2012-2013 Durham Bulls
Rich Thompson appeared in a Triple A baseball game during twelve different seasons starting in 2001 and stretching out until 2013. However, if you talk to people who follow Minor League Baseball, the most important stop on Rich Thompson's journey was actually with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, which is the Phillies Triple A team. He first appeared for that team in 2008 and managed to stay there until he was picked up by the Rays in a trade during the 2012 season. It's hard to really associate a Minor League player with a Minor League team, but if I could name one player who fits that mold it's got to be Thompson and Lehigh Valley. Or if you are a Rays fan who stops by to read this blog: Thompson is to Phillies Minor League fans what Justin Ruggiano is to Rays Minor League fans. Although I would argue that Thompson is more popular with that fan base than Ruggiano is with the Rays. Thompson played two partial season in Durham. His 2012 season was pretty good. His 2013 season was not so good.
The most important part about Thompson's time in Durham was that it provided him with his longest chance to play in the Majors during his long professional baseball career. He played a few games with the Royals in 2004, but the Rays gave Thompson a full 23 games. Those games included 23 at-bats and just two hits. His career ended when he broke his foot fielding a ball in the outfield.
Thompson was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2000 out of James Madison University. He did not have any baseball cards his first two years as a professional baseball player, but started appearing in 2002 sets after a strong 2001 season with the Blue Jays High A and Triple A teams. Quite a jump in a season. A batting average over .300 and almost 50 steals lead way for Thompson to appear in all of the Bowman products in 2002, along with the Topps Traded set and the Topps 206 set. They're all nice cards, but we are going autographs first on these posts and this 2002 Bowman's Best card is all that is out there. Not the best year for Bowman, but the cards all feature on-card signatures and the design is decent. Although decidedly early 2000s.