August 2011

Goodnight Irene

Irene isn’t even here yet but the pending hurricane has created a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, following the movement of Sunday’s game to Saturday afternoon.  Sunday’s forecast is a very soggy one so the Phillies appealed to MLB to move it up a day.

So, the Marlins will face Doc and Cliff in one day.  It will be a restless Friday night for the Marlins bats nestled in the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

There is so much made today of pitch count, pitching on three or four or five days, days off and innings accumulated.

Well, back on September 6, 1950, right-hander Don Newcombe started both games for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the first-place Phillies.  It was the old-fashioned doubleheader in which the second game immediately followed the first game.  The usual time between games in those situations is 25 minutes.

Newcombe pitched a complete game, 2-0 shutout, allowing only three hits.  He was lifted after the seventh inning with the Dodgers trailing, 2-0.  Brooklyn rallied for a 3-2 win.  For the day, Newcombe gave up two runs on 11 hits and two walks in 16 innings. The record shows Newcombe lost his next two starts, allowing a total of 10 earned runs in 13 innings. 

Can you imagine the buzz if Doc walked to the bullpen on Saturday night to start that game, too?

Phil-Ins
Both games Saturday will be televised by PHL . . . Series starts tonight with Roy-O on the mound.  Phillies are 9-3 against the Marlins, outscoring them, 64-30 . . . Marlins play better on the road (33-31) than at home (25-41) . . . Since 2005, the Phillies are 118-76 in August, best record in the NL . . . Phillies are scheduled to fly to Cincinnati on Sunday. Monday’s game against the Reds will be on ESPN . . . Happy Birthday today: coach Billy DeMars, 86; RH reliever Fred Wenz, 70; RH reliever Jeff Parrett, 50 and RH reliever Ricky Bottalico, 42.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in major league baseball?  That question was posed to Phillies Alumni.

John Herrnstein (OF-1B, 1862-65)
“I think baseball should standardize all the playing field dimensions (outfielder distances to fence) so every park is identical: majors, minors, college, etc.  Then all the stats would be truly meaningful; an apples to apples comparison.”

 

Marlins, Irene Next

A boot of a potential double play was later followed by a three-run bomb and the Phillies couldn’t recover from a four-run first inning deficit on Wednesday afternoon.

Defense is a Phillies strength.  They have the fewest errors in the majors (56).  This time it cost them.  KK gave up six runs in four innings but four were unearned. 

Eleven runs, 23 hits, four errors and 10 walks made for a long afternoon.  Ten pitchers threw 357 pitches.

So, that game is behind. Marlins come to town for the weekend starting Friday night.  Challenge seems to be coming from hurricane Irene.

Numbers
Lowest ERAs in the NL belong to the Phillies (3.08), Giants (3.15), Braves (3.30) and Padres (3.40).  Mix in the AL, the same four sit atop. 

Fewest home runs allowed: 79, Giants; second is 90, Phillies.  Remember all the media criticism that Citizens Bank Park was a band-box and good pitchers would never want to pitch for the Phillies?

Today In Phillies History
1922: In one of the wildest games ever played, the Cubs beat the Phillies, 26-23. The Cubs led 25-6 in the fourth inning but held on as the game ended with the Phillies leaving the bases loaded.  Wonder how many pitches were thrown.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in Major League Baseball?  The question was posed to Phillies Alumni.

Jim Eisenreich, (OF, 1993-96)
“I would like to see a change in the speed of the game.  I like to watch the game for the game and the other stuff like commercials could be a little less. I say that knowing that the commercials pay the bills.”

Down On The Farm
OF Brandon Moss hit his 23rd homer, SS Freddy Galvis had 3 hits as Lehigh Valley won, 6-5, in Louisville to remain 1 game out of first place . . . RHR Michael Cisco (8-0) picked up the win with 3.1 scoreless innings as Reading rallied for a 4-2 win in New Britain . . . RHS Jonathon Pettibone allowed 1 run in 7 innings but didn’t get the decision in Clearwater’s 2-1 loss to Brevard County . . . 2B Carlos Alonso had a double and homer and LHS Jesse Biddle (7-8) gave up 0 runs on 1 hit in 5 innings in Lakewood’s 5-1 win at Delmarva . . . Williamsport scored 5 in the top of the ninth but fell short, 8-7, in Batavia, dropping to 2.5 games out of first place . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies lost, 6-3, at the Pirates.  Season ends Saturday.

 

 

Vance, John Jr. Continue Torrid Paces

Vance turned in yet another outstanding performance by a Phillies starter.  Phillies have won their last 12 games started by the rookie.  That’s the longest streak (single season) for the Phillies since Lefty won 15 straight in 1972.

John Jr. continued his torrid hitting.  He’s a former No. 1 selection (Seattle, 2002) who may be one of those late-bloomers.  That’s the same path Jayson Werth took.

KK goes to the mound today as the Phillies seek a sweep.  Fans began lining up at 8:30 this morning for the standing room tickets.

Phil-Ins
Phillies are 26-9 against LH starters, best record in the NL; they’ve now won their last nine . . . Thursday is a day off, leaving the Phillies with one more day off, Sept. 15 . . . Weekend series with the Marlins starts Friday night . . . The Phillies have only one other weekend series at home this season, Sept. 16-18, vs. St. Louis.

Season Ends
Five weeks from today the regular season ends.  Only races still alive are the AL Central and NL West.

If the season were to end today, the Phillies would host the Diamondbacks and the Braves would travel to Milwaukee in the NLDS. The Brewers are baseball’s hottest team right now.  Phillies have to keep working for the home field advantage in the NLDS and NLCS.  Because the NL won the All-Star Game, that league has the advantage in the World Series.

Cliff Dominates Again

Obviously this team has a lot of outstanding characteristics.  One that may often be overlooked is resiliency.  Or, as Paul—The Pope—Owens used to call it, bouncability.

They can lose a tough game and bounce right back the next day or night.  After a long, tough weekend in DC, the Phillies returned home on Monday night.  The offense exploded and Cliff was dominating once again.  So, Lee beat Gee.

Great headline on the back page of this morning’s Daily News, “Gee+Lee=Glee.

It is strange how the turning of a calendar month can affect numbers.  Cliff was 2-2, 4.18 ERA in April; 2-3, 3.78 in May; 5-0, 0.21 in June; 1-2, 4.91 in July and is now 4-0, 0.58 in August.
From Elias Sports Bureau: The Phillies defeated the Mets 10-0 on Monday night, after they trounced their division rivals from New York by an 11-0 score on April 7 of this year. It’s the first time since 1979 that the Phillies won two shutouts by a double-digit margin in the same season. That year they blanked the Dodgers (11-0) and the Cubs (13-0). But it’s the first time in more than a century that the Phillies had two shutout wins, each by 10-or-more runs, against the same team. In 1910, they beat the Boston Braves 12-0 in June and then 13-0 in September.
The Phillies also whitewashed the Mets 10-0 on May 1, 2010. The only other major-league team since 1970 with three shutout wins by 10-or-more runs against the same team in a two-season span was the Diamondbacks, over the Padres, from 2001 to 2002.
Charitable Jim
Jim Thome, in honor of his 600th home run, has donated $60,000.00 to charities of the teams he’s played for….$10,000 each to the Indians, Phillies, White Sox and Dodgers and $20,000 to the Twins.  Classy move from a classy person.

Taylor/Wise Puzzle
Following Alumni weekend, I posted a blog about being behind the scenes with the Alumni and included a story about Rick Wise being in the clubhouse when Gene Mauch tossed the post-game food tables.  Several of you posted comments and correctly pointed out it wasn’t 1964 as I had written.
Have spoken with Tony but can’t make contact with Rick to get further clarification.  Tony recalls Rick was there in 1963, called up from Bakersfield but did not pitch at all in that final month.
So here are the facts:  September 22, 1963, Joe Morgan got his first major league hit, a walk-off single in the last of the ninth at the Astrodome giving Houston a 2-1 win.  According to a clipping from the San Francisco Chronicle, “Houston is well known for the vast spread it puts out for the players after each game and Mauch worked his way through the entire meal from chicken and spareribs to cantaloupe and watermelon.”
Reached the next day, Mauch had a terse response, “What happens in my clubhouse is no one else’s business.”
Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley lost, 2-0, at Indianapolis to fall 1 game behind Pawtucket . . . RHS J. C. Ramirez (9-13) ended a personal 4-game losing streak as Reading won, 7-3, at New Britain . . . Clearwater was not scheduled . . . Lakewood beat Delmarva, 4-2; 2B Carlos Alonso has reached base 35 times in last 17 games (22 hits, 13 walks) . . . Williamsport won for the 5th time in the last 6 games, 2-1, over Jamestown to move to within 1 game of first place . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies won their 3rd straight, 6-5, over the Yankees, tying the game with 3 in the last of the 9th on home runs by LF Brian Pointer and 3B Trey Ford and winning in the 10th on a walk-off single by SS Gustavo Gonzalez.

Honors
Reading 3B Carlos Rivero is the MiLB.com Player of the Week in the Eastern League (.370, 4 homers) . . . RHS Julio Rodriguez won MiLB.com Pitcher other Week honors in the Florida State League (9 strikeouts, 7 scoreless innings).

 

 

Lost Leads

All season long, the Phillies bullpen had three blown saves.  In dropping two of three in DC this weekend, the pen added three more blown saves.  The series loss on the road was the first for the Phillies since June 17-19 in Seattle.

Thanks to Phillies fans, Nationals Park was transformed into Citizens Bank Park south this weekend but the Nationals won two games in walk-off fashion giving them 19 for the season.

Phillies lone win was an impressive outing by Roy-O on Saturday, the team’s ninth shutout on the road.

For the last six games, the Phillies went 3-3.  In all three losses, they had the lead in the ninth inning.  Guess that’s baseball.

During the last week, the Phillies also had three rain delays, a total of 5 hours and 50 minutes of sitting around.  That messed up the pitching staff.  Again, that’s baseball.

Following Sunday’s loss, an Amtrak charter train brought the Phillies back home.  Six games this week, three each with the Mets and Marlins, start on Monday night.  Phillies are 31-19 against the NL East.

Mixed Review
RH reliever Michael Schwimer, a native of Alexandria, VA, made his debut in front of family and friends (65 tickets) and came away with mixed reviews. The second pitch he threw was a home run which tied the game. Then, he was one pitch away from his first win but Bastardo gave up a game-tying solo homer in the last of the ninth, the first blown save for the lefty.

Schwimer worked 3 innings, allowed that one run, while striking out four.  His longest outing at Lehigh Valley was 3.1 innings at Scranton back on May 17.

Schwimer is the third player selected by the Phillies in the 2008 draft on the staff.  He was a 14th round selection; Vance Worley, third round and Michael Stutes, 11th round.  Good scouting.

Eye in the Sky
The broadcast booths at Nationals Park are located at the top of the stadium behind home plate.  Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen often comment about the difficulty in broadcasting from such a high perch. They also had a couple of good lines this weekend:

**On Saturday, a helicopter was approaching Nationals Park and Scott reported, “we’re having a fly under.”

**During Sunday’s thunderstorms, LA reported, “the lightning is below us.”

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley lost two of three this weekend but remained in a tie for first; no decision on Sunday for RHS David Bush, 2 runs, 5 innings; LF Domonic Brown is in a 5-41 spin . . . Reading is in 2nd place, 4 games behind following a 3-game sweep of Altoona; 3B Carlos Rivero had a 17-game hitting streak end on Saturday and hit his third homer of the week on Sunday (15 for season) . . . Clearwater won two of three in Lakeland; Threshers are in third place, 3.5 games out of first . . . Lakewood was 1-1 plus a Sunday postponement against Greensboro; BlueClaws are in 4th, four out . . . Williamsport’s four-game winning streak ended Sunday; Crosscutters are in second place, 1.5 games out . . . Two more weeks of the regular season remain for these 5 clubs . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies’ season ends on Saturday; they are in 5th place, 11 out.

 

 

 

John Jr. Providing Power

With Shane, Ryan and Chooch out of the lineup, the bench players came through for the second straight game as the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks on a soggy Thursday night to take yet another series.

During their last 16 series, the Phillies are 14-1-1. 

Wilson again came through with a run-scoring double and John Jr., playing for the suspended Shane, unloaded a two-run homer.  Meanwhile, five different pitchers held Arizona to one run on three hits.

Vance was lifted after a 2:27 rain delay.  In his last 11 starts, the Phils are 11-0.

John Jr. has hit seven homers since returning from AAA on July 5, second on the club to Ryan’s nine.  Of John Jr.’s last 27 hits, 18 are extra-base hits (10 doubles, eight homers).

Rain delays on get-away days means arriving in the next city in the wee hours of the morning.  It wasn’t too bad for the Phillies who had an Amtrak charter train to DC; Arizona had to fly to Atlanta.

Shane was out of uniform serving the first of a two-game suspension.  During the rain delay he visited Ruben Amaro’s box behind home plate on the Press Box level   “Gee, the game looks easy from up here,” he laughed. “Where’s Ruben?  Want to agitate him.” Later we heard reports he visited the Executive Dining Room kitchen and helped himself to some ice cream.

Following a weekend in DC, where there are sure to be thousands of Phillies fans, the Phillies return home for three with the Mets and Marlins next week.  Then they became a traveling team, playing 20 of their last 31 games in enemy territories. 

Phil-Ins
In rubber games of a series this season, the Phillies are 10-5 . . . They finished 23-9 against the west division, the most wins since 23 in 1995 . . . With Pence in the lineup, Phils are 14-3.

Alumni Views
“What changes would you like to see in baseball” was a question posed to Phillies Alumni.  Here’s another view:
Darren Daulton, (C, 1983; 1985-97)
“The DH can stay. Have someone upstairs with access to replays on TV to overrule a missed call. It should only take a few seconds and would eliminate a lot of needless arguing which takes more time. All everyone wants is the correct call. I like the wildcard. Obviously when one division is loaded with good teams some teams are going to feel slighted when they have a much better record than other division winners. Best-of-five is fine. At that time of the year, the players are really exhausted and want to play as least amount of games as possible. Fans obviously would love to see more.”

Down On the Farm
OF Brandon Moss (#22), C Erik Kratz and DH Jack Cust homered as Lehigh Valley coasted, 11-1, over Rochester . . . C Tuffy Gosewisch hit his 11th homer and drove in 3 as Reading beat Portland, 8-3 . . . RH Jonathan Pettibone (9-10) ended a personal 3-game losing streak as Clearwater snapped a 5-game losing streak, 6-1, over Dunedin; win pulled the Threshers to within 2.5 games of first place . . . Just promoted from Gulf Coast League, INF Drew Hillman hit his 1st pro homer in Lakewood’s 6-2 win against Greensboro. LH Jesse Biddle (6-8) was the winner, lowering his ERA to 1.91 since the All-Star Game; his 121 strikeouts are second in the SAL to teammate Garet Claypool’s 137 . . . RH Perci Garner fanned 6 in 4.1 innings as Williamsport beat Tri-City, 3-1, to move into second place . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies lost at Tigers.

Bench Comes Through

Over the course of the long marathon called a baseball season, it takes contributions from all 25 players and a minor league system.  Those on the bench are needed.

Take Wednesday night’s Phillies win.  Five of the eight RBI came from John Jr., Wilson, Brian and Ben.  Brian has been behind the plate 26 times and the Phillies have won 23, including his last 15 starts. 

Cliff was a pillar again, his fourth straight win during which he has a 1.71 ERA.  At the start of the season, everyone knew he, Doc, Roy-O and Joe were the aces.

One of seven pitchers to come up during the season from Lehigh Valley was Vance, who is on the mound in the series finale Thursday.  No telling where the Phillies would be without him. 

The seventh LV hurler is Michael Schwimer, a 6-foot-8 right-handed reliever, who was called up Wednesday.  The Phillies head for Washington, DC, after Thursday’s game aboard an Amtrak charter train.  Michael grew up in Alexandria, VA, so the weekend series will be a homecoming for him.  He’ll probably need a lot of tickets.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley won, 3-1, over Rochester behind a solid start by LH Ryan Edell (5-4), 1 run, 5 hits, 7 innings.  OF Brandon Moss hit his 21st home run.  He’s driven in 6 runs in 3 games this week.  LH Joe Savery picked up his 1st save. IronPigs are in second, 1 game out . . . Reading lost twice to Portland, 5-4 and 5-3.  3B Carlos Rivero homered in each game and has gone deep in 3 straight games (#12-13-14) . . . Clearwater was pasted by Dunedin, 10-1.  RH Trevor May (9-7) fanned 11 in 6 innings while taking the loss . . . Lakewood edged Delmarva, 5-4; 1B Jim Murphy had 2 RBI, 73 for the season . . . Williamsport was a 3-1 winner over Tri-City; 3B Harold Martinez hit his 2nd home run, LH Lino Martinez improved to 6-2; CF Kyrell Hudson was 3-3 with his 20th stolen base . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies were rained out for the 6th time in the last 11 days.

Alumni Views
“What changes would you like to see in baseball” was a question posed to Phillies Alumni.  Here’s another view:

George Culver, (RHP, 1973-74; minor league pitching instructor, manager, pitching coordinator, 1981-98)
“Would like to see the DH eliminated, it’s taken the athlete out of pitchers. Most of your great old pitchers from the 50′s and 60′s and back could swing the bat and bunt. Bob Gibson would even steal a base on you. Instant replay would be a good idea as long as it doesn’t slow the game down. Definitely for foul balls and home runs the fans interfere with. More wildcard teams would extend the season too long and some undeserving team could get lucky and win. The teams that play the best over the long haul deserve it.”

Doc Rarity

Lyle Overbay was released by the Pirates last week, was washing his car at home last Friday, signed by the Diamondbacks and made his first start last night against Doc, a teammate in Toronto.

Lyle’s two-run double in the top of the ninth ended Arizona’s seven-game losing streak at Citizens Bank Park and gave the Diamondbacks their NL-high 35th comeback win.  Doc entered the ninth inning having throw 96 pitches and ended up at 123.  As he said after the game, two of those ninth-inning pitches were mistakes (location) and it cost him. 

For Doc, it dropped his record to 35-4 when he had a lead in a Phillies game. It was his second loss at home this season. 

From Elias Sports Bureau:
**It was the first loss of his career in which he was pitching with a lead in the ninth inning.
**It snapped a streak of 10 straight wins at home.
**It was his 13th complete gave loss over the last five seasons; no other pitcher has even half that number.

Doc even chipped in with two hits, including his first-ever extra base hit.  Leading 2-1, he doubled to start the seventh.  He didn’t score and it came back to haunt the Phillies.

Harry Statue
The late Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas is one of the most beloved characters in Philadelphia Sports History.  His soothing voice came into our homes for more than 38 summers describing the exploits of his favorite team, the men he called the “Fightin Phils.” Upon his passing in 20009, many fans felt the same sense of grief as if they had lost a family member.

Prior to last night’s game, ceremonies welcomed the fifth bronze statue at Citizens Bank Park.

Fans packed the area behind Section 141, lined three long ramps, filled the second deck of Harry the K’s and were looking down from the upper deck to see the ceremony.  Dear Harry, Inc., a group that was formed to fund the statue, beamed like little kids and deservedly so.  Their dream came to life during the 15-minute ceremony which climaxed with Steve Carlton and Jimmy Rollins unveiling the 7.5-foot statue.

Sculptor Larry Nowlan did a great job.  Larry sculpted a 2008 World Series ring on Harry’s right hand, which is holding a microphone and leaning on a Richie Ashburn model bat.  Harry’s trademark white shoes were naturally bronze.

During the game, Harry’s youngest son, Kane, sang “God Bless America” and Take Me Out To The Ballgame”.  He was wearing white shoes.

Taylor-Wise Puzzle
Still working on the details from Monday’s blog which got people’s attention.  Unable to reach Rick as he’s been traveling back home.

Down On The Minors
David Bush made his Lehigh Valley debut an impressive one, 0 runs, 3 hits, 6 innings as the IronPigs beat Rochester 5-2 . . . Riding home runs from LF Brett Clevlen, 3B Carlos Rivero and C Tuffy Gosewisch, Reading defeated Portland, 7-5 . . . Clearwater dropped a 4-2 decision to Dunedin . . . Lakewood won twice over Delmarva; 2-1, 7-inning complete game for RH Lisalverto Bonilla (3-4) and 5-3, LF Bill Rice extended his hitting streak to 9 games (,515); hitting .396 since joining the BlueClaws on July 16 . . . Williamsport is on a two-day All-Star Game break; OF Aaron Altherr, OF Kyrell Hudson, RHS Michael Nesseth and RHR Gabriel Arias were named to the NL squad . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies were rained out for the fifth time in the last week

D-Backs; Alumni Comments

If the season ended today, the Diamondbacks and Phillies would meet in one of the NL Division Series, which is 47 days away.

With 19 wins since the All-Star Game break, the Diamondbacks have overtaken the Giants in the NL West.  Last time they led this late in the season: 9/5/08.

Some Arizona facts:
**Lead the NL in extra base hits.
**Lead the NL with 33 comeback wins.
**Only NL team without a loss after 8 innings (65-0).  Phillies are next, 65-1.

Phillies and Diamondbacks met toward the end of April in Phoenix.  The D-Backs won 4-0 (Kennedy over Lee), 7-5 (Halladay’s first loss) with the Phillies winning the finale, 8-4.

At Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have a 15-7 edge, wining the last seven.

Comparing Numbers
Hitting: Phillies .252; AZ .250
Runs: AZ 556; Phils 528
ERA; Phils 3.09; SAZ 4.02
Runs allowed: Phils 391; AZ 529
Runs differential: Phils 137; AZ 27
Home record: Phils 42-19; AZ 334-16
Road record: Phils 36-22; AZ 32-27

Phil-Ins
Wednesday night’s game will be on ESPN . . . On this date a year ago, Phillies were 66-51, second place, 2 games behind Atlanta.  Braves play Giants now and D-Backs next.

Signings
Before Monday’s midnight deadline, the Phillies signed the following draft picks from this summer: OF Larry Greene (pick 1A), SS Roman Quinn (2nd round), SS Mitch Walding (5th round), RHP Jesen Therrien (17th round), LHP Braden Shull (27th round), and OF Jonathan Knight (49th round). Phillies signed 30 of the 50 players they selected.

Taylor-Wise Puzzle
Appreciate all the comments from Monday’s post.   Will investigate the facts, something that I probably should have done in the first place.  Hopefully, I will have some answers on Wednesday.

In response to one of the comments—why doesn’t Bowa come to Alumni events?  For years Larry was coaching and couldn’t be here.  He was planning on attending Friday’s Wall of Fame induction but he works for the MLB Network and he was sent to an assignment in Chicago.

Congratulations Jim
Awesome that Jim Thome got to 600 home runs on Monday night, hitting a pair in Detroit.  Only seven others have ever done that, which opens the question: is Jim a Hall of Famer?

Hard to believe it was eight years ago that we signed him.  Time flies too quickly.

Of those 600, 96 came in a Phillies uniform, including #400 at Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

A class person is now in an elite class.

Alumni Weekend Memories

Having been around ballplayers for six decades, I shouldn’t be surprised at the memories they have from their playing careers.  More on that later but first a re-cap of Alumni Weekend.

Thursday’s sold-out alumni luncheon for seniors was a grand slam.  Covered that in Friday’s post.

Krukker delivered a tremendous acceptance speech during Friday night’s Wall of Fame induction ceremonies.  He left no doubt he has a love affair for Philadelphia and the fans returned that with their passionate cheering.  It was goose-bump city.

Thought we could make him cry by having his young son and daughter present his miniature copy of the WOF plaque.  Instead, his eyes were filled with pride and joy.  We always end the ceremonies with a victory lap and that is really cool, seeing the sections of fans arise as the vehicle approaches their area. 

Saturday was Alumni Night, a chance for some 45 ex-Phillies to be introduced on the field.  Rain somewhat curtailed the ceremonies but it still went well.  Alphabetically, from Amaro to Wine, a real connection with the 1964 team.  Three no-hit pitchers and three Hall of Famers.  Not many clubs can match that.

Sunday, heavy rain washed out everything.  The Kalas statue ceremonies will now take place at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday night before the game with Arizona.  Some of the Alumni and most of the Kalas family won’t be there, but Kane Kalas and his step-sister and step-brother will be there.

The statue was installed following Saturday night’s game.  We had a tent ordered Friday in case of rain and had it installed Sunday morning, in case there was a break in the weather.  There was no break.  So, we invited the Kalas family (brother Jim and his wife, Mary; sons Todd and Brad, all of whom will not be there on Tuesday) to the park to see the statue. Sculptor Larry Nowlan explained his thinking and then unveiled the bronze statue. The smiles on Harry’s family faces said enough.  Numerous family photos were taken with the 7.5-foot statue. It was cool.

Sunday was also a day in which we had planned numerous Alumni surprises for the fans.  So, we’ll store that idea until next year.  Sorry, a surprise is a secret.

Memories, oh, yes. 

As Alumni mingled each of the three days, they reminisced about their careers.  It is an amazing how ballplayers can remember a pitch from 10-20 years ago.  Bunning can give a game-by-game run down of the fateful 10-game losing streak that robbed fans of a pennant in 1964.  Bunning remembered a hanging slider that Willie Stargell hit into the upper deck exit runway at Veterans Stadium.  “I think it finally landed in New Jersey,” he laughed.

Tony Taylor and Rick Wise were teammates and laughed about the time Gene Mauch upset all the food tables after a rookie, Joe Morgan, beat the Phillies in extra innings inHouston.  “I was a rookie and I was hungry,” recalled Wise.  “All of a sudden, here comes Gene and he’s hot, ‘Joe bleeping Morgan.’  He looked at me and said, ‘get out of here’ and then flipped the tables.”  Tony couldn’t stop laughing.

Mitch talked about the pitch he threw to Joe Carter that ended the 1993 World Series.  “As soon as I let it go, I knew the consequences,” admitted Mitch.  Kruk jumped in, “Then why did you throw it?”  Everybody broke up.

Alumni from different eras clustered together.  After all they had bonded during their years in a Phillies uniform.  They lived together for 6-7 months and went to war each game.  It creates a bond that lasts a lifetime.

Luzinski, Schmidt, Boone, Bystrom and their manager, Dallas, were at one table.  The wives are still letting Dallas know their unhappiness at not being allowed to travel with the team to Houston during the 1980 playoffs.  Yes, they were there, at their own expense.

Next night, Green, Wine and Amaro Sr. were re-living old times.  Dallas and Bobby played for Buffalo in the minors in 1959 and they were trying to recall the starting lineup. There was a tall outfielder, big bonus guy, from Texas in right field.  They knew everything about the mystery right fielder but his name. They looked my way, “Baron, who was the guy?”  Well in 1959 I was 21 years old and in college.  Yes somehow, the name came to me, Mickey Harrington.

Then, there was Freddy Schmidt, not a household Schmidt name for Phillies fans.  A right-handed pitcher, he was 5-8 with the Phillies in 1947 and at age 95, is our third oldest Alumni.  He needs a cane and wheelchair to get around but his mind is as sharp as a tack. To make it easy for him to get to the field, we brought him on the field in a golf cart and gave him a victory lap.  More goose-bumps.

Freddy talked about his days with the Cardinals (he proudly wears his 1944 World Series ring when he was a rookie in St. Louis) and May 3, 1947, trade to the Phillies.  The Phillies also received CF Harry Walker in the deal for OF Ron Northey.  Walker hit .363 and became the Phillies first batting champion since Chuck Klein in 1933.

Freddy saw Jackie Robinson break into the big leagues and heard the racist abuse directed at him. “Ben Chapman, a southern gent, was our manager and he was nasty, not only to Jackie, but he was just plain nasty.”

Freddy lives in Wind Gap, PA, and is a huge fan of the current team.  “I don’t miss a game on TV,” he boasted.  “But those west coast games are a challenge.

“What I don’t understand is why they have a pitching coach.  With that pitching staff, why do you need a coach?” he laughed.

When introduced to Ruben Amaro, Jr., Freddy said, “Getting Pence is your best move.  He’s perfect for this team.”

Alumni Weekend is a long-time Phillies tradition.  Fans love the weekend..  The Alumni really love getting together, no matter if it is Mike Schmidt or Freddy Schmidt.

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