Sarnian loving big league Yankees

DAVE PAUL, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

SARNIA -- It's a good thing Rob Thomson keeps his World Series rings in a safe instead of wearing them. Otherwise, he'd have to get his 2009 jewelry sized for his thumb.

The Sarnia-born New York Yankee third-base coach has been a member of the Bronx Bombers for each of the five World Series championships they have won over the past decade and a half (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009).

However, this year's title was special. For each of the previous World Series wins, Thomson was a member of the Yanks' front office.

But this time, he was on the field when they clinched the title.

"It's a totally different feeling. It's really gratifying," said Thomson, in a telephone interview from Florida, where he lives in the off-season. "You really feel like part of the team. . . You're living it, day in and day out, with the players and the other coaches."

Thomson, 46, spent the previous two seasons as the Yankees bench coach, serving as a sounding board for New York manager Joe Girardi. But this year, he took to the field, manning the coaching box, flashing signals to batters and base runners and making those spontaneous choices to send or hold runners.

While he liked the bench coach role, Thomson said he relished being out on the field in 2009.

"Third-base coaches are like the 10th player," Thomson said. "Our instantaneous decisions can affect outcome of the game.

"I love it. There's some stress involved and you have to be able to deal with that, but I was really happy doing the job this year."

Thomson said the World Series win didn't really hit him until he was rolling down Broadway in the victory parade the next day.

"You had two or three million people out there. It was amazing," he said. "Sometimes, you don't realize just how many Yankees fans there are."

And, as hard as this might be for fans of other teams to believe -- given the Yankees' seemingly limitless payroll and their perennial contender status -- Thomson said the win might have been extra special because fans could have been starting to doubt the club's ability to go all the way.

"We hadn't won since 2000," Thomson said, "and we hadn't been to the ALCS since 2004, when we led Boston three games to none and they came back and won four consecutive games, I think there was a sense of relief."

Thomson said the Yankees, while often target of boo birds on the road, have a huge fan base across the U.S. He compares it to being part of the Beatles entourage.

"The Yankees are so intertwined with baseball history," Thomson said. "You have . . . all the stars -- Jeter, A-Rod, CC. We have a big following."

Yes, they do have the stars. And they added another recently, when they traded for centrefielder Curtis Granderson. Thomson said he's looking forward to seeing the former Detroit Tiger star in the Yankee lineup.

"You build from the middle out -- catcher, second base, shortstop and centrefield. It always helps your club when you can upgrade up the middle," Thomson said. "And I think he'll be very successful. I don't think he'll have any problems adjusting. He seems like a Yankee type of guy."


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