Don Mattingly has high praise for “great baseball person” Rob Thomson
Rob Thomson has the stamp of approval from one of the game’s most venerated figures.
"Well, I mean, Thomson’s great. Obviously, I’ve worked with him in New York. Happy for him but obviously when him and his – the guy [Girardi] that brought him here – didn’t work out for him, so you know, if you’re happy for one guy, you’re kinda, you feel for the other. So, but, obviously happy for Rob… great guy, great baseball person, been in the game a long time, and you know, obviously deserving.”"
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Mattingly has a long history with both the current and former Phillies managers. His and Girardi’s careers nearly intersected several times over the decades. The latter played for the Yankees the year after Mattingly retired after spending his entire career with them. Girardi managed the Marlins; Mattingly is now their skipper. They both interviewed to replace Joe Torre in 2007, with Girardi getting the gig.
Where Girardi, Mattingly, and Thomson overlapped, as the Marlins manager mentioned (say that five times fast), was on the Yankees’ coaching staff. Thomson, who’d joined the organization as a minor-league coach in 1990, worked his way up to the major-league coaching staff ahead of the 2004 season, Mattingly coached in the Bronx from 2004-07, and Girardi joined them for the 2005 campaign.
Mattingly was incorrect in saying that Girardi brought Thomson to Philadelphia; in fact, Thomson was hired to coach under Gabe Kapler in 2018. Girardi then replaced Kapler ahead of the 2020 season, only to be replaced by Thomson at the beginning of June.
Nevertheless, an endorsement from Mattingly is high praise. He had a phenomenal playing career before becoming a respected coach and/or manager for the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and now Marlins. In 2020, he was named National League Manager of the Year.
Mattingly is far from the first current or former manager to rave about Thomson. The day he was fired, Girardi was a class act in his comments about his replacement:
"“I’d argue he’s the best coach I’ve been around. He has great baseball sense. I think he deserved a chance a long time ago. I hope he turns this around, runs this team to the playoffs, they do great & that he continues as manager. I love the guy to death.”"
Larry Bowa, who played for, coached, and managed the Phillies, called Thomson, whom he also coached with on the Yankees, “even-keeled.”
Another NL East skipper, Buck Showalter, also gave impressive commentary on Thomson, as the two go back over 30 years:
"“He’s just solid. He has no ego. Well, we all have an ego, but it’s always about the players for him. A lot of people they say ‘Oh, he’s really organized,’ which he is, but he’s got great people skills, too. I think the mistake that a lot of coaches and managers make is they forget how hard the game was to play and how bad they were on a given night. But Robbie doesn’t forget that. He’s just very driven, very consistent, doesn’t have a lot of emotional swings back and forth.“He’s got some toughness about him, trust me. You don’t survive, especially in some of the places he’s been, without toughness. He understands it’s a different gig but I don’t know what else you could do to be prepared for that opportunity. You know, as a competitor in the division, I was hoping they would go in a different direction than Robbie, you know what I’m saying? Robbie is a good hire.”"
While Thomson’s job currently carries the ‘interim’ prefix, if the Phillies keep winning, that could very well change. They won the first eight games of his tenure, and are 9-1 overall since the Phillies put him in charge.