Former Stratford Hiller Rob Thomson gets Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame nod

CAMBRIDGE – The Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is please to announce that former Stratford Hiller Rob Thomson has been selected as a 2019 entry into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Born in 1963 in Sarnia, Ont., Rob Thomson grew up in nearby Corunna. A standout player for the Intercounty League’s Stratford Hillers in the early ’80s, Thomson was recruited by Dick Groch, later a famous New York Yankees scout, to play for St. Clair Community College. The young Canadian suited up there for one year before transferring to the University of Kansas.

In 1984, Thomson was part of the Canadian squad that competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles when baseball was a demonstration sport. The following year, he was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 32nd round of MLB draft.

The Canuck catcher/third baseman would advance as high as the class-A level before shifting his focus to coaching in 1988. He served as a minor league coach in the Tigers system for two seasons before joining the New York Yankees in 1990. Over the next 28 seasons, the hard-working Canadian evolved into one of the most respected coaches in the professional ranks. After serving in several capacities in the Bombers’ organization, including minor league coach, manager, field coordinator and director of player development, he joined the Yankees’ big league staff as a special assignment instructor in 2004.

Four years later, he was hired as Yankees bench coach and that season, he managed three games in Joe Girardi’s absence to become the first Canadian to manage a major league contest since George Gibson with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1934. From 2009 to 2014, Thomson was the Yankees’ third base coach, and he played an important role on the Bombers’ 2009 World-Series-winning club. He returned to the bench coach role in 2015 and worked in that capacity through 2017. Thomson had also organized spring training for the Yankees since 1998 and secured five World Series rings during his lengthy tenure with the franchise.

In December 2017, Thomson was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies to be their bench coach and he is now in his second season in that role.

“I am humbled and honoured to be inducted into Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame!” said Thomson. “Growing up in Corunna Ontario, I would have never dreamt that such an honour would be bestowed onto me. Congratulations to Gord, Ryan and Jason! My Canadian pride will be shining at its brightest as I get inducted on the same day with three fellow Canadians who have achieved so many fantastic things in our great sport. I look forward to June 15th to not only share the day with Gord, Ryan and Jason but also with my family and many people that have touched my life and continue to do so!”