to expand that and have clinics for players and coaches, and we do clinics with teams and leagues. I've even put together an instructional hitting video."

Thompson also helped own his sons, Matthew, 20, and Daniel, 18, along the way.

He launched his own Web site -- www.jasonthompsonbaseball.com -- and said working with young players has renewed his passion for the game.

"I didn't plan to get into this, it just sort of happened," said Thompson, 49, who lives with his wife, Bernadette, and two sons. "A lot of people would ask me, 'Who should I send my kids to for instruction?' I started thinking maybe I should do something like that."

He is one of a handful of players who have hit 30 or more home runs for teams in the American and National leagues. A three-time All-Star, Thompson had perhaps his best season with the Pirates in 1982. He hit .284 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs that year. With Detroit in '77, he hit .270 with 31 home runs, including two over the right-field roof at Tiger Stadium, and 105 RBIs

In 1982, Thompson became just the third Pirates player to have 100 RBIs and 100 walks in the same season.

Injuries limited his offensive production after that year. He played a half season for the Expos in 1986 before retiring. He finished with a .261 career batting average and 208 home runs and 782 RBIs.

While Detroit is home, Thompson has fond memories of Pittsburgh.

"The thing I remember most about playing in Pittsburgh were the players," he said. "I got an opportunity to be on the same team with Willie Stargell and Dave Parker. When he was in his prime, there wasn't a better player than Dave Parker.

"The best day I had in Pittsburgh was against the Cubs [in 1984] when I hit two home runs in both games of a doubleheader at Chicago."

Thompson said he didn't think about staying in baseball after he retired. But the more he was away from the game, the more his passion for it was rekindled.

It didn't hurt that his oldest son, who plays third and first base, will be on the baseball squad at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.

"I really enjoy working with kids and helping them improve their skills," Thompson said. "I wouldn't mind coaching at the major-league level, but I wouldn't want to go back to the minors and work my way up."

While he attends a lot of Tigers games, Thompson still follows the Pirates. He said he wishes they weren't both struggling and that he wouldn't mind returning to Pittsburgh to see PNC Park or perhaps take part in a Pirates fantasy camp.

"I like being a part of the fantasy camp [in Detroit]. You get a chance to see old teammates and the response the Tigers have had to it has been great. They had about 200 take part and have two weeks," Thompson said.

"It's just a lot of fun to share with people who have the same passion for the game that you do."


If you have a suggestion for "Where are they now?" E-mail emert196@comcast.net.

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