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Former Major League Infielder Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Sept. 25, 1963 - Hank Thompson (right with Monte Irvin and Willie Mays in 1951), former infielder for the New York Giants, was sentenced today in Houston, Tex., to 10 years for robbery, burglary, and theft. Wearing a tattered T-shirt and jeans, Thompson was told by District Judge John Barron after the sentencing: “This is one of the toughest sentences I have ever had to pass on anyone. You are still a young man. You have a great past, and you still have a lot of friends. Keep your prison record clean, and I’ll give you all the help I can. You will still be a champion.” Thompson, 39 years old, replied, “Thank you, sir.” He had pleaded guilty to robbing a liquor store and stealing two pistols from a residence. After playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League during the 1943 season, Thompson was drafted into the Army. He was a machine gunner with the 1695th Combat Engineers at the Battle of the Bulge. A few years later, he was nicknamed “Ametralladora” (Spanish for “machine gun”) by Cuban fans while playing in the Cuban Winter League. On July 8, 1949, Thompson and Monte Irvin became the first Negro players for the baseball Giants. Thompson thus became the only player to participate in breaking the segregation barrier on two different teams. He had integrated the St. Louis Browns’ lineup on July 17, 1947. In 1951, after playing a strong role in the Giants' drive to the pennant, Thompson and Irvin teamed with Willie Mays in the World Series to form the first all-Negro outfield in the majors. The Giants were defeated by the Yankees in the Series, 4-2. After leaving baseball, Thompson met with a series of difficulties. He became a cab driver in New York, but following a divorce, turned to crime. With time off for good behavior, Thompson will become eligible for parole in 1967.

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