October 10, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
The Philadelphia Phillies have signed Canadian manager Rob Thomson to a two-year contract extension.
The announcement came two days after the Corunna, Ont., native led the Phillies to a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in their Wild Card Series. The Phillies will now face the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves in a National League Division Series that will begin on Tuesday afternoon.
“As time progressed, it became apparent that Rob was the right person to lead this team and our club’s on-field performance over the course of the season certainly reinforced that,” said David Dombrowski, the Phillies president of baseball operations in a statement on Monday.
“His calm demeanor and ability to communicate with players and staff has greatly benefitted the Phillies and we are excited to formally name him our manager going forward. While a great deal of credit for the turnaround of our season goes to the players, Rob’s leadership style has also made a significant impact.”
When the Phillies ousted the Cardinals, Thomson became the first Canadian manager to win a postseason series since Bill Watkins (Brantford, Ont.) led the National League’s Detroit Wolverines to a World Series win over the American Association’s St. Louis Browns in 1887.
Thomson is the 56th manager in Phillies history. The Phillies were 22-29 when the 59-year-old Canadian replaced Joe Girardi as the team’s manager on June 3. He then guided them to a 65-46 record to secure the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2011.
According to the Phillies’ release, Thomson is just “the fourth manager in major league history to take over a team at least seven games under .500 and lead them to the postseason.” The other three skippers to accomplish that are Dick Howser (1981, Kansas City Royals), Cito Gaston (1989, Toronto Blue Jays) and Jim Tracy (2009, Colorado Rockies).
“I could not be prouder of the group of players, coaches and staff that have made this all possible,” said Thomson in a statement issued by the Phillies on Monday. “This is a great group, one that has shown resiliency and overcome adversity all season to get us where we are today. I am honoured and humbled to continue as manager of this club.”
Thomson is no stranger to the postseason. During his close to three decades as a coach in the New York Yankees’ organization, he earned five World Series rings and was the Bombers’ third base coach on their most recent World Series-winning squad in 2009.
Born in 1963, Thomson grew up in Corunna, Ont. In 1984, he was part of the Canadian squad that competed in the 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.
A catcher/third baseman, Thomson advanced 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.
In December 2017, Thomson was hired by the Phillies to be their bench coach.