For all the star power the Phillies boast, their run to the World Series has been anything but predictable. The same can be said for the rise of their manager Rob Thomson.
Thomson entered spring training as the bench coach and will travel to Minute Maid Park on Friday night as manager of the National League champions.
The lifer has received rave reviews from Phillies players since replacing Joe Girardi in June.
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Bryce Harper wore a shirt in August with Thomson’s face emblazoned with “I ride Philly Rob.” Rhys Hoskins recently said that Thomson “reminds us why we chose to play this game”, which is perhaps the best compliment a manager can receive.
“I Ride With Philly Rob” (from Bryce Harper’s IG) pic.twitter.com/WO7jm8pWkc
— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) August 30, 2022
Thomson’s rise to pennant-winning manager is not the most traditional, but it may remind fans of last year’s World Series-winning Braves manager Brian Snitker’s journey to reach baseball’s biggest stage.
Here’s what you need to know about Rob Thomson:
When did Rob Thomson become Phillies manager?
Thomson was named the Phillies’ interim manager on June 3 when the team fired Joe Girardi. It may have been a sensitive moment for Thomson, who worked with Girardi with the Yankees, but he took over a 22-29 Phillies team. If he wants to reach the postseason, start winning fast.
Despite missing Bryce Harper for most of the season, the Phillies responded to the change and finished in the NL’s final postseason berth.
Thomson, who was publicly praised by his players throughout the season, was named the Phillies’ full-time manager on October 10, two days after sweeping the Philadelphia Cardinals in the Wild Card Series.
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Thomson’s coaching career began in 1988 in the Tigers’ minor league system. Two years later, he joined the Yankees’ system as a minor league third base coach. Thomson made the jump to the Yankees’ front office in 1998, working his way up to director of player development before joining the team’s major league staff in 2008.
Over the next decade, he spent time as a bench coach and third base coach under Girardi. After the Yankees fired Girardi in 2017, Gabe Kapler hired Thomson as the hitting coach in Philadelphia.
Surviving Thomson Kapler’s firing, the Phillies’ decision to hire Girardi kept the baseball lifer on staff as a bench coach. With Girardi out of the picture, Thomson finally got his chance.
“Every day I walk out of my apartment and cross the street and think I’m going to get hit by a bus or something,” Thomson told MLB.com recently, amazed that his rise has happened so quickly.
How old is Rob Thomson?
Thomson was born on August 16, 1963. He is 59 years old. He is the eighth-oldest active MLB manager, part of a recent surge in veteran managerial hiring.
But in the 2022 World Series, Thomson is decidedly younger than Astros manager Dusty Baker, who at 73 is the oldest active manager in the league.
What is Rob Thomson’s managerial record?
Thomson went 65-46 as Phillies manager after Girardi’s stint. He enters the World Series with a 9-2 record in the postseason.
The Phillies were 22-29 when Thomson took the reins, but they hit a 95-win pace after the change and carried that momentum into October.
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Although Thomson has a lifetime of experience in baseball, his experience as a major league manager differs significantly from Baker’s. Baker managed 3,884 regular season games while Thomson managed just 111.
Did Rob Thomson play in the major leagues?
Thomson did not make a major league appearance. He spent time as a catcher in the Tigers’ minor league system, but never made it past Single-A Lakeland. Detroit took him in the 32nd round in 1985 after a college career that began in Thomson’s native Canada — he was born in Sarnia, Ont., northeast of Detroit and graduated from the University of Kansas.
After starting two games for Lakeland in 1988, Thomson quickly jumped into the Tigers’ system as a coach.