Editor's Note: We present to our readers our newest feature Tiger Rag Magazine in which we will give you an inside perspective on LSU sports through the eyes of former Tiger greats.
Starting with baseball, we will feature an ex-LSU athlete, who will give expert analysis and opinion on how the Tigers are performing. Plus, our featured experts will toss in their own personal slant on things as well as insight from past experiences and those old stories and anecdotes that Tiger fans love.
For the next five issues through the NCAA baseball championships, we will chat with a former Tiger that knows all about championships. Doug Thompson will serve as Tiger rag's baseball insider. In August, we will then introduce a football perspective on things followed by basketball.
We hope you enjoy this newest feature of Tiger Rag Magazine.
As one of the most recognizable players in LSU baseball history, former Tiger great Doug Thompson adorns the wall of many Tiger fans' homes and offices.
Featured on the commemorative poster produced by the Baton Rouge Advocate following LSU's 1997 College World Series title, the historic picture of Thompson raising his arms in triumph is not only one of the most memorable images in Tiger baseball history, but a moment etched on the minds of college baseball fans everywhere.
Thompson's likeness epitomized the word "DYNASTY."
The final pitcher on the mound that
day, Thompson recorded the last out as LSU defeated
In a brilliant two-year career with the Tigers, Thompson compiled a 24-8 overall record, including a 12-3 mark as a junior in the 1997 national championship season. His total of 158 strikeouts that year ranks second all-time in a single season behind Ben McDonald's 202 punchouts in 1989. Thompson's 158-strikeout tally ranks seventh all-time in SEC history.
A native of Biloxi, Miss., Thompson was a second team All-American in 1998, a year in which he amassed a 12-5 record and registered a 12-10 win over Southern Cal and a save versus Mississippi State before the Tigers finished third in that College World Series.
Playing just two seasons in the purple and gold, Thompson recorded 282 strikeouts, the most in LSU baseball history by a two-year player. Scott Schultz is the career leader with 409. However, had Thompson attended LSU four seasons averaging 141 strikeouts per year, which he did in 1997 and 1998, the SEC Academic Honor Roll member was on track to retire 564 batters on strikes, which would have shattered LSU's career record.
Thompson spent over six seasons in
the Colorado Rockies organization before an injury dashed his hopes of reaching
the major leagues. Today, he is the Director of Marketing for Prestige Title,
Inc. and still calls
- Matt Deville
Q: Spending a few minutes on your career, where did your career take you since leaving LSU after the 1998 season?
Thompson: I got drafted after my senior year after we lost to USC. I played for six and a half season in the minor leagues for the Colorado Rockies. I pitched in triple A. I had an elbow injury that ended my season last year in spring training. I was a little too old to have that Tommy John surgery and rehab and try and come back so that was pretty much it.
Q: Do you miss baseball?
Thompson: I miss the guys, having the guys around the locker room. Who wouldn't want to have a job where everyday you went to work with 15 of your best friends that were there to work with you. After that you get to go out and have a good time together.
Q: How close were you to making it to the show?
Thompson: I would have probably had to put up two more good numbers in triple A to be even considered. But that is such a quirky business also. I have seen pitchers get called up to the Major Leagues that didn't necessarily do anything special. It is kind of being ion the right spot at the right time. You never really know just how far you are away. I felt a long way away.
Q: Did you face or play with any former Tigers?
Thompson: Oh yeah. I ran across Dan Guillory, Chris Demouy, Patrick Coogan. I never got to play against Blair (Barbier). I played with Brad Hawpe. I know I played against (Eddy) Furniss and (Brandon) Larson. Randy Keasler.
Q: Did you ever have one of those moments where you came up against one of your former teammates and it was kind of strange? Did you kind of stare each other down or wink or smile or anything?
Thompson: I did play against Eddy Furniss and it was that type of moment. He came to our field the same year we got drafted and everybody was saying ‘this guy can't be that good. This isn't college anymore.' They kept trying to tell me all of that. But I was telling them that ‘he is that good. The guy can hit.' The first night he goes 4 for 4 and I am down in the bullpen doing the ‘I told you so' thing laughing at all the pitchers he is killing. The next night he is 2 for 2 and I get called in to face him in the seventh. He is 6 for 6 so far and I am telling these guys how I think we can get Eddy out. So I go about it that way and I guess Eddy knew me well enough – or he is just better than me, probably just better than me – he hit a double off the top of the wall. That actually chased me from the game. I didn't have a lot of credibility with my teammates after that.
Q: In retrospect, how close is LSU to your heart.
Thompson: Being a part of such a special organization, a special group of people, it was an honor and privilege both to play for such a great university and arguably one of the better baseball programs in the country, if not the best, and for arguably the greatest coach every to coach the sport. To play for a legend like him and with such a prestigious organization, I take a lot of pride in that and it will always be near and dear to my heart. It is almost impossible to have worn the purple and gold and ever forget about it. I will always pull for them.
Doug Thompson recorded the final out of the 1997
national championship game versus
Q: When you walk into a place and see that picture of you on the poster commemorating the 1997 championship team, how does that hit you?
first, it was really strange for me to walk in and to not notice and then
realize I am standing next to my picture on the wall. It was kind of
embarrassing and I still get a little embarrassed about it sometimes just
because it can bring attention in a situation where I might not necessarily want
it. But obviously that is something that no one will ever be able to take away
from me and is something that will be able to show my son one day. It will cool
for my kids one day to be able to look back someday. Ad it is so documented
everywhere and the way
Q: Was that 1997 team arguably the greatest college baseball team ever assembled, in terms of the numbers the team produced, the record and so forth?
Thompson: Obviously I am very biased, but the only really thing that we didn't have that other teams had was two dominant pitchers. When I say that, Patrick Coogan was a dominant pitcher, he was an all-American and was proven. I didn't consider myself a dominant pitcher because my ERA was a high four and if I gave up five my team would score seven. For me, that was testament for the guys hitting the ball. I am not trying to play the real humble guy, but truly I battled a lot out there that year. I would never say that team lacked anything else than that. I think we would have given any team that has ever put on a college baseball uniform a run for its money.
For future issues, we encourage fans to e-mail questions they would like to ask Doug to email@example.com. We will consider every question and those chosen will be published in the new issue.