Author Archive

Celebrating Mr. Fregosi’s Life

They came from all parts of the country to celebrate the life of the late Jim Fregosi yesterday at Bright House Field. “They” were former players, former teammates and fellow scouts.

Mr. Fregosi’s widow, five children and four grandchildren were on hand for a pre-game tribute and a post-game, invitation-only party for the baseball community. That party, held under a large tent on the half-field, totaled over 300.

Among Mr. Fregosi’s teammates were Buck Rodgers (California), Bobby Knoop (Arizona), Clyde Wright (California) and Lee Thomas (Orioles scout). Close to 40 scouts also came to Clearwater, more than a normal game.

Phillies Alumni included Darren Daulton, Kent Tekulve, John Kruk, Randy Ready, Milt Thompson, Dave Cash, Robert Person, Lee Elia, Mike Lavalliere, Don Robinson, Dave Hollins, Darold Knowles, John Morris, Dave LaPoint and Greg Luzinski. Ready traveled came from California.

Camp Notes
Brad Lidge is in uniform as a guest instructor for eight days, working with the relievers . . . Split squad headed for Lakeland to play the Tigers today; Ryno was on the 8:45 a.m. bus . . . Bowa is managing the Phillies against the Yankees at Bright House Field . . . Weather forecast is calling for 90% change of rain and thunderstorms . . . Trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Friday and back home Sunday to face the Astros split squad . . . 58 players still in camp with the first cut coming soon . . . Saturday is the first-ever Alumni Day in spring training.

Spring Training Memories
Chris Coste (C, 2006-2009)
“1999, Pirates minor league spring training camp in Bradenton, FL. Don’t remember my uniform number. I’m sure it was a high number. Pirate City had dormitories and that’s where we lived. My roommate was from the Dominican and he spoke no English. I was constantly nervous because I didn’t know the daily routine. A first I was unsure if I was good enough to be at that level but after throwing to bases and taking batting practice, I quickly realized that I belonged. For the first time baseball felt like a way of life and for me, that was a good thing. I didn’t like being treated like a child. With so many players in camp, they ran it like a boot camp and it was odd for me because I was much older than most of the players who were at my level.”

Opening Day Countdown
25 is the magic number as we count down the days to the season opener in Texas.

OF Tony Gonzalez and OF Del Unser share for the most years wearing that number, 10. Remember Jerry Martin and more recently, David Bell and Jim Thome? Cody Asche currently is #25.

Special Birthday

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.

Camp Notes
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)

Lone Home Night Game

With a night game today, players got a chance to sleep in. Reporting time is 3 o’clock for the game against Toronto. Game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet and mlb.com. It was also taped and will be shown on the Baseball Network at midnight.

Tomorrow, the Braves visit Clearwater with a tribute to the late Jim Fregosi taking place at 1 and the game to follow. Comcast SportsNet will carry the tribute live. Players need to be dressed by 8 a.m. for a meeting with the Baseball Assistance Team. They take the field at 10 for the usual pre-game routine.

Lots of radio for the day starting with WIP at 5:30 a.m. (live from Lenny’s Restaurant), St. Petersburg’s WDAE at 9 a.m., WUSL from Selinsgrove, PA, doing a game broadcast and ESPN Deportes on the air from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

Alumni Note
Belated congratulations to Rice University baseball coach Wayne Graham who posted his 1,000 win on Valentine’s Day.

Graham, 77, was an infielder originally signed by the Phillies in 1957. He played briefly in 1963, was traded to the Mets in a deal for Frank Thomas and then came back to the Phillies organization in a deal involving Dick Stuart going to New York. His career included part of one season for both the Phillies and Mets and 11 in the minors.

Dallas Green was a teammate in 1963. He sent a letter of congrats, noting they have several things in common, including white hair.

Spring Training Memories
Bob Boone (C, 1972-81)
“First spring training was a big league camp at Jack Russell Stadium in 1970. I don’t have a clue as to my uniform number but I do know it wasn’t 8. Stayed at the Jack Tar Hotel. Barry Lersch was my roommate but I roomed with his clothing more often than with him. I’ll never forget that first day. Frank Lucchesi (manager) said every job in camp is wide open. I came from Class A ball but really thought I had a chance after hearing Frank. Rookies get to play in a lot of the early games and I crushed the ball, hit .400. When he first cut was made, I was on the list, headed for the complex. I was crushed.”

Opening Day Countdown
27. Yep, that many days until the Phillies begin their 131st season, this time on the road against the Texas Rangers.

The leader board: Placido Polanco and Ken Heintzelman, six seasons each; Jack Baldschun and Willie Montanez, five; tied with four, Lonnie Smith, Kent Tekulve, Bobby Estalella and Chris Coste. Currently, Roberto Hernandez.

Remebering Mr. Fregosi

FregosiTable12071
The late Jim Fregosi always sat in the same seat in the Media Room at Bright House Field when he was scouting for the Braves. In memory of Mr. Fregosi, the Phillies are keeping the table and one chair empty until Thursday.

Braves and Phillies will pay tribute to Mr. Fregosi on Wednesday. Festivities begin at 1 with the game to start at 1:20 p.m. Comcast SportsNet will carry the emotional program live. Atlanta is playing at Bright House Field on Wednesday and suggested a tribute be held here with Mr. Fregosi’s widow Joni and their three children living in nearby Tarpon Springs. His other children, Jim Jr. and his family, and Jennifer Pickler and her daughter, are flying in from California.

Camp Notes
Phillies play their only night game in Clearwater tomorrow, 6:35 (Blue Jays) . . . Before the game, the communications department has set a photo shoot with the broadcasters . . . Tanaka is scheduled to pitch Thursday when the Yankees come to Clearwater. Phillies will have a split squad going to Lakeland the same day to face the Tigers.

Alumni Everywhere
Darren Daulton and Pedro Feliz attended Friday’s game . . . Sarge is back in uniform as a guest instructor . . . Bob Walk and Nick Levya came with the Pirates on Sunday . . . Quite a few Alumni will attend Wednesday’s tribute to Mr. Fregosi.

First-ever Alumni Day is scheduled for this Saturday. More on that in a day or two. Tickets are available.

Birthday Week
Today: RHP Bobby Locke (80), RHP Bobby Munoz (46) . . . Tomorrow: OF Lee Tinsley (45) . . . Wednesday: RHP Steve Ontiveros (53), RHP Doug Bird (64), RHP Kent Tekulve (67), INF Al Monchak (97) . . . Thursday: RHP Terry Adams (41), INF Cookie Rojas (75) . . . Friday: CH Galen Cisco (78) . . . Saturday: 1B Dick Allen (72) . . . Sunday: C Benito Santiago (49), LHP Terry Mulholland (51).

Opening Day Countdown
28 days until the Phillies and Rangers open the season in Texas.

This number was worn by Curt Simmons for 12 seasons (1948-50; 52-60). He was followed by Art Mahaffey, six seasons (1960-65). Two have worn it for four seasons, Tyler Green and Jayson Werth. Not to be overlooked are INF Roy Hughes (1939-40) and P Tommy Hughes (1941; 1946-47. They are not related. Wearing it since 2012 is Kevin Fransden.

10 Years Ago
Tomorrow, Phillies defeated New York Yankees, 5-1, in first game played at Bright House Network Field before 8,205, a Clearwater record. CF Marlon Byrd got 1st hit; SS Jimmy Rollins, 1st home run.

You’ll find other March moments in Phillies history by visiting http://www.phillies.com/alumni

A. J. Today

First of four games this spring against the Pirates on tap this afternoon at Bright House Field. A. J. makes first start today

Tomorrow, 8:15 a.m. bus for trip south to Port Charlotte and the only spring match-up against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hard to believe the Rays don’t visit Clearwater this year.

8:15 a.m. may appear to be early but pity the minor leaguers. Photo day is tomorrow morning, 6:30 start. Flash bulbs would be needed to get my eyes to open at that hour. Even earlier is the WIP morning show that will be live from the dark Tiki Bar starting at 5:30 a.m. this week.

With the Phillies out of town tomorrow, the minor leaguers will continue their daily 10 a.m. drills at Carpenter Field. Parking is free at the complex when the Phillies aren’t home.

Opening Day Countdown
We’re down to 29 more days for the Phillies first game at the Texas Rangers.

The longest-tenured player to wear this number was Stan Lopata, 10 years (1949-58). Others with multiple years, Grant Jackson, six (1965-70) and four each, John Kruk (1991-94), Wendell Magee (1996-99) and Marlon Byrd (2002-5). Hall of Famer Chuck Klein wore seven different numbers with the Phillies including #29 for three seasons (1940-42). When Jimmy Rollins came up in 2000, he was #29. Currently, Cameron Rupp.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Courtesy broadandpattison.com:
1946–The Phillies open spring training in Miami beach with a scrimmage in Flamingo Park. It will be the last year they train somewhere other than Clearwater.

Countdown Continues

moyerstairsJamie Moyer (left) and Matt Stairs, the new kids on the block, will be back on Phillies telecasts tomorrow, Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday. When’s the last time Stairs was in the lineup three straight games?

Opening Day Countdown
30 days before the Phillies season opener in Texas against the AL West Rangers.

Who wore the uniform the longest for the Phillies? Steve Jeltz, six years (1984-89). Blix Donnelly is second, five years (1946-50) and then Dave Cash, three years (1974-76). Darrell Brandon switched from 32 to 30 after Steve Carlton arrived (1972). Justin DeFratus switched from 79 last season to 30 for this year.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Courtesy of broadandpattison.com:
1889–The Phillies set sail from New York for their spring training site in Jacksonville, FL, becoming the first National League team to train in the Sunshine State.

Comment Corner
Karl came through again yesterday, wanting to know if Garry Maddox is in the Phillies Wall of Fame.

Yep, Garry was inducted in 2001. He returns ever year for the Wall of Fame ceremonies.

So Long February

First seven spring games alternate between Clearwater and the road. Today at home, tomorrow in Tampa, Sunday back home, at Port Charlotte on Monday and home again on Tuesday, which, by the way, is a 6:35 p.m. game. Today, we say good-bye to an 0-2 February.

Phillies TV trio will work today and Sunday. Jamie always worked on a four-day rotation.

Useless Information
The Yankees’ Tanaka, the rather expensive pitcher from Japan, makes his American debut against the Phillies tomorrow. Well, seven years ago, the Phillies were the first American team Matsuzaka, another high-priced Japanese pitcher, faced. That was the Red Sox at Bright House Field. Something like 65 Japanese media covered that game.

Comment Corner
Karl posted a couple of comments yesterday, pointing out a mathematical error when I wrote Jack Russell Stadium opened in 1955 with a win and closed 59 years later with a loss to the Yankees. JRS’s last spring training game was 2003, which is 48 years later. Bad calculator or bad fingers or both.

His other comment was about Chuck Klein once wearing #32. The Hall of Famer wore six other numbers while with the Phillies, 1, 3, 8, 26, 29 and 36. So Chuck was part of three retired uniform numbers.

Opening Day Countdown
31 more days and the Phillies season begins, this year in Arlington, TX, against the Rangers.

Garry Maddox holds the record for the most years wearing this number, 12. Gary Wagner is next, five seasons. Among others are Danny Litwhiler (1942) Ken Brett (1973) and Randy Ready (1994-95). Most recent, Erik Kratz (2011-12-13). Currently, Brad Lincoln.

Spring Training Fun Fact
According to broadandpattison.com, the Phillies opened spring training in Southern Pines, NC, on this date in 1913. Is there a Northern Pines, NC?

Short Trip

Bulletin board in the clubhouse is full of information for the players.

There’s a roster of all players in camp. Those whose names are circled mean they are on today’s trip to Dunedin, a three-mile journey. That’s the shortest trip in spring training anywhere.

Also posted: 8:30 a.m. reporting time today, infield practice at 10, batting practice at 10:15 and two busses leave at 11:30. Those not on the travel roster have the afternoon off.

Game will be on the Major League Baseball Network and mlb.com.

Old Home Week
Yesterday’s Grapefruit League opener at Bright House Field was filled with ex-Phillies.

Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu were both in the line-up that faced J. A. Happ. Chris Coste threw out the first ball and Scott Rolen journeyed north from Bradenton for BP. Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs were in the booth for their first telecast. Former coach Billy DeMars was also a morning visitor.

With the Phillies opening the season in Texas and facing a right-hander, Abreu could well be the DH as he was yesterday. Last time he started a game was July 25, 2012, while with the Dodgers. He has a clause in his contract if he isn’t on a major league roster on March 26, he can become a free agent.

Tall Tug
New “Peek at the Past” photo on http://www.phillies.com/alumni features Lefty, Tug and Jerry Koosman 30 years ago in spring training. Tug must have stood on a box or something because he’s taller than the other two even though he was 6-foot even. Check it out.

Opening Day Countdown
32 days till Phillies season opener in Texas against the Rangers.

There’s only one #32 of significance in Phillies history, Hall of Famer Steve Carlton who wore it for 15 Phillies seasons. Number was retired in 1989. Last to wear it before Lefty, Darrell Brandon (1971). Among interesting names who have worn it include
Chuck Klein (1936), Curt Simmons (1947) and Richie Allen (1963; spring training 1964).

Spring Training Fun Fact
The Phillies won the first game at Jack Russell Stadium in 1955 over the Tigers and lost the last game there to the Yankees 59 years later. They also won the first game at Bright House Field in 2004, beating he Yankees.

1st Game

Marlon Byrd talks with teammates during workouts Friday in Clearwater.Ten years ago Bright House Networks Field opened, a new era in Phillies spring training baseball.

Wearing #29, Marlon Byrd (above) led off for the Phillies that day and played centerfield. He got the first hit in the new yard and scored the first run. The previous spring he hit the last triple in Jack Russell Memorial Stadium.

Now 10 years later, he’s back in a Phillies uniform, playing right field and batting fifth, wearing #2.

New Broadcasting Era
For the first time since 1962, Richie Ashburn, Harry Kalas or Chris Wheeler are not part ay

Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs, the new voices, make their debut today, the start of a new era in Phillies broadcasting. Every Clearwater game will be televised, giving the new faces a chance to have broadcasting spring training.

“Wheels” continues to be the PA announcer at Bright House Field. He’s been doing that in Clearwater since 1972. He’s also doing video features on phillies.com, The Wheelhouse. His piece last week with Larry Bowa was a classic.

Opening Day Countdown
33 days until the Phillies opener at the Rangers.

Cliff Lee is wearing that number now. Others who have worn it include Bo Belinsky, Wayne Twitchell, Ruben Amaro Jr., Aaron Rowand, Granny Hamner (1948) and Pat Burrell (2000). Plus an oddity, two right-handed pitchers, one named Mike Jackson and other, Michael Jackson.

Elsewhere
WPHT’s Dom Giordano is broadcasting live from the Tiki Bar tomorrow and Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon . . . 170 minor leaguers report to Carpenter Complex tomorrow. First workout is Saturday. Nearly 50 kids have been working out on their own for weeks at the complex . . . Four of that 50 are pitchers who were assigned to the bullpen today, Brody Colvin, Justin Friend, Jay Johnson and Mike Nesseth . . . Scouting of amateur players is underway. Some members of the player development staff have been spending time following Phillies scouts. Charlie Manuel will do some scouting in Florida this month. Pat Gillick has spent times going to high school and college games. Pat is a super scout. Dallas Green, Dick Allen and I, along with our wives, had dinner last night at the Beachcomber restaurant. Pat knew what each ordered. When asked how he knew that, he just laughed.

Spring Training Fun Facts
Larry Bowa has been a minor league player, major league player, coach, manager and coach again during Phillies spring training camps. His first big league camp was 1967. He wore #53.

Play Ball!

Kevin Frandsen dives for a ball Friday in Clearwater.

Yet, another photographic gem from Phillies photographer, Miles Kennedy. Kevin Fransden, a hard-nosed back-up infielder, goes all out in practice. Don’t see that very often.

Camp Notes
Squad game at Bright House Field at 12 noon today . . . Jimmy Rollins is taping a Mizuno commercial on the half-field . . . All the Phillies broadcasters are in camp and will meet with Ryno following the game, a chance for the broadcasters to get briefed on the players and the manager’s philosophy . . . First Grapefruit League game is tomorrow afternoon, visiting Blue Jays at 1 (radio, television, mlb.com). 70% chance of rain is forecast . . . Chris Coste, the new baseball coach at Concordia (MN) College, will throw out the first ball, along with Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos . . . Annual meeting with the Major League Baseball Players Association will be held in the clubhouse beginning 8:30 in the morning.

Opening Day Countdown
34 more says until the Phillies open the season in Texas, against the Rangers.

So, who are the most notable Phillies to wear that number? Paul Byrd, Barry Lersch, Tom Underwood, Gary Matthews, Kevin Millwood, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. Best of the group? Easy, Doc, author of two no-hitters, first pitcher in Phillies history to have a pair. Just think, three no-hitters were tossed by a Phillie wearing this number: Doc’s two and Millwood’s, the last no-hitter in Veterans Stadium. A.J. Burnett is currently wearing #34.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Chase Utley wore #80 in his first spring training camp at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium in 2000.

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