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Corunna set to cheer on hometown ‘Philly Rob' as World Series gets underway

Tara Jeffrey The Lyndoch Street restaurant is actually the site of Thomson's old childhood home.
Staff at Antonio’s Pizza in Corunna, including server Ann Maitland and cook Jen Tyndall, are anticipating a busy weekend as hometown fans are set to cheer on Rob Thomson’s Philadephia Phillies in the World Series. (Tara Jeffrey photo)

Tara Jeffrey

The Lyndoch Street restaurant is actually the site of Thomson's old childhood home. (Tara Jeffrey photo)

Things are expected to get loud at Antonio’s Pizza this weekend as hometown fans cheer on Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson as the World Series gets underway.

“Friday is going to be busy,” server Ann Maitland said of the Game 1 matchup between the Phillies and the Houston Astros.

Staff will be clad in Phillies gear - provided by Downriver Creations - and patrons can get in on the ‘Rob Thomson Philly Special’ which includes a medium pizza and pitcher of beer for $45 on World Series game nights, which continue into Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

After all, Thomson’s childhood home — lost in a fire years ago — was located where the the Lyndoch Street restaurant and bar now stands.

A sketch of Rob Thomson's childhood home on Lyndoch Street, now the site of Antonio's Pizza.

Thomson, 59, affectionately known as “Topper” or “Philly Rob” has become a household name since taking the reins of the ball club back in June and steering them from a 22-29 record, to an unexpected playoff berth, and an unprecedented spot in the World Series.

As a kid, he practically grew up on the ball diamonds of Corunna.

“I was always the bat boy,” he told The Journal this summer, when he was named interim general manager of the Phillies — the first Canadian to become a full-time manager in Major League Baseball in nearly 90 years.

He recalled a youth spent following around older brothers Tom and Rick — and their teams — each summer.

“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.

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.

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