Who would you pick to start a team? Did anyone pick Mike Schmidt? Who was his choice?
Check out Alumni views at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
Eight rookies will wrap up four days of the Phillies annual Prospect Educational Program on Friday.
OF Aaron Altherr, LHP Jesse Biddle, RHP David Buchanan, OF Leandro Castro, OF
Kelly Dugan, 3B Maikel Franco, RHP Ken Giles and RHP Kevin Munson will all be in Clearwater in early February after spending this week at Citizens Bank Park.
Well, they weren’t at CBP on Wednesday as they toured the MLB Network studios in northern New Jersey. They returned in time to work out in the indoor batting cages, a daily routine, before attending the Sixers game.
Today was devoted to media training. Ben Porritt, a media relations expert, oversaw the training and was joined by Leslie Gudel, Ken Rosenthal, Jim Salisbury, Chris Wheeler and the communications staff. The last item on the agenda is an interview session with Philadelphia media.
Others who were part of the four-day program included Joe Jordan, Mike Ondo, Frank Coppenbarger, Rob Holiday, Michael Barkann, Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, Susan Ingersoll-Papaneri, Dave Buck, Ruben Amaro Jr., Scott Sheridan, Shawn Fcasni and Ryne Sandberg. I’m invited to speak Friday morning about the history of the Phillies and our Alumni Relations program.
The young prospects got a small taste of big league life. Once in Clearwater, they’ll continue their climb to the top and uniform and locker in the clubhouse. That’s their dream.
Spring training officially begins on February 13 when pitchers and catchers take to the fields at Carpenter Field.
Already there are Kyle Kendrick, Domonic Brown, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and Phillippee Aumont with Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Pettibone and Justin DeFratus expected this week. Others may also get an early start.
New pitching coach Bob McClure is checking in this week to get acclimated with some of the pitchers and the staff.
Tons of equipment will make the 1,100 mile trip from Citizens Bank Park to Clearwater starting on February 6. Look for a big media sendoff.
For the first time, Phillie Phanatic will be spending the entire spring performing at Grapefruit League games at Bright House Field. Hey, the Phanatic got chunky over the winter and is a little rusty.
Tim McCarver, who retired last fall after broadcasting 27 World Series on a national basis, is returning to local TV by working 30 games with the Cardinals . . . Jeff Manto is the new minor league hitting coordinator for the Orioles . . . Todd Pratt is the new president of the Sunbelt Summer League in Georgia after being a manager in the league for the past five seasons . . . Rob Ducey is back in the game as a coach for the Phillies’ Reading club. He had been a scout for the Blue Jays before being out of the game for a couple of years.
13—INF Mike Buskey (65)
14—INF Derrell Thomas (63)
15—RHP Wayne Gomes (41)
17—C Tyler Houston (43), LHP Jeff Tabaka (50), 2B Denny Doyle (70)
18—C Mike Lieberthal (42), INF Billy Grabarkewitz (68), CH Chuck Cottier (78)
This blog ranked 18th among the top 100 blogs in the MLB.com Pro Blog category for 2013. That’s the good news.
The not so good news, it dropped from 15th a year ago.
Being among the top 20 every year is neat but the credit goes to you for checking out the blog. Thanks.
There’s a debate as to whether players accused of being on performance enhancing drugs should be enshrined into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
Well, let’s recognize them away from the HOF. How about a large syringe monument made out of brick and a steel needle. Those who quality for the HOF will have their names etched on the bricks. No ceremonies.
Found the right town for the monument: Truth Or Consequences in New Mexico. Yep, that’s the name of the town that is the county seat for Sierra County. Runners up are Disappointing, KY and Why, AZ.
Yesterday we learned another chapter in Phillies broadcasting history closed with the announcement that Chris Wheeler and Gary—Sarge—Matthews would not return on the team’s telecasts starting this season. The new 25-year agreement with Comcast SportsNet includes the right for the cable company to make a change in the booth.
“Wheels” has been on the air for the Phillies since 1977, a total of 37 seasons.
He’s right in the middle of two Phillies broadcasting legends, friends with whom he shared booth time, Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn. Harry was on the air for 38+ seasons, Whitey, 34. By Saam broadcast baseball in Philadelphia for 38 seasons, but some of them were with the Philadelphia Athletics. Harry, Whitey and Wheels stand alone for lengthy careers with the Phillies. That’s pretty impressive.
As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark pointed out, the last time the Phillies had a game without Whitey, Harry or Wheels in the booth was 1962.
I figured—actually a calculator did the math—that Wheels was on the air for over 6,000 games, counting the postseason and spring training. That’s a lot of ballgames.
Throughout his career, Wheels has been blessed with good health. Aside from being off the air because of FOX or ESPN national telecasts, Wheels guesses he missed about 10 games in 37 seasons. Iron Man legend Cal Ripken Jr. missed more.
In case you aren’t aware, Wheels started his Phillies career on July 5, 1971, in the PR department. He and I were teammates. With his broadcasting background he was a perfect fit for dealing with radio and TV. With my print background, I was more a-tuned to newspapers. Since neither of us tweets, I don’t know where we stand in today’s social media.
How did he land the booth? Glad you asked.
September 26, 1976, the Phillies were in Montreal’s Jarry Parc on a cold, damp Sunday afternoon for a doubleheader. One win and we are the Eastern Division champions, finally erasing the bitter pill from 1964. Wheels was with the team as the traveling PR rep. We clinched with a first-game win. In the fifth inning of the second game, Wheels walked into the booth. Whitey left, saying “You always wanted to do this, so go ahead.” A new career was launched.
Wheels never played pro baseball but was a student of the game. On charter flights he’d sit with Bobby Wine, Larry Bowa and John Vukovich, coaches who knew the game inside-out. He was constantly picking their brain. He’d get to spring training early every year and not miss a workout, observing and learning. For years, he did a pre-game radio show with the manager. In other words, he was the benefactor of a lot of baseball professors.
Wheels is also a talented writer. But he had no feel for punctuation. When writing copy for radio or TV, there is no need for commas, hyphens or quotation marks. Or, capital and lower case letters.
He did author a terrific book recently, View From The Booth (Camino Books). Here’s a secret, someone else did the punctuation. Otherwise, it would have been a 219-page sentence. If you haven’t read it (the book, not the sentence), add it to your bucket list.
A kid from Marple-Newtown High School and Penn State wound up living his dream, broadcasting Phillies games.
Spring Training Tickets
Sale starts today. Easiest method is http://www.phillies.com/spring.
Once again, Wheels will be the PA announcer at Bright House Field, something he started years ago at Jack Russell Stadium. As Whitey once said, “Wheels, they keep moving you around until they find something you can do.”
Sarge will also be in Clearwater and both will be around in new roles with the Phillies.
This week, we can sing “Happy Birthday” to the following Phillies Alumni:
6—Marlon Anderson (40), Ruben Amaro Sr. (78), Jose DeJesus (49).
7—Jim Lefebvre (72), Ray Semproch (83), Al Dark (92).
8—Shane Turner (51), Randy Ready (54).
9—Ivan DeJesus (61).
10—Jim Lindeman (52).
11—Ben Rivera (46), Donn Pall (52).
And, a very special Happy Birthday to Lester John Shenk, my dad and “Gramps” to his six grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Dad turned 98 on the 7th.
Single Game Leaders
Who holds the Phillies record for most triples in a game? The number is 3. The answer can be found on http://www.phillies.com/alumni. Wonder if Wheels knows the answer.
As the new year begins, there’s a new look to http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
The first vintage photo of this year is a mirror image of Veterans Stadium from a year ago. It is a classic.
The first new feature is a look at the anniversary moments, ranging from 10 years ago to as long go as 120 years. Check it out.
More new features will be coming this week.
This Month’s Calendar
Phillies are sending Cody Asche, Ethan Martin, Cameron Rupp and Maikel Franco to t he Major League Baseball Rookie Program which runs from January 9-12.
Attending the club’s Prospect Development program, January 14-17 at Citizens Bank Park, are Franco, Kelly Dugan, Aaron Altherr, David Buchanan, Jesse Biddle, Leandro Castro and Kenny Giles.
Ryne Sandberg will be in town for 10 days starting on the 17th. He’ll be participating in several PR functions.
Phillies personnel will be appearing at banquets in Williamsport (20), Reading (21), Lakewood (22) , Lehigh Valley (23) and Philadelphia Sportswriters Banquet (27). Mickey Morandini is appearing at the Kennett Square Old-Timers Banquet (18).
J-Roll is being honored at the BAT (Baseball Assistance Team) banquet in New York (21).
Tomorrow, we’ll find out who is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The 2014 ballot contains 36 players (19 new names and 17 returnees). Candidates who receive 75 percent of the votes are in.
Three former manageres have already been chosen for the HOF. Last year was a shutout at Cooperstown. This year could be a classic crop.
Hall of Fame voting used to be confidential. Now, writers are bragging on how they voted and why. Tweets are everywhere. Shouldn’t writers write the news and not create it? Do they reveal their votes for the President of the US? Perhaps I’m getting grumpy.
Happy New Year.
Before we close the book on 2013, congratulations to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark who authored an interesting and entertaining story, Strange But True feats from 2013. Jayson’s a master at these type of stories.
Here’s an excerpt from the story that was first posted on ESPN.com on the last day of last year. It relates to the Phillies. To totally appreciate Jayson’s work of art, you need to read the entire classic marathon story.
“In a season in which 12 games went 16 innings or longer, you’d have to look long and hard to find a nuttier baseball game than the 7-hour, 6-minute, 18-inning epic staged by the Diamondbacks and Phillies on Aug. 24 (the fourth-longest game, in time, in major league history). Among the Strangest But Truest developments:
“The well-traveled Casper Wells, capable of achieving what few people imagined was possible. He went 0-for-7 at the plate. And up gave five runs on the mound, in two-thirds of an inning. And even wound up as the losing “pitcher.”
“Strangest But Truest claims to fame? First, that he saw 42 pitches as a hitter — and threw 40 pitches as a pitcher. Second, as SI.com’s Joe Sheehan observed, he drove in one run all season — but gave up five in 10 minutes. And finally, as legendary ESPN Kernel collector Doug Kern reported, Wells became the first man to go 0-for-7 as a hitter and give up five runs as a pitcher in the same game since Chalmer (Lum) Harris did it on Sept. 14, 1942. Except Harris needed to twirl a 16-inning complete game to pull it off.
“Because Wells couldn’t even throw a complete inning, let alone a complete game, he also contributed to yet another historic event. The Phillies had to haul in infielder John McDonald to relieve him in the top of the 18th. So it made them the first team to pitch two position players in the same inning since David Martinez and Junior Noboa did it for the Expos on July 20, 1990.
“But that little plot twist didn’t work out so well for Diamondbacks catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who was creative enough to make outs against both Wells and McDonald in the same inning. The last known human to do that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: Brian Milner, on June 26, 1978.
“Finally, here’s your Strange But True Fun With Numbers note of the day: The game started at 7:06 – and lasted for 7:06.”
There’s an eraser board on the left wall as you enter the Phillies clubhouse. It is where the lineup for the game is posted early in the afternoon. The chore normally belongs to the bench coach.
Right now the clubhouse is decorated for the holidays, lights, trees, snowmen and even an electric train.
The lineup board even has a holiday flavor:
Question has been raised: Will Doc Halladay be added to the Phillies Wall of Fame?
Well, the WOF eligibility rules stipulate a player has to have played five years with the Phillies. Doc wound up with four. (Managers and coaches need four or more years service). Then, in 2005 we added two more stipulations, position players needed to play in a minimum of 700 games; pitchers, minimum of 180. Idea was to make sure we had quality candidates.
Should we make an exception? Will it open the famous can of worms? Should the number of years be reduced to four or three? Should the games played be changed or dropped? Who else then qualifies if the rules are changed? Should general managers an club presidents be considered?
Borrowing one of Paul Owens’ favorite sayings, we’ll “mull it over.”
Yes, exceptions have been made since we started the WOF in 1978. The exceptions related to another rule that a player needs to be retired for three years before being considered. But, never the number of years in a Phillies uniform.
Exceptions have included Steve Carlton (1989), Mike Schmidt (1990), John Vukovich (2007) and Harry Kalas (2009). Lefty and Michael Jack were inducted the year after they retired. Vuk and Harry the K were inducted posthumously without waiting three years.
To Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre for being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Next announcement relates to players and that will occur on January 9. Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine appear to be shoo-ins. This past July, the inductions included only deceased people. 2014 will be a huge weekend in Cooperstown.
To Curt Schilling, who is taking the place of Orel Hershiser on the ESPN Sunday Night telecast team. Schill joins John Kruk and Dan Schulman. Poor Dan.
To Lori and Scott Franzke who became parents of twin girls on December 6, Loretta and June. Son Gus and Scott are now out-numbered in the Franzke household.
Ryne Sandberg will leave the winter meetings in Orlando later today for Philadelphia.
He’ll take part in some of the Phillies Week of Giving Events next week. He’ll also be meeting with his coaching staff for a couple of days next week before heading for his Arizona home for the holidays. Ryne will be back east for a couple of weeks in January.
Want a warm thought? Pitchers and catchers first workout is February 13.
Recognizing the end is here is admirable and very difficult for athletes who are fierce competitors. Roy Halladay is one of the great competitors who dominated the game from 2002 through 2011. Citing back issues, he officially retired yesterday as a member of the Blue Jays, which is fitting.
Congratulations on a great career, Doc.
Equally important, thanks for all the thrills you gave Phillies fans in your four years in pinstripes.
A World Series isn’t part of his resume. Other greats have experienced the same, including Jim Bunning. Jim’s a Hall of Famer and someday Doc will get there. There’s no higher honor than to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Thanks to the Phillies communications department, here are a bunch of tributes to Doc:
“Roy was the most prepared, ferociously competitive pitcher I’ve ever been around and was the epitome of professionalism. How he conversed with people and treated his teammates was something I really admired about him. He did it all. He and Jamie Moyer are the most demanding pitchers I’ve ever had. They wanted to get better every time out and if you look at Roy’s numbers, having played in the AL East all those years, winning two Cy Youngs, pitching a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter, he should absolutely get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame.” Rich Dubee
“I know it must have been hard for Roy to make this decision to retire because I know how much he loved to play the game. Roy was, without a doubt, one of the greatest competitors I ever had the pleasure of being around.” Charlie Manuel
“Roy was a great player and a very special friend. To have caught both his perfect game and playoff no-hitter is something I will remember for the rest of my life. I wish him and his family all the best in retirement.” Carlos Ruiz
“He was one of the best competitors who ever played this game and taught everyone around him to prepare the right way in order to be the best. For me, personally, he helped me understand the game more and gave me insight on how to become a top of the line starting pitcher.” Cole Hamels
“Roy was probably the best influence in my career. Being able to spend the last four years with him taught me what work ethic and commitment are all about. In my eyes, the game just lost the best pitcher of the last 10 years.” Kyle Kendrick
“Roy Halladay is the ultimate competitor. He is by far the hardest worker that I’ve ever seen and treated every game as if it were his last. It was no coincidence why he was the best pitcher of his era. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to watch him pitch for four years. I’ll miss his presence and passion but, most of all, I will miss his intensity.” Chase Utley
“Roy was one of the best. There are no shortcuts to greatness; Roy understood that, and that’s why he never took any. “I wish I could’ve gotten him that ring he desired. That’s my only regret while having him on my team.” Jimmy Rollins
“It’s been an honor playing along side Roy Halladay. His tenacity, attention to detail, and preparation was second to none. He is one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever played with. We will definitely miss him, as will the game of baseball.” Ryan Howard
“Roy Halladay is one the most dominant, consistent professional pitchers I’ve ever had the privilege of playing with. He was a great teammate, but an even better father, friend and role model. He is one of those guys who is determined and driven to be great at whatever he does. I wish him and his family all the best.” Raúl Ibañez
“Roy was one of the best pitchers and students of the game I’ve ever had the honor of playing with. Hands down, he was the best pitcher of this era and a first ballot Hall of Famer.” Roy Oswalt
“I’m very sad to see Roy retire but very happy to have been his teammate. He was a special player, and it was my great fortune to be able and watch him pitch. Hopefully he enjoys retirement.” Jamie Moyer
Then from the social media world of twitter:
“I want to congratulate Roy Halladay on a great career! Blessed to have played with such a fierce competitor and one of the best teammates.” Shane Victorino
“Congrats to Roy Halladay on an unbelievable career! It was an honor to be in the same dugout as you!” Cameron Rupp
“The great Roy Halladay retires. I am honored that in my one plate appearance against him, I scared him into walking me.” Doug Glanville
“It was an honor to play with Doc. Hardest worker I have ever seen. One of the best! It was a privilege to be on the same team as him. #34.” Jake Diekman
“What an honor it was to be in the same rotation as Halladay. Huge mentor for me in my rookie season and even harder worker. Will be missed.” Jonathan Pettibone
“I’m honored to be the very last out Roy Halladay got– 8,247 went down before me. Congrats to him on such an outstanding career.” Ed Lucas, Marlins first baseman.
The record shows that Lucas fouled out in the first inning in Marlins Park on September 25, Doc’s final start of the season. Doc’s last win came against the same Marlins, September 17, 6-4, at Citizens Bank Park, 1 run in 6 innings, allowing 4 hits.
Many assumed they might be the final two starts for the Phillies. Little did we know.
203 wins, 105 losses, 3.38 ERA. 2 Cy Youngs. 2 no-hitters including a perfect game. Cooperstown numbers.
In the spirit of the holiday season, we’ve asked some Phillies Alumni two questions:
What is your favorite holiday song and favorite toy as a child?
White Christmas by the Temptations
Baseball and glove, and basketball
Hockey game and electric football set
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree
Lionel electric train set
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Eagles plastic football helmet, white with green eagle wing; old school cool
O Holy Night
Roy Rogers bicycle
Robot Commando; it was 2-3 feet tall, moved its arms and shot missiles
My favorite toy was a dart gun. It would shoot little suction cup darts that would stick to the wall or the tv, but wouldn’t stick to my little brother
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth
Army fort and soldiers set
The Christmas Song
Intellivision. The game system that competed with Atari back then
Hot Wheels toy cars and race track
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
The video game pong when it first came out. It was black and white on the television set but I thought that was cool to play. Bad thing is all the aunts and uncles hogged the game and the kids hardly got to play on Christmas day
Frosty The Snowman
Millennium falcon star wars ship
Electric train set.
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Chicago Bears football helmet and uniform
Toy trucks, dump trucks…..any kind of trucks
O Holy Night
BB gun…long, long time ago
All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
I remember one year I got the game Battleship and thought it was the coolest thing in the world
White Christmas by Bing Crosby
Roy Rogers cap gun and holster set. Many bad guys bit the dust with this lethal weapon in my hand
Little Drummer Boy
Table top NHL Hockey game and electronic football game
O Come All Ye Faithful
Fanner 50 cap gun
O Holy Night
Scouts are a very unheralded but important component of a successful baseball program. They spend hours following kids and are expected to project how they will perform when they become men. Not exactly a precise science.
Allen Lewis, a base-stealing outfielder from Panama who spent parts of six seasons in the majors and another seven in the minors, is the Phillies scout who gets credit for finding Carlos Ruiz. Came across Lewis’ December 3, 1998 scouting report:
“Good athlete and good ability. Does his job in a very quiet way. Should develop into a good hitter. Should improve with games under his belt. Has all the basics you look for but needs a lot of work. Outstanding kid and a hard worker.”
Believe Lewis captured Chooch perfectly.
He’s developed into a quality catcher and clutch hitter and will be behind the plate again for the Phillies after signing a three-year contract last week. His ability to handle a pitching staff, both veterans and youngsters, is so vital. Bringing in another catcher would have created a major learning project, especially with the addition of a new pitching coach. Chooch knows his pitchers and can help a youngster like Miguel Gonzalez.
Catching 110 games this season will put Chooch at 900 on the Phillies all-time list. He’ll be behind Jack Clements (953 games), Darren Daulton (965), Bob Boone (1,095), Red Dooin (1,124) and Mike Lieberthal (1,139). Of that group, Clements has the highest lifetime batting average (.289), followed by Lieby (.275) and Chooch (.274). It is difficult to gauge Clements’ career numbers because he played from 1884-1897. We do know he is the only left-handed throwing catcher in Phillies history.
Boone, Daulton and Lieby are the only catchers in the Phillies Wall of Fame. Someday, Chooch will be the fourth. After all, he’s the only catcher in Phillies history to be behind the plate for two no-hitters.
With Brian McCann bolting for the Yankees, Chooch is the premier catcher in the National League East now. McCann was a Phillie killer who loved to hit in Citizens Bank Park. We won’t miss seeing him.
The Phillies faced multiple needs this offseason. Two needs have been filled in Marlon Byrd and Chooch, a pair of right-handed bats.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING….Gobble till ya’ wobble!