The Obit For Junior Thompson

Valley scout Thompson passes away

Nick Piecoro

The Arizona Republic

Aug. 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Former major league pitcher Gene Thompson, who made his mark in Arizona as a longtime scout based in the Valley, died Thursday morning at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn. He was 89.

Thompson went 47-35 during a six-year major league career with Cincinnati and the New York Giants that was interrupted for three years by World War II, during which he served in the Navy. He went 16-9 in 1940 for the Reds, who beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Shortly after his playing career, Thompson began scouting for the San Francisco Giants. He worked for the Giants for 40 years, scouted briefly for Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs, and worked for San Diego from 1997 until he retired last October. advertisement

"He said scouting is a lot like fishing - you don't have a chance to catch anything if you don't have your line in the water," said R.J. Harrison, director of scouting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "That's why he was always at the ballpark."

Thompson will be remembered by many scouts for his willingness to teach.

"It was a given that when you started scouting, you just spent a few days around Gene," Angels scouting director Eddie Bane said. "If you followed him around and you shut up, he'd show you all you needed to know."

Thompson lived in Arizona since 1971 with his wife of 67 years, Dorothy, who died last December.

"He was one of the first guys to get behind the pension for the players," Joe Garagiola Sr. said. "He always looked after everybody else. He was an old-school scout. No radar gun or nothing. He'd have a 25-cent notebook and write down in it: 'Can't play. No arm.' "

Thompson is survived by daughter Pat DeMar and her husband, Lou; granddaughter Kristy Kollman and husband David; grandson Vince DeMar and wife Stephanie; and two great-grandchildren, Kimberly and Geena.

Services are pending.