Phillies: Milt Thompson named head coach of baseball academy

Milt Thompson, 2008 Phillies World Series champion hitting coach, will soon help graduating high school senior athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder and 2008 World Series champion hitting coach Milt Thompson‘s life and career have been dedicated to the game of baseball. And, now, while the sport he loves is on hold in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thompson is doing everything he can to make sure it gets back on the right foot.

Especially for its future professional athletes.

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On Wednesday, the 61-year-old agreed to become the head coach of the Scanzano Sports and Performance Academy (SSPA), a post-graduate baseball program, based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, created to help graduating high school senior athletes who are affected by the pandemic.

The 13-year Major League Baseball veteran with more than four decades of overall professional baseball experience recently told the Courier-Post that he is “eager to help” and that the coaching opportunity is “wonderful” to “give these kids a chance.”

Thompson will also lead group instruction, camps and private lessons as part of his new role. Yet, he has already been providing instruction for several years; as recently as just prior to the pandemic, he gave advice to youth athletes near his South Jersey residence: “I love to see the smiles on their faces when when I teach them and they figure things out. My goal for these kids is to get them a free education. Get them a scholarship. The reason I work with young kids is I want to train them the right way. Once you train them the right way and they have fun in the game, they will continue to play the game.”

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John Scanzano, who also is the head coach at King’s Christian, shared with the Courier-Post that he has high hopes for the academy. He says Thompson is “someone you could trust” and will teach all about the game: “We sat down for a half-hour when I met him, and he was telling me stories and about his mindset on the game of baseball and hitting, and I learned things from him in a half-hour conversation that I hadn’t known before.”

After departing the Phillies organization following the disappointing 2010 NLCS defeat to the San Francisco Giants, Thompson was the Houston Astros’ minor-league outfield and baserunning instructor from 2011-2012. Over the next four seasons, he served as the Kansas City Royals’ outfield, bunting and baserunning coordinator, as well as Class-A Wilmington hitting coach in 2014. Most recently, he spent the last three years serving as the Cincinnati Reds minor-league hitting coordinator.

Thompson was on the Phillies’ major league coaching staff for several seasons, and played a key role in their back-to-back World Series appearances in 2008 and 2009. During the 1993 National League championship season as a player on the team, he hit .262 with 89 hits and 44 RBI in 129 games.

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“After he departed from the Reds, he decided he was tired of hotels after 41 years, but he still wanted to teach,” the Courier-Post’s Josh Friedman writes. “Then he heard about the Scanzanos’ program, which the brothers started to help seniors affected by the coronavirus and canceled spring season.”

Thompson says he knows graduating seniors who sign up for the academy will be serious about wanting to improve their game. He wants to provide his point of view, with him having experience playing and coaching in both the minors and majors: “I just have a different level of knowledge of the game, how it’s played and what [teams/colleges] are looking for, and what it takes to get to the next level.”

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