Hickory sports complex named in honor of Danny Thompson

HICKORY, NC (October 31, 2022) — The City of Hickory invites the public to attend the naming dedication of the Danny Thompson Field Complex on Friday, November 4, at 11:30 a.m. at Stanford Park.

The program will include comments from Hickory Mayor Hank Guess; current Hickory Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Director Mark Seaman; and local sports legend and retired Hickory Recreation and Parks Director Danny Thompson.

The three softball/baseball fields at Stanford Park are being named the Danny Thompson Field Complex in honor of Thompson’s many athletic accomplishments and contributions to the City of Hickory and the sports community through his leadership and 31-year tenure as Hickory’s Recreation and Parks Director.

Danny Thompson produced a record of high achievement on the playing field and for his college and community. A Catawba County native, Thompson was called “the best second baseman in Lenoir-Rhyne College history” by the late Hanley Painter, longtime LR Coach and Athletic Director.

Born in Brookford, Thompson’s successes on the playing field began when he played baseball while serving in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959. The only non-professional baseball player at Fort Jackson, he was named to the All-Post Team. After he returned home to play for Lenoir-Rhyne College, Thompson started his first baseball game as a freshman and played every inning of every game before graduating from Lenoir-Rhyne in only three years in 1962. He served as captain of a 1962 team that had a record of 16-3, lead the team in hitting during his first two seasons, and made only one error in each of his last two years as a second baseman. He went on to teach and coach for four years after he graduated.

Thompson’s greatest contributions to his community began when he was named Assistant Recreation and Parks Director for the City of Hickory in late 1966, and later as Recreation and Parks Director in June 1967. As Recreation and Parks Director for the City of Hickory, he led Hickory’s parks system through a remarkable period of growth. Under Thompson’s leadership, the City of Hickory’s Parks and Recreation system grew from two to 20 parks and from 15 acres to a total of 700. The system had only one recreation center when he began and featured five recreation centers when he retired, including its first two senior centers. The system’s first tennis courts, soccer pitches, and football fields were developed under his leadership. Many recreation programs now found across the state had their beginnings in the City of Hickory.

Even in the latter part of his career and after retirement, Thompson enjoyed athletic success. He returned to his alma mater to coach the Lenoir-Rhyne baseball team in 1985, 1986, and 1987, leading a program that had not had a winning season in 19 years to a school record of 20 wins in his first season. He also won the Senior State Golf Championship in the age 60 to 64 group in 1998.

Stanford Park is located at 1451 Eighth Street Drive NE in Hickory. For more information about the park, visit www.hickorync.gov/stanford-park. To inquire about booking fields at the Danny Thompson Field Complex at Stanford Park, please call 828-322-7046.

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