Rob Thomson, who started out as a bat boy for his big brothers growing up in Corunna, is headed to the World Series.
The 59-year-old manager of the Philadelphia Phillies led the team to Sunday’s Game 5 NLCS Championship win with a 4-3 win over the San Diego Padres, punching their ticket to the World Series where they’ll face the Houston Astros later this week.
Thomson, who took the reigns of the struggling team back in June, becomes the first Canadian manager to lead a major League Baseball team to the World Series since Brantford’s Bill Watkins did so in 1887, according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.
Thomson told the Journal back in June that he watched his older brothers Rick and Tom play ball in Corunna before picking up a bat and glove himself.
“I was just around the ball parks all the time,” he said of Corunna’s Duggan and Stewart fields on Hill Street.
“My father was a pretty good baseball guy too, and he coached for many years. Being around the game all the time — I just fell in love with it.”
When he reached Bantam age, Thomson played in Sarnia for Larry Lecour and the late Glenn Lecour, before moving on to the Stratford Hillers in the early 1980s. Recruiters drew him to St. Clair Community College in Port Huron, and a year later he transferred to the University of Kansas.
The catcher and third baseman represented Canada at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, before the Detroit Tigers drafted him in the 32nd round.
In 1988, Thomson set his sights on managing and served as Detroit’s minor league coach for two seasons.
He then joined the Yankees and spent the next 28 years in various roles including bench coach and third base coach — earning five World Series rings in the process.
He made history in 2008 when in Joe Girardi’s absence he led the Yankees for three games. It was the first time since 1934 that a Canadian had managed a Major League team in regular season play.
He joined the Phillies as bench coach in 2017, and was named to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame two years later.
The Phillies were just 22-29 this season when Thomson was named interim general manager in June — marking the first Canadian to become a full-time manager in Major League Baseball in nearly 90 years.
They punched their ticket to the MLB postseason for the first time since 2011.
Earlier this month, Thomson’s ‘interim’ title was removed and the team signed him to a two-year contract extension.
An exhibit honouring Thomson is on display now at the Moore Museum, which is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.