Five Things: A look at Phillies manager and Sarnia, Ont., native Rob Thomson

Canada's Rob Thomson has guided the Philadelphia Phillies on an improbable journey to the World Series.

The native of Sarnia, Ont., took over as manager of a sub-. 500 team on June 3 and helped the Phillies turn their season around, eventually claiming the final post-season spot in the National League before winning three playoff rounds.

Now the Houston Astros await in the Fall Classic starting Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

MAKING HIS MARK

The Phillies responded immediately to Thomson's promotion from bench coach to interim skipper when Joe Girardi was let go after a 22-29 start to the season.

Philadelphia won eight games in a row en route to an 87-win campaign and third-place finish in the National League East division standings.

The Phillies swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card series, upset the Atlanta Braves in the division series and defeated the San Diego Padres to win the pennant.

Philadelphia is making its first World Series appearance since 2009.

STRATFORD STAR

Thomson, who grew up in the small town of Corunna, Ont., was a star for the Stratford Hillers of the Intercounty Baseball League in the early 1980s.

He reached the Class-A level as a player before making the transition to coaching in 1988. Thomson joined the New York Yankees organization in 1990.

After working his way up through the minor leagues, Thomson was named a big-league bench coach with the Yankees in 2008. New York beat Philadelphia in the World Series a year later.

REUNION ARENA

An interleague series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Phillies last summer was special to Thomson for a number of reasons.

He became the first Canadian to manage a Major League Baseball game in his home country and also got a chance to connect with many friends and family who were on hand.

Eight members of Canada's 1984 Olympic baseball team also rented out a suite at Rogers Centre that night for the occasion.

Thomson was a catcher on the national squad that competed at the Los Angeles Games when baseball was a demonstration sport.

BY GEORGE

Thomson is the first Canadian to serve as a full-time big-league manager since George (Mooney) Gibson back in 1934.

Gibson, a native of London, Ont., was a catcher with the Eastern League's Montreal Royals in 1904. He went on to spend over a decade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and played 1,213 big-league games over his career.

He also had two stints as manager of the Pirates (1920-23, 1932-34) and also served as Chicago Cubs skipper in 1925.

Both Gibson and Thomson are Canadian Baseball Hall of Famers.

TAG REMOVAL

The Phillies rewarded Thomson earlier this month by signing him to a two-year contract extension.

The team also removed the interim tag from his manager title.

His deal runs through the 2024 campaign.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2022.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press