Alumni Luncheon Review
Having been around baseball players for years…make that decades…it shouldn’t surprise me with the recall these guys have of teammates, game situations including exact pitch counts, flights, bus rides. They are great story tellers.
A sold out third annual Alumni Luncheon for Seniors Thursday noon was treated to stories by Bobby Wine, Kent Tekulve, Mike Lieberthal, Kevin Stocker, Bill Giles and Tim McCarver. Space doesn’t permit going into detail of their remarks but here’s a glimpse.
First question for Wine, “What happened in 1964?” In case you have been living on mars for the last 50 years, the Phillies collapsed down the stretch that year and lost the pennant. “A lot of people blame Gene (Mauch),” started Wine. “All year we did the right thing, fundamentals, defense, pitch and then we hit a 10-game stretch where everything went wrong. People blame Gene for using Bunning and Short too often but other pitchers were hurt.”
Tekulve was in the Pirates bullpen during the 1970s when the Phillies and Bucs battled. “Coming out of the left field bullpen at the Vet, I heard everything, mostly boos,” he said. “When I was traded to the Phillies in 1985, I wondered how I would be received. I got traded on a Friday and was in the bullpen the next day and I was called into the game. I kind of opened the bullpen door very slowly, waiting for the worst to happen. Instead I got a standing ovation, which was one of the most gratifying moments of my career.”
Lieby spoke about how excited he is to be heading into the Wall of Fame on Friday night. “I was a skinny kid about 155 pounds when I was drafted. I remember going to the minor league camp the next year and it seemed as if everybody looked at me, ‘Who’s this skinny kid. He was our first pick?’ The media wrote about it too. That helped motivate me and I wound up playing 13 years here and I’ve very grateful. To be on the wall with all the great Phillies names is special. I’ve got my speech ready.”
Stocker spoke about his first pro team and first big league game. “I was signed in the middle of the season and was told to report to Spartanburg, SC. Being from the state of Washington, I had no idea where Spartanburg was. I got there and sat on the bench for seven days. The first game I’m sitting there and looking at this skinny kid on the bench. He’s a catcher? He hit four ropes that game but two were caught. After the outs, he came back on the bench and started cursing. You could tell he was a competitor. Remember that Lieby? When I came up to the Phillies in 1993 they were in the middle of a pennant race. Lenny led off the first inning and scored. I’m in the runway behind the dugout trying to calm my nerves. Lenny comes down and sits on a stool and started spitting out that tobacco juice. I’m just looking. He reaches back and grabs a fresh chew and then he lights up a cigarette. I’m like, they smoke in the big leagues? He looks up at me and says, ‘Welcome to the big leagues kid.’”
Giles was asked about the arrival of the Phanatic, wallenda and kiteman. He had everyone in stitches. “The second person we had for kiteman came out and looked at the Vet. I asked him to practice. He said, ‘If I’m going to kill myself I want more people there than just you.’”
When McCarver was winding down his long playing career, Giles asked Timmy if he had any interest in a broadcasting career. As it turns out, he did and started that part of his life with Harry, Richie, Andy and Wheels in 1980. In September of that year, he did put on the uniform at the end of the season and played in one game, making him the first catcher to play in four decades. “Bill mentioned it and Dallas (Green) said he was OK with it. So I’m in the dugout and Pete Rose doubles. I said to Dallas, ‘Let me run for Pete.’ Pete never left a game and I thought I could go down as the only pinch-runner he ever had. It didn’t happen but I did get to bat once and doubled in my last at-bat. When I got to second base, I tipped my cap to my broadcasting partners in the press box.”
Before the luncheon, the former players were in a conference room autographing photos for the fans. Wine and McCarver played against each other in the minor leagues. They tried to remember Wine’s teammates on the 1959 Buffalo team. Bring up the name of a former teammate, Wine, Timmy and Tekulve would have a story.
McCarver is a great story-teller and usually ends it with an infectious laugh. “We’re in the 1964 World Series…thank you Bobby…and Bob Uecker is shagging in the outfield during batting practice. A band beyond the left field wall at Yankee Stadium stopped playing. Uecker went there and took the big tuba. He then tried to catch fly balls with this tuba. There must have been 8-10 dents in it. In November, we get our World Series checks, something like $8,100. Uecker’s check had a deduction for $165….damaged tuba.”
Plans call for the Alumni Luncheon to be made into a 30-minute show for Comcast’s In Demand library. Don’t miss it.
Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley lost to Buffalo, 10-1. RH Austin Hyatt, on his return to AAA from AA, was tagged for 7 runs in 3 innings. 2B Cesar Hernandez, 1-3, including a double.
Reading beat Trenton, 4-1, behind an impressive AA debut by LH Adam Morgan, 0 runs, 1 hit, 7 innings, 6 strikeouts. The hit was a lead-off double in the second inning. 3 hits each for 3B Cody Asche and 1B Darin Ruf.
Clearwater lost to Tampa, 10-0, allowing a 9-run eighth inning. RF Anthony Hewitt, 2-4. Tim Kennelly, a catcher, is being converted to a pitcher. He tossed 1 scoreless inning behind loser LH Mario Hollands (3-1), 3 runs, 5 innings. Threshers have dropped 6 in a row.
Lakewood won its third straight, 2-1, over Kannapolis. 2B Alejandro Villalobos’ 2-run double was the game-winner for RH Gabrial Arias (4-3), 1 run, 6 innings. Third save for RH Zach Cooper. BlueClaws are a game out in the second half.
Williamsport stretched its winning streak to 3 with a 7-3 decision at Jamestown. 2 hits each for CF Kyle Hoppy and 3B Tyler Greene.
Gulf Coast League Phillies bowed, 5-2, to the Yankees in Tampa. RF Andrew Pullin, 3 hits including sixth double and third streal.
Alumni News, Notes and Photo
Available at www.phillies.com/alumni.