Baseball’s annual meetings convene Sunday in Nashville and end on the following Thursday.
The 2,881-room Opryland Hotel will host nearly 1,000 executives from the minor leagues, manager leagues and media. The Phillies delegation will total 34. Then, toss in executives from their minor league teams.
The Opryland Hotel is massive. It seems to be as large as the entire sports complex in south Philadelphia. Heck, the spa and fitness center alone is 20,000 square-feet. There are 757 garden view rooms that overlook nine acres of indoor gardens. Christmas decorations are everywhere.
Been there several times for winter meetings. It usually took at least two days to figure out how to go from my room to the GM suite to the media center.
Two visits stick out the most, one pleasant and one embarrassing.
In 1983, I was given the highest honor a PR person could achieve, the annual Robert O. Fishel Award. Voted by your peers, the Award was started in 1981.
Embarrassing? All GM suites were on the same floor of a certain wing. While walking down the hall looking for Ed Wade’s suite, there was a door open and I saw Jim Fregosi setting there. Still thinking he was our manager, I walked in the room and sat down. Only trouble, I was in the Braves’ suite and accused of being a spy.
Generally, the host hotel has a large lobby which is filled with media, baseball executives and more media. The Opryland Hotel has multiple lobbies.
The week includes minor league and major league meetings. Meetings on the major league end range from PR to trainers to doctors to traveling secretaries. The big news of course comes from trades and free agent signings.
Agents love the winter meetings. It is one-stop shopping. A guy like Scott Boras will walk into a lobby and whoosh, he’s surrounded by media. Agents love the attention.
On Monday noon, there is a huge Awards Luncheon in which numerous awards are presented on the minor league level.
From the Phillies minor league system:
**Baseball America will present the Lehigh Valley club with the Bob Freitas Award in recognition for long-term excellence in the operation of a Minor League franchise (in their first year of eligibility). **From the Reading staff, Scott Hunsicker, Eastern League Executive of the Year and Dan Douglas, Class AA Sports Turf Manager of the Year. **From Clearwater, Opie Cheek, Florida State League Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the 9th consecutive year and also the national winner for the Class A Sports Turf Manager of the Year. **Darin Ruf will accept the Joe Bauman Home Run Award at the luncheon for the most regular season home runs in 2012.
The meetings end with the annual Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.
Baseball’s Hot Stove will heat up starting on Sunday. Look for a lot of news coming out of Nashville. Will there be a new Phillies center fielder?
Or, a mixture of miscellaneous things:
Work will soon be completed on a new, 21,000-square foot facility at Carpenter Field.
East of the clubhouse was a structure that contained four indoor batting tunnels. That’s gone. In its place is a building that will house six indoor batting tunnels with climate control, a large gym, video room, and offices for athletic trainers and conditioning coaches.
With the new addition, the Phillies have the finest spring training setup in Floirda.
When the Phillies began spring training in Clearwater in 1947, they had one facility, a tiny clubhouse at Athletic Field. Heat was provided by a pot-belly stove. Players roomed together at the West Coast Hotel. Wives and cars were not permitted.
World Baseball Classic
USA manager Joe Torre has included two Phillies Alumnus on his coaching staff, Larry Bowa (bench) and Dale Murphy (first base).
Hall of Fame ballots are being distributed this week to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Announcement of the 2013 inductee(s) will be made in early January.
With Barry Bonds, Roger Clemons and Mark McGwire on the ballot it will be a very interesting election process.
New Reading Name
The Reading Phillies are no longer in existence, in name that is. The Reading club is now known as the Fightin’ Phils. Harry Kalas used to refer to the Phillies as the “Fightins’.” He would like the new name.
Personally, surprised that Pretzels wasn’t chosen.
More Free Agents
Friday is the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to players. One can expect another batch of free agents to hit the market. Deadline used to be in mid-December but it was moved up under the new basic agreement.
Phillies vs. Eagles
Since October 1, the Phillies have one win; the Eagles, zero.
Happy Birthday 26—Richie Hebner (65), Bob Walk (56), Brian Schneider (36) . . . 27—Al Raffo (71), Jimmy Rollins (34) . . . 28—Ken Howell (52), Sixto Jezcano (59) . . . 30—Shane Victorino (32)
Former Phillies scout Jimmy Stewart died on Saturday in Tampa, FL, at age 73. Condolences to his widow, Donna, and family.
Phillies Insider is taking a holiday break. Be back the week after thanksgiving.
By the way, drive carefully. There are thousands of run-away turkeys out there.
When you get a chance, check out the new Peek At The Past photo on www.phillies.com. Sure to bring a smile to your friendly face.
Baseball season may be over but that doesn’t mean it is all quiet at Citizens Bank Park.
Winterization of the park continues, turning off heat and water in certain locations, closing restrooms in the seating bowl areas and power washing concessions floor drains.
Thursday evening is the Phillies Phantasy Camp orientation in the clubhouse, batting cages and media room. Not sure if the camp commissioner, Larry Andersen, will be there because he was married last Friday night. Honeymoon at a Phantasy Camp orientation?
Ballpark tours run all offseason, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, except for holidays. For information, call 215 463-1000.
Citizens Bank Park is a perfect place to host a meeting, wedding, or whatever. Events planned this week through the Special Events department include:
**Wednesday, Barton Supply Inc. meeting in the Executive Dining Room . . . Bire Pharmaceuticals reception in the Diamond Club.
**Thursday, Children’s Scholarship Fund event in the main concourse/media room.
**Friday, Wordsworth 60th Anniversary Celebration, EDR.
**Saturday, Alzheimer’s Walk, parking lots and main concourse. Some 8,000 people are expected to participate.
**Saturday, Shade/Taylor wedding ceremony and reception, Diamond Club/Hall of Fame Club. Please be aware November 2-9-16 next year are already booked for weddings, providing someone doesn’t get cold feet.
**Sunday, breakfast with Phillie Phanatic, Diamond Club. Annually, Community Outreach receives thousands of requests for donations for charitable causes. The event was a new addition to fulfill some of the requests. Over 110 people are expected.
More information about booking Citizens Bank Park may be obtained at www.specialevents.com or by calling 215 218 5100.
Probably of the most interest to Phillies fans is the weekly conference call on Wednesday morning. Ruben, his staff and the pro scouting staff will be reviewing free agents and trade possibilities. I’ve said it before, would love to be a fly on the wall. Just afraid Ruben would have a fly swatter.
Happy Birthday to you….13—Gene Garber (65) . . . 14—Willie Hernandez (58); Curt Schilling (46) . . . 17—Mitch Williams (48); Billy McMillon (39).
Kruk’s bucket list? Find out at www.phillies.com/alumni under Alumni Views.
Kruk’s buddy, Randy Ready, was named the Braves’ AAA manager, replacing Dave Brundage, who was recently hired by the Phillies for Lehigh Valley.
On behalf of the entire Phillies organization, our deepest sympathy goes to the family of Harold Gould. A pitcher with the Philadelphia Stars in 1946-48 in the Negro Leagues, Mr. Gould died on Friday at age 88.
Mr. Gould and other Philadelphia Stars have been saluted often by the Phillies, the most recent during Jackie Robinson Day last April. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Milt Thompson became friends of Mr. Gould’s through the years.
On Friday morning (10 o’clock), a wreath will be laid in his honor at the Philadelphia Stars Memorial Park in Philadelphia. David Montgomery and Ruben will attend.
Funeral services will take place Saturday morning in Bridgeton, NJ.
Spring training will start early and run long because 2013 is the year of the World Baseball Classic.
The Phillies will play the Dominican Team on March 5 at Bright House Field. During the inaugural year of the WBC, the Phillies played Venezuela.
Chooch will be playing in the WBC qualifying tournament, Nov. 15-19, in Panama City.
Several Phillies players and some of their minor leaguers will be playing for different countries in the WBC. Announcements will be forthcoming.
Winter Ball Scouts
Phillies will be scouting the Dominican and Venezuela winter leagues. Right now, the Phillies have 22 players performing in the two leagues. Todd Zolecki has a story about some of these players on this website.
Jesse Levis, Danny Wright and Bart Braun are currently scouting in the DR while Charley Kerfeld is in Venezuela. Later, Braun and Kerfield will switch leagues.
Jamie Moyer will receive the Brooks Robinson Community Service Award at the Major League Baseball Player Alumni Association’s 13th annual Legends for Youth Banquet in New York on Tuesday. Proceeds benefit the Legends for Youth Baseball Clinic Series. Denny Doyle is the chairman of series. Phillies alumni who will attend the banquet include Jim Lonborg, Dale Murphy and Desi Relaford.
Jamie was treated to a surprise early birthday party roast in Las Vegas this past weekend. Among those who participated were Cliff Lee, Bob Boone, Chase Utley and Greg Luzinski. Moyer turns 50 on November 18.
Darold Knowles will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Kirksville, MO, next month.
David Bell has been named the third base coach for the Cubs . . . Pat Corrales named special assistant to the general manager of the Dodgers . . . Milt Thompson, bunting, outfield and baserunning coordinator for the Royals.
Gold Glove Notes
Which Phillies player was the first to win a Rawlings Gold Glove?
For the answer and a complete position-by-position breakdown, check out www.phillies.com/alumni.
Ruben Amaro and Scott Proefrock are attending the annual GM meetings this week in Palm Springs, CA . . . Marti Wolever, who heads the Phillies scouting department, is meeting this week with his scouting coordinators and regional supervisors to make plans for 2013 and also follow the Arizona Fall League . . . Gene Schall has been named the Northeast Regional supervisor and Eric Valent, the Southeast Regional supervisor . . . Phillies Gold Glover leaders: Mike Schmidt (10), Garry Maddox (8), Jimmy Rollins (4).
Johnny Callison will be inducted posthumously into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Phillies PR announcer, Dan Baker, will receive the Legacy of Excellence Award.
Sunday: SS Dick Groat (82), OF Tito Francona (79) . . . Monday, INF Putsy Caballero (85) . . . Wednesday, LHP Jim Kaat (74) . . . Thursday, RHP John Denny (60), OF Wally Westlake (92) . . . Saturday, RHP Gene Conley (82).
Groat, Conley and RHP Ron Reed are three Phillies Alumni who also played pro basketball in the NBA.
They Said It
“We’ve got the connection with (hitting coach) Johnny Narron but we don’t have the connection with U.S. Bank,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin on rumors Milwaukee will be attempt to sign free agent CF Josh Hamilton.
“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers down,” comedian Steven Wright.
MLB Record Holder
LHP Rogers McKee won his only game in 1943 and years later learned he was the youngest pitcher in modern MLB history to record a win. Read all about Rogers in Where Are They Now, www.phillies.com/alumni.