Rob Thomson’s ‘Topper’ nickname meaning reminiscent of Phillies legend
Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson’s work ethic reminiscent of Roy Halladay
The Philadelphia Phillies will not be where they are today without interim manager Rob Thomson.
Having joined the Phillies after the 2017 season as bench coach — after spending nearly three decades with the New York Yankees organization in various roles — Thomson was named interim manager in early June to replace his longtime friend and fellow 2009 World Series champion, Joe Girardi.
Fast-forward four months later, and Thomson became just the fourth manager in MLB history to take over a team at least seven games under .500 and lead them to a postseason berth. Now, after Friday’s improbable and historic come-from-behind Game 1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Canadian native now has his first postseason managerial victory under his belt.
Game 1 of the 2022 Wild Card Series was exactly 11 years since the Phillies and Cardinals squared off in Game 5 of the 2011 National League Division Series at Citizens Bank Park. Roy Halladay gave all he had, and still, the Phillies fell 1-0 — ending their magical season that saw a franchise-best 102 wins in the regular season.
During Friday’s game, longtime Emmy Award-winning Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay — who with 2009 Phillies foe Álex Rodríguez is broadcasting the Wild Card Series for ESPN at the Gateway City — shed light as to how Thomson got his “Topper” nickname.
"“[Thomson] was the guy who used to put together a very intricate workout for the Yankees’ spring training all the years under Joe Torre. And Joe Torre said that Rob was on top of everything. He would show up at spring training every day at 4:30 in the morning. Nobody could beat him there.”"
Thomson similarly has run Phillies spring training in recent seasons. The meaning behind his “Topper” nickname is reminiscent of the same work ethic that Halladay brought to the Phillies in his four seasons in red pinstripes.
Had Halladay played under Thomson today, it would be hard to guess who would arrive first at the ballpark on any given day.
Rodríguez also noted how when he first arrived at the Yankees organization for spring training in 2004, the late George Steinbrenner told him: “[Rob will] take care of you. He’s my guy.”
"“That meant the world to me. And it also meant a lot to Rob Thomson and [his] relationship with ‘The Boss.'”"
It is just amazing to see a baseball lifer like Thomson finally get his chance to manage at age 59. If the past few months have been any indication, the best is yet to come for his Major League Baseball career.