The Phillies traveled to Winter Haven today, leaving via buses at 9 this morning.
A year ago on the same date, we were also in the same Florida city playing the same Cleveland team.
All that pales in comparison to what happened a year ago on this date….long-time coach John Vukovich succumbed to brain cancer. We knew he was struggling but the news hit the camp like a ton of bricks.
Vuk wasn’t able to make Clearwater at all last year. His presence was missed in so many ways.
Since last year, we lost two others who were regulars in spring training, Larry Rojas and Johnny Podres. They were fixtures at the minor league camp at Carpenter Field, sitting on the south side of the big clubhouse watching activity on the Mike Schmidt field.
Spring training isn’t the same without them. Fortunately, memories of them will last a lifetime.