Hall of Famer Torre explains origin of 'Topper,' the nickname he gave Thomson


WASHINGTON -- While basking in the postgame glow of his game-winning, three-run homer and the Phillies’ 11th win in 13 games Wednesday, Garrett Stubbs gave a little shout out to the skipper.

“Topper is the man,” said Stubbs, employing one of manager Rob Thomson’s nicknames.

The Phillies entered Thursday night’s game in Washington with a 10-2 record under Thomson, who took over for Joe Girardi on June 3.

Thomson, 58, answers to a couple of different nicknames. His preferred one is simply “Thoms”, shorthand for his last name.

The one he’s often identified with is the one Stubbs used – Topper.

Hall of Famer Joe Torre is the man who gave Thomson that nickname. Thomson spent five seasons working under Torre on the New York Yankees coaching staff. One of his specialties was running the Yankees’ spring training camp.

Torre was a visitor to Citizens Bank Park earlier this week and he came clean on the origin of the nickname.

“Topper,” Torre said. “He was very organized. He lived at the ballpark. He was there all the time. I’d get to the park in spring training by a quarter to 7 and he was already there finishing his work. He had it all mapped out and ready on my desk to look at. And he was a stickler for precision. With more than 50 guys in camp, that’s not easy.

“We thought we were doing good and all of a sudden he was there longer and stayed longer after we left.”


In other words, Thomson was always on top of everything.

Hence, Topper.

Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007 and moved on to the Dodgers in 2008. He wanted to hire Thomson on his Dodgers staff.

“I tried to take him with me, but he had been with the Yankees and felt a loyalty to stay there, to his credit,” Torre said.

Girardi succeeded Torre in New York and Thomson became Girardi’s bench coach. Thomson came to Philadelphia as bench coach under Gabe Kapler in 2018 and remained in the role when Girardi became Phillies skipper before the 2020 season. Now, Girardi is gone and Thomson is getting his first shot to manage in the majors.

“I’m thrilled for him,” Torre said. “I hate the fact that Joey lost his job because he was one of mine, too. But I’m thrilled that Rob’s ability was recognized.

“I wish him well. He’s loved the game. He’s lived the game. I’ve always looked at baseball as this is not a game you play, it’s a game you live and he’s done that.”