Canadian Rob Thomson named Phillies interim manager

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Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) has been named interim manager of the Phillies. Photo: Twitter

June 3, 2022

By Kevin Glew

Cooperstowners in Canada

The Philadelphia Phillies have fired manager Joe Girardi and have named Canadian Rob Thomson (Corunna, Ont.) as their interim dugout boss for the remainder of the 2022 season.

The underperforming Phillies, who are currently seven games below .500, made the announcement on Friday morning.

Thomson, who’s in his fifth season as Phils’ bench coach, has stood in as manager for Girardi on several occasions during their tenures together with the Phillies and New York Yankees, but this will be Thomson’s first extended run as a big league skipper.

“I am extremely excited for this opportunity and I appreciate the confidence Dave [Dombrowski] has shown in me,” said Thomson in a statement released by Phillies. “Having said that, this is an emotional day for me, having worked so closely with Joe for so many years. This has been my home now for the last five years and I care deeply about this franchise, this city, our players, our coaches, our staff and our fans. I am ready to lead this team and look forward to getting to work and turning this around.”

Now in his 38th season in professional baseball, Thomson will become the 56th manager in Phillies’ history. He will also become the first Canadian to serve as a full-time big league manager since George Gibson (London, Ont.) did so with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934.

Born in 1963 in Sarnia, Ont., Thomson grew up in nearby Corunna. A standout player for the Intercounty League’s Stratford Hillers in the early ’80s, Thomson was recruited by Dick Groch, later a famous New York Yankees scout, to play for St. Clair Community College. The young Canadian suited up there for one year before transferring to the University of Kansas.

In 1984, Thomson was part of the Canadian squad that competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles when baseball was a demonstration sport. The following year, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 32nd round of MLB draft.

The Canuck catcher/third baseman would advance as high as the class-A level before shifting his focus to coaching in 1988. He served as a minor league coach in the Tigers’ system for two seasons before joining the Yankees in 1990.

Over the next three decades, the hard-working Canadian evolved into one of the most respected coaches in the professional ranks. After serving in several capacities in the Bombers’ organization, including minor league coach, manager, field coordinator and director of player development, he joined the Yankees’ big league staff as a special assignment instructor in 2004.

Four years later, he was hired as Yankees bench coach and that season, he managed three games in Girardi’s absence. From 2009 to 2014, Thomson was the Yankees’ third base coach, and he played an important role on the Bombers’ 2009 World Series-winning club. He returned to the bench coach role in 2015 and worked in that capacity through 2017. Thomson had also organized spring training for the Yankees since 1998 and secured five World Series rings during his lengthy tenure with the franchise.

In December 2017, Thomson was hired by the Phillies to be their bench coach and he had served in that capacity ever since.

“It has been a frustrating season for us up until this point, as we feel that our club has not played up to its capabilities,” said Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski in a statement. “While all of us share the responsibility for the shortcomings, I felt that a change was needed and that a new voice in the clubhouse would give us the best chance to turn things around. I believe we have a talented group that can get back on track, and I am confident that Rob, with his experience and familiarity with our club, is the right man to lead us going forward.”

Thomson was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., in 2019.

10 thoughts on “Canadian Rob Thomson named Phillies interim manager

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  1. Ruben Lipszyc – Calgary, Canada – I write about baseball. I'm a member of the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, and I write about my Red Sox and keep Albertans up to date on local baseball happenings at RubensBaseball.blogspot.com. I occasionally also write articles for the Canadian Baseball Network at www.CanadianBaseballNetwork.com.
    Ruben Lipszyc says:

    I’d always thought he was from the Sarnia area (Corunna being close enough). But the MLB press release mentions Stratford. https://www.mlb.com/news/joe-girardi-dismissed-as-phillies-manager Was that just a typo by them, or was he actually born there and then just grew up near Sarnia?

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Hi Ruben. Thanks for the note. That’s incorrect in their release. Thomson lives in Stratford in the off-season these days, but was born in Sarnia and raised in Corunna.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, indeed, he is qualified.

  2. Tom Valcke – Stratford, Ontario – Tom Valcke put his iCASE Baseball Academy as well as his position of Head Coach at George Brown College into hiatus, when Hong Kong brought him there in 2018 to serve as head coach of their Men's Olympic baseball team, where he finished with unprecedented success in the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, spiking their WBSC World Ranking from #41 to #28 in just one year under his tutelage. China then scooped up Valcke, as he became the GM and Head Coach of Panda Sport and Culture, a division of the China Olympic Federation, overseeing baseball and softball, and training the national team coaches of baseball and softball, men's and women's teams. Panda Sport and Culture is based in Zhongshan, China's nationally recognized "#1 Baseball City," located on the southeast tip of China, and has a climate much like Florida. On his own initiative, he spent his evenings working with the local coaches of Zhongshan's local amateur youth baseball teams. For the first time in history, the same city won all four 2019 China National Championship gold medals, in 18U, 15U, 12U and 10U, that city being Zhongshan! Valcke worked with the China Baseball Association and Major League Baseball in helping the world's largest country accelerate their evolution into baseball, and helped them design and build a professional baseball stadium, a 600-room dormitory, and a new HQ for Panda Sport and Culture, where he held the role of CEO, in charge of a staff of 60. Valcke, former Technical Director, and Executive Director of Baseball Canada, and former coach of Team Canada, remains a baseball analyst with CBC Canada Radio and TV. The former president/CEO of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who spent a decade as the Canadian Supervisor with the Major League Baseball Central Scouting Bureau, served as a television broadcaster for the Montreal Expos, the GM of the Calgary Cannons Triple-A club, and the CEO/Head Coach of the World Children's Baseball Fair. He is the proud father of Alanna, Jaxon and Mia, and lucky husband of Paula since 1987. Jaxon and Mia are current star players and captains, respectively, of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds baseball and softball teams. Mia also became the second female in history to play in World Cups for Team Canada Women's baseball team as well as Team Canada Women's softball team. https://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com/canadian-baseball-network-articles/baseball-nomad-valcke-a-top-amateur-executive http://www.wbsc.org/csta-prestige-awards-honors-tom-valcke/ https://cooperstownersincanada.com/2012/01/23/valcke-recognized-for-global-baseball-efforts/
    Tom Valcke says:

    A well-deserved and overdue opportunity for Thomson. Nobody comes by FIVE rings by accident. He has dealt with every type of player in every type of situation, and has had success at every level. His work ethic is exceeded by nobody, and is highly respected by the players. Never a spotlight kind of guy, just wants the players and teams he coaches to play to their potential, whatever it takes. His pedigree far outjustifies this move, hats off to you Mr. Dombrowski!

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      I agree, Tom. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. cooperstownersincanada – Kevin Glew is a professional writer based in London, Ontario. His work has been featured on CBC Sports, Sportsnet.ca, MLB.com and Sympatico.ca. He has also written articles for Baseball Digest, Baseball America, The Hockey News, Sports Market Report and the Canadian Baseball Network. He has been involved with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame for more than 16 years, including a two-year stint as the museum's acting curator.
      cooperstownersincanada says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree.

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