Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Brooklyn Dodger OF Don Thompson dead at 85

He was best remembered for throwing Billy Martin out at home plate to end a World Series game. RIP.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Don Thompson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers with Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges, died Monday following a long illness. He was 85.

Thompson roamed the outfield of Ebbets Field, a magical place in the 1950s. He threw out Billy Martin of the Yankees at the plate to end Game 3 of the 1953 World Series.

Thompson was born in Swepsonville, N.C., on Dec. 28, 1923. He signed his first professional contract in 1943 with the Boston Braves and made his major-league debut with them in 1949. He played with the Dodgers in 1951, ’53 and ’54. Mainly a utility outfielder, Thompson had a career batting average of .217.

His best season was in 1953 when he hit .242 while playing in 96 regular-season games for the Dodgers, who lost the World Series in six games to the Yankees.

Thompson appeared in two games as a defensive replacement, including the third game, when he had one of his best moments as a ballplayer.

Martin was on second base with two outs and the Dodgers ahead by one. Mickey Mantle singled to left. Thompson took the ball on the second hop and threw home, where catcher Roy Campanella positioned himself for Martin, who had rounded third.

“Campy had the ball in his mitt and was getting ready for a collision, and Martin was bent over and he was going to run into him,” Thompson, a member of the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame, recalled recently. “But at the last minute Campy sidestepped right quick, and came up and tagged him under the chin and, honest to God, he turned him a flip. He knocked the hell out of Martin. That was the last out, and we won the game.”

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