Phillies manager Rob Thomson within reach of a unique record

Nov 1, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson (59) waits to be introduced before game three of the 2022 World Series against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson (59) waits to be introduced before game three of the 2022 World Series against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Philadelphia Phillies complete their surprising run to a World Series victory, their manager, Rob Thomson, will set a little-known record.

As for the Phillies as a team, it won’t miss a fascinating record of its own by much.

Thomson, a long-time coach promoted to manager when Joe Girardi was dismissed on June 3, has a chance to ascend to the game’s pinnacle achievement in fewer games than any manager in major league history.

If his Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series in seven games, it would be only the 129th game of Thomson’s managerial career. He could also do it in 128 games if the Phils win the Series in six games.

In the history of the World Series, only five managers have taken a team to victory in their debut managerial season. But, unlike Thomson, all of the other five had worked the entire regular season, meaning none came anywhere close to wrapping up a World Series title in as few games as Thomson would need.

Here’s the list of ultimately successful rookie managers Thomson is trying to join, along with the number of games it took each manager to win the World Series. In every case, the game total counts both regular season and post-season games.

1. — Bucky Harris, 1924 Washington Senators, 161 games.

2. — Eddie Dyer, 1946 St. Louis Cardinals, 163 games.

3. — Ralph Houk, 1961 New York Yankees, 168 games.

4. — Alex Cora, 2018 Boston Red Sox,176 games.

5. — Bob Brenly, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, 179 games.

When Harris set the record in 1924, his Senators played a 154-game regular season plus a seven-game World Series, accounting for his 161 games. Due to a scheduling quirk, Dyer’s 1946 Cardinals played 156 regular-season games before winning a seven-game World Series over the Boston Red  Sox.

Houk’s 1961 Yankees played a 163-game regular season (including one tie that was replayed) before taking out the Cincinnati Reds in five games.

Counting both regular season and postseason outcomes, a seven-game Phillies victory would allow Thomson to accept the trophy with a career managerial record of 78-51 (.605). He could raise that percentage to .609 if the Phillies clean out the Astros in six games.

Of the five rookie champions, three achieved a higher overall winning percentage — counting both regular season and post-season outcomes — than Thomson. Houk’s 1961 Yankees so dominated the American League that he walked off with the trophy and a .677 career winning percentage.

In 2018, Cora could boast a .676 winning percentage as a manager when his Red Sox won the 2018 World Series. Dyer’s overall record was 102-61 with the 1946 Cardinals, a .626 percentage.

Two other managers took over teams after the season started and won the World Series. Bob Lemon did so with the 1978 New York Yankees and Jack McKeon led the 2003 Florida Marlins to a championship after replacing Jeff Torborg.

But both Lemon and Torborg had extensive previous major league managerial experience. Lemon managed the Kansas City Royals from 1970 through 1972 and also managed the Chicago White Sox before replacing Billy Martin in New York.

McKeon came to the Marlins with more than 1,500 games of managerial experience across three decades. Like Lemon, he managed the Royals in the 1970s, later moving to the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds before arriving in Florida.

Thomson’s Phillies cannot literally set a record for World Series champions with the fewest regular season victories … but they would come close.

In Series history, only eight teams claimed the prize after a regular season in which they won fewer than 90 games. And let’s be clear that we’re talking about full seasons here, so teams that won in seasons shortened by pandemic (2020), labor strife (1981 and 1995) or war (1918-1919) don’t count.

The Phillies completed their regular season with just 87 victories, good for third place in the NL East. If they win the Series, that would equal the third smallest regular season total by a World Series champion.  Here is a list of the eight teams to date that won a World Series with fewer than 90 regular season victories.

2006 St. Louis Cardinals — 83

1987 Minnesota Twins — 85

2000 New York Yankees — 87

1945 Detroit Tigers — 88

1959 Los Angeles Dodgers — 88

2014 San Francisco Giants — 88

2021 Atlanta Braves — 88

1926 St. Louis Cardinals — 89

Harper becoming Philly legend with postseason homers. dark. Next

The pre-1962 teams on this list played only a 154-game regular season schedule. Not that it means anything but, with a nod to Ford Frick, let it be noted that at their 154th regular-season game, the Phillies had just 83 victories. Of course the 2006 Cardinals only had 80 wins through 154 games, so there’s no real need to keep an asterisk handy.