LAWRENCE — Rob Thomson’s improbable run to Major League Baseball’s World Series this past year, as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, has its roots in his time playing college baseball for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Thomson, initially the Phillies’ interim manager, played three years at Kansas from 1983-85. As he became one of the best hitters in program history, he set the record for single-season batting average at .443. And this past Saturday, he spoke to the Jayhawks’ future with new head coach Dan Fitzgerald.
Rob Thomson believes the future is bright
Thomson said he and Fitzgerald, who was an assistant at LSU before being hired at Kansas ahead of the 2023 season, have spoken often since Fitzgerald took over. He thinks Fitzgerald has done a great job so far and — in addition to loving the players — understands the game and is energetic. Fitzgerald is attempting to lead the Jayhawks back to an NCAA regional for the first time since 2014, and a Big 12 Conference title for the first time since it won the conference tournament in 2006.
“As I said last night, at the banquet, I don’t think it’s too far from a national championship, this program,” Thomson said. “It’s not too far away.”
Rob Thomson hopes someone breaks his program record
Thomson said he hasn’t been checking over the years to see if someone’s hit better at Kansas over the course of a season than he has, but he hopes someone does. If that happens, he thinks, that means the Jayhawks are probably doing well. He added records are meant to be broken.
“How did I do it? A lot of luck,” Thomson said. “I’m telling you, a lot of luck.”
What it meant to Rob Thomson to return to Kansas
Thomson said he was so happy Fitzgerald asked to have him back, and was honored and proud to do so. He thinks the facilities have improved immensely, compared to when he played at Kansas. And he’s glad the players in the program right now can experience it.
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. He is the National Sports Media Association’s sportswriter of the year for the state of Kansas for 2022. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.