A very special birthday today to former Phillies infielder Alex (Al) Monchak who is celebrating #97.
Monchak is the oldest of eight nonagenarian Phillies Alumni. Among all former players, only catcher Mike Sandlock (98) and pitcher Connie Marrero (102) are older.
His big league career as a player was a short one, 19 games (.143) with the Phillies in 1940. During World War II, Al served in the army for three years, 1943-45. While his playing career was short, he coached in the majors for 17 seasons with the White Sox, A’s, Pirates and Braves. He owns a World Series ring (Pirates in 1979).
Speaking of birthday cakes order one for Kent Tekulve today, 67. “Teke” is a former teammate of the late Jim Fregosi with the Pirates and is part of today’s pre-game tribute to Jim. Teke will also be at Bright House Field on Saturday for the first ever Phillies Alumni Day in spring training. He’s spending time in the Pirates camp in Bradenton this spring.
Offense certainly has been off to a sputtering start, .194 team average . . . Tomorrow, regular game and split squad. The Yankees come to Clearwater with Tanaka starting. A Phillies split squad will leave for Lakeland at 8:45 to play the Tigers who will start Verlander . . . Phillies minor leaguers continue daily drills at Carpenter Complex. They will begin playing games against other minor leaguers on March 11.
Opening Day Countdown
26 more days until the first pitch of the regular season, this year in Texas against the Rangers.
There’s little doubt which player is most identified with #26, Chase Utley who is in his 12th straight season of wearing the number. Gene Garber held the longevity mark before Chase, five seasons starting in 1974 with Jeff Stone one season behind. It should be noted that Hall of Famer Chuck Klein wore #26 when he came back to the Phillies in 1939 and again in 1944 when he was a player-coach, .143 in his last four games.
Spring Training Fun Fact
Rheal Cormier was the pitcher of record when the Phillies won their final game at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (3/26/2003). He held the same distinction with the last Phillies win at Veterans Stadium (9/27/2003) and the first at Citizens Bank Park (4/15/2004)