Thanks for the ride, Charlie
Charlie is no longer the Phillies manager, but he will be remembered forever.
To me, Charlie and Danny Ozark had similarities. Both weren’t popular hires, both were considered players’ managers, both were loyal to their players, both didn’t criticized players publically, both could air out players behind closed doors, both won division championships, both had long tenures that ended during disappointing seasons.
There is a difference, however. Danny won three straight division titles but couldn’t get the club to the next level, the World Series. We all know Charlie’s accomplishments. It will be a long, long time before some puts up better numbers and more championships. Hey, the only Philadelphia baseball manager to win more games than Charlie was Connie Mack, who managed the Philadelphia A’s for 50 years.
With the addition of Pete Rose in 1979, a World Series appearance was expected. Instead the team stumbled and finished fourth and Danny didn’t finish the season. Dallas Green came down from the front office in late August and guided the Phillies to their first World Championship the next season.
It was time for Danny, a very nice person, to go. Things became stagnant with an older club. It has been my experience once a manager is around for six or more seasons, their methods, their voices no longer seem to matter. It isn’t the fault of the manager or the players, it just happens. Gene Mauch and Jim Fregosi went through the same thing.
And, now Charlie joins the list. High expectations with a veteran team went down the tube since the All-Star Game. Every season under Charlie, the Phillies excelled in the second half. Not this year. Offensively, the Phillies have struggled all season. Charlie takes pride in knowing and teaching hitting. Something wasn’t clicking anymore.
The end was coming and Ruben felt now was the time. Surprised? Yes. Shocked? No. Once a GM makes a decision, then a change is needed. It would have been worse for Charlie to hang around the rest of the season. There is no ideal time to change managers or an easy way to do it. But, life and the game continue.
When Charlie was hired, fans and media were rough on him…he didn’t know how to manage, he was “good old Charlie”, a guy who stumbled over words and got mixed up with his comments.
Slowly, everyone began to realize Charlie knew baseball. He had a lot of qualities I’ve never seen among the 17-some managers I rubbed elbows with. Most amazing to me was that he never panicked and was always positive. That’s damn hard during a 162-game season.
Some day, he will be honored by the Phillies and fans will get to express their appreciation for a person who attained the status of a rock star.
We were privileged to be around this humble man. Thanks for the ride, Charlie.