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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whatever Happened to Robby Thompson?

An All-star love of the game

By Andrew Abramson, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 07, 2006

TEQUESTA — Forget the money, All-Star selections, National League pennant, records and fame.

Just turn back the clock a quarter-century to a baseball diamond at Forest Hill High.

That's where a shaggy-haired kid tried to emulate Pete Rose, winked at his high school sweetheart, Brenda, and played for school pride.

"When you're younger, going through high school, everyone wants high school to finish up so you can move on and get out in the real world," Robby Thompson, 44, said. "But I think as we all sit here we'd like to all go back and do it again - youth, being out and free in the sports that we're involved in. I'd love to go back and play high school baseball again."

Unlike many high school stars, Thompson's days on the diamond were just beginning at Forest Hill.

The second baseman and basketball star for the Falcons graduated in 1980, grabbed a spot on the then-Palm Beach Junior College team, worked his way to the Florida Gators roster and within six years of leaving Forest Hill, was facing Nolan Ryan, baseball's all-time strikeout king, in the Astrodome on opening day 1986.

"I got in (Ryan's) book quickly. I struck out," Thompson said. "My next at-bat I doubled off the left-center wall.

"I was just thinking, 'This is great. I'm in the big leagues and I'm facing Nolan Ryan. How much better can it get?' Those are the thoughts that go through your head. There was no fear, just excitement."

During the next 10 seasons, he broke nearly every Giants record for second basemen in the San Francisco era.

He led the National League with 11 triples in 1989, the same year the Giants lost to Oakland in the earthquake-delayed World Series.

He was a 1988 and 1993 All-Star, but was injured both times and couldn't play. He won a Gold Glove in 1993.

Thompson and his wife, Brenda, met as students at then-Conniston Junior High. She played volleyball at Forest Hill and PBCC and was with Thompson during his minor-league stops in Fresno, Calif., and Shreveport, La.

"We were the only married couple with a kid in the minors," Brenda Thompson said.

Their son, Drew, 20, a former batboy for the Giants, is now a minor-league player in the Twins organization.

Twin sons Tyler and Logan, 17, play for Jupiter High and their daughter, Kristeena, 24, lives in the area.

Thompson signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1997, the same year the Indians lost to the Marlins in the World Series, but retired before the season began.

Today, Thompson is a special assistant to the general manager of the Cleveland Indians, evaluating minor-leaguers in the organization.

He has spent time as a major-league bench coach and might pursue coaching and eventually managing after his sons head to college.

Copyright © 2006, The Palm Beach Post

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