Lafayette Fresco Thompson (June 6, 1902 – November 20, 1968) was an American Major League Baseball second baseman and executive. Thompson was born in Centreville, Alabama. In 1916, his family moved to New York City, where Thompson attended George Washington High School and Columbia University. At Columbia, he was a football teammate of Lou Gehrig's, but Thompson left the school to turn professional before he could join Gehrig on the Lions' baseball team.
|Born: June 6, 1902|
|Died: November 20, 1968 (aged 66)|
|September 5, 1925, for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 22, 1934, for the New York Giants|
|Runs batted in||249|
A right-handed batter and thrower, Thompson stood 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) tall and weighed 150 lb (68 kg). His pro career began at the Class D level of the minors in 1923. After three years of seasoning, he made his debut in September 1925 with the eventual world champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Following brief appearances with the Pirates (14 games in 1925) and New York Giants (two games in 1926), Thompson was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1927 when the Giants obtained Rogers Hornsby. He had his most productive years with the Phils, playing in Baker Bowl, twice hitting over .300. Overall, in 669 games played for four teams over all or parts of nine National League seasons (1925–32; 1934), Thompson batted .298 in 2,560 at bats. His 762 hits included 149 doubles, 34 triples and 13 home runs, and he collected 249 RBI. He finished his career with a .962 fielding percentage.
After his playing days, Thompson managed in the minor leagues and in 1946, he became an assistant farm system director for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Thompson moved up the executive ladder, and survived the front-office purge that followed Branch Rickey's departure in October 1950. During the shakeup, Thompson became a vice president and the team's second-ranking baseball executive, responsible for all minor league operations, while another VP, Buzzie Bavasi, assumed control of the big-league Dodgers' operations. Thompson continued in that role after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Over Thompson's 22 years as a senior player development executive, the Dodgers produced six National League Rookie of the Year Award winners, and won ten NL pennants and four World Series titles.
When Bavasi left to become president of the expansion San Diego Padres on June 4, 1968, Thompson became the Dodgers' executive vice president and general manager. During the transition, he presided over the Dodgers' hugely successful 1968 amateur draft. The regular and secondary phases of the 1968 June lottery netted the Dodgers Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Bill Buckner, Bobby Valentine, Joe Ferguson, Doyle Alexander and others.
However, a few weeks after his promotion, Thompson was diagnosed with cancer, and he died in November in Fullerton, California, at the age of 66. He was succeeded as general manager by the club's scouting director, Al Campanis. The following season, Ted Sizemore, developed in Thompson's farm system, was named the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year.
- United Press International, Fresco Thompson obituary, November 21, 1968
- MLB Rookie of the Year Award Winners, ESPN.com
- Bain, Derek (2015). Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Player Development Outcomes for Modern-Era Franchises. Tuatara Software.
- Collier, Phil, "Death of a Dodger", Baseball Digest, February 1969, pp. 27-28