Eugene Thompson (known by most as Pappy) is a legend among the athletic communities of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. Pappy spent 50 years as pioneer of local sports coverage while working for the Bristol Herald Courier, and his groundbreaking work is now being honored by the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Thompson began his sports career on the playing field, starring in football and basketball at Virginia High School in Bristol, Va. He would continue his playing career in 1925 at Emory & Henry College, where he participated in freshman football and varsity basketball. Thompson would later transfer to King College to pursue a basketball scholarship.
Pappy Thompson was hired by the Bristol Herald Courier in Bristol, Va. in 1929 as a news reporter and was named sports editor in 1940.
Thompson made a name for himself in the region for producing the area’s first comprehensive preseason football preview. He is also credited for chairing the committee that helped bring Little League baseball back to his hometown.
He retired from the Bristol Herald Courier in 1979. Three years later, the Bristol Herald Courier honored Thompson by naming an annual award after him that is given to a local high school senior with outstanding achievement in athletics, academics and community service.
Thompson was a charter member of the Emory & Henry Sports Hall of Fame, was inducted in to the University of Tennessee Press Box Hall of Fame and was chosen for the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. He died April 27, 1988.
Thompson will be officially inducted into the Hall of fame on April 30 along with Jeff Rouse (Olympic gold medalist swimmer), Bill Littlepage (coach, all-time leader in wins for VHSL AAA basketball), Jim Jarrett (Old Dominion athletic director), Tiki Barber (UVa.’s second-leading football rusher), Johnny Newman (University of Richmond all-time leading basketball scorer) and Pernell “Sweatpea” Whitaker (six-time world champion boxer).