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!
Seven years ago the Phillies drafted a pair of multi-sport high school athletes. Taking different roads, each is now a budding star in Philadelphia.
Say hello to Riley Cooper and Domonic Brown.
In the 15th round, they selected Cooper, an outfielder out of Clearwater Catholic High School, not far from Bright House Field. Cooper opted to play football and baseball at the University of Florida. The Texas Rangers drafted him in the 25th round of the 2009 baseball draft and he initially agreed to terms with the American League club before having a change of heart and returning to the Gators. He’s now excelling as a wide receiver for the Eagles, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL draft.
Five rounds after they chose Cooper, the Phillies selected Brown. Ironically, he too, played the same sports. He was a wide receiver at Redan High School in Stone Mountain, GA, and had planned on continuing his football career at the University of Miami. Unlike Cooper, he chose baseball, getting a $200,000 signing bonus.
30 years ago, RHP John Denny became the ace of the Phillies who made it to the world Series. Denny went 13-1 after the All-Star Game to finish with 19 wins, the most in the National League. At the end of the season, he won the Cy Young Award. When we had a press conference to commemorate John winning the award, we had him pose with one of Lefty’s awards. Instructions for Denny: hold your fingers over Lefty’s name for the photo op. Don’t blame me for the tomfoolery. Vince Nauss, assistant PR director then, gets the credit.
Check out the photo and list of Phillies major award winners at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
60 years ago, a young core of the Whiz Kids could only muster a third-place finish despite being in the prime of their careers. You’ll find the story of the 1953 team in the continuing series of Phillies seasons that ends in a 3.
70 years ago Saturday (November 23), the Carpenter family of Wilmington, DE, purchased the Phillies. That story will be posted in the Alumni webpage later today.
Shopping season for the holidays is underway. Once upon a time, that season didn’t start until after Thanksgiving but times have changed.
If you are looking for a special gift for a special person, here’s a list of books relating to the Phillies. Happy shopping.
The Mouth That Roared by Dallas Green and Alan Maimon; foreword by Jayson Stark; Triumph Books; also available in kindle.
Philadelphia’s Top 50 Baseball Players by Rich Westcott; foreword by Dallas Green; University of Nebraska Press.
Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium by Rich Westcott; Arcadia Publishing.
View from the Booth by Chris Wheeler; Camino Press.
This Date In Philadelphia Phillies History by Skip Clayton and Don Bostrom; Camino Press; Originally published in 1978 by Allen Lewis and Larry Shenk; Stein & Day; kindle
The Phillies Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle of the Philadelphia Phillies by Tyler Kepner; MVP Books
Game of My Life Philadelphia Phillies by Bob Gordon; Sports Publishing
More Than Beards, Bellies and Biceps by Bob Gordon, Tom Burgoyne and Larry Andersen; Sports Publishing
In The Game by Wes Chamberlain, kindle
A Way Out: Faith, Hope & the Love of the Game by Billy Wagner, Patty Rasmussen; foreword by Lance Berkman; Ampelon Publishing; also available in kindle
Baseball’s Last Great Scout: The Life of Hugh Alexander by Daniel L. Austin PhD; University of Nebraska Press
Just Tell Me I Can’t by Jamie Moyer, Larry Platt; Grand Central Publishing; also available in kindle
Marlon Byrd’s come back to his roots. The veteran outfielder who once wore #2, will be wearing #3 this time around.
The right-handed power-hitter with a .280 career average was the first major free agent signee earlier this week. It certainly has created a buzz. Todd Zolecki’s initial story drew 880 comments as of this morning. Some of comments were positive, others opposite. Fans at least care and have opinions. Some of writers too offered similar responses.
Thought it was interesting to read comments of Byrd’s last general manager:
Neal Huntingdon, Pirates
“As you look at that outfield group, if you don’t want to give up your first-round pick, Marlon Byrd is arguably the best available outfield bat. He was one of the better players on the market.”
The late Paul Owens, architect of the 1980 World Champions, used to say, “Sometimes you have to improve your club an inch at a time.”
As Ruben has said so often, we have a lot of holes to fill. Byrd filled one, leaving salary room for other moves. Last winter the Red Sox signed the likes of Shane, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, multiple unsexy signings rather than one or two major sizzlers.
It kind of reminds me of the 1993 Phillies. Danny Jackson, David West, Larry Andersen, Milt Thompson, Pete Incaviglia and Jim Eisenreich were obtained prior to spring training 20 years ago.
Byrd was our 10th round selection in 1999. When we opened Citizens Bank Park 10 years ago, he was our starting centerfielder. As the lead-off hitter, he was the first Phillie to bat, grounding out to second base. In his second at-bat (third inning) he walked and stole second, the first steal in the new park.
Now, he’s back and his bat will be in the middle of the order, an experienced right-handed bat, something we needed. Once inch down with a few more inches to go.
Connect: transitive and intransitive verb to join two or more people, things, or parts.
Say hello to social media.
Remember when the internet world came along? What a great way to connect with fans–news, photos, blogs, message boards, chats, videos, listening to and watching games on a computer. Ticket and merchandise sales boomed.
But the ever-changing world of technology has expanded, putting our daily lives in the middle of social media–twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram, tumblr, google+ and the latest, vine. Social media seems to grow faster than weeds.
For the Phillies, social media is becoming bigger and bigger. We’re among the top MLB teams when it comes to followers. Over 1.3 million follow us on facebook and that number keeps climbing.
Social media opens a new world for advertising and sales. Learned at the club’s advertising meeting last week we’ll still advertise in print, radio, TV and billboards but social media is moving along faster.
Among the new items for holiday sales is a Phillies Gift Card. Hey, gift cards are big. I now get them every birthday and Christmas. Now, fans can buy a Phillies gift card that can be used or tickets, merchandise or concessions at Citizens Bank Park.
These gift cards are available under tickets at http://www.phillies.com. Check them out. Perfect stocking stuffer.
As a kid, I became a big Phillies fan by connecting through newspapers and radio, more or less now a pair of dinosaurs. Speaking of dinosaurs, I must be one. To me, tumblr is what I use every morning for drinking orange juice. And, as a young PR person many moons ago, social media meant buying drinks and dinner for the media.
Baseball America has come out with the Phillies top 10 prospects. Here they are:
3B Maikel Franco
LHP Jesse Biddle
SS J.P. Crawford
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
SS Roman Quinn
OF Carlos Tocci
RHP Ethan Martin
2B-CF Cesar Hernandez
OF Aaron Altherr
RHP Severino Gonzalez
Altherr had a big game yesterday in the Arizona Fall League, two doubles, a single, three runs scored and a stolen base in five at-bats. He’s been slowed by a thumb injury.
Jim Salisbury reports that Quinn, 20, has ruptured his right Achillies tendon and C Tommy Joseph has been cleared (concussion) to play winter ball. He last played on July 4.
Quinn was injured running sprints near his Florida home. He’ll most likely miss most of next season. He stole 32 bases in 67 games last summer at Lakewood, a season cut short when he was hit by a pitch on June 24 and sustained a fractured bone in his left wrist.
Ruben’s just finished spending time watching the Phillies prospects in the AFL. Next week (Monday through Wednesday) he’ll be at the GM meetings in Orlando and then spending a day at the MLB owners meetings also in Orlando on Thursday.
MLB’s Industry Meetings will be in Orlando from Sunday through Wednesday. Each club will send 20-25 employees to participate in the meetings. Among the numerous departments are advertising, sales, ticketing, public relations, video, ballpark operations, promotions, fan development.
Then baseball’s annual winter meetings, which includes the minor leagues, will take place December 8-12. Where? Orlando.
70 years ago the Phillies had a bizarre year that included three ownership changes, two managerial changes and 43 double-headers during World War II when rosters were depleted by the military. You can read about the 1943 season at http://www.phillies.com/alumni. Included is a terrific photo of two Hall of Fame managers, courtesy of Bob Warrington, baseball historian and collector.
While the NFL, NHL and NBA regular seasons are underway, baseball is entering its offseason. Well, perhaps it is better known as the shopping season. Something like 147 free agents can sign with new teams.
No other sport can match baseball’s rumor mill or July trading deadline media frenzy. A week ago, the NFL trade deadline came and went in a yawn. Only one deal, the Eagles sending a defensive lineman to the Patriots for a future draft pick. Despite little activity, I don’t recall one single rumor.
Baseball writers feed the rumor mill. Each tries to out-do the other. Scoops more often turn into bloops.
There’s a website, http://www.MLBTradeRumors.com, which specializes in rumors. Tim Dierkes, one the site’s writers, posted his predictions for the top 50 free agents for the third straight year. Fans can get into the predicting act, too. 5,239 fans participated last year.
According to Tim, the Phillies will wind up signing outfielder Nelson Cruz, right-handed starter Ricky Nolasco, right-handed reliever Edward Mujica and re-sign Chooch. Tim has Doc Halladay signing with the Mets. Time will tell.
Arizona Fall League
OF Cameron Perkins, playing for the Peoria club in the AFL, was beaned on Friday but returned to the lineup the next day. First at-bat? Hit by a pitch again. He finished that game with three hits and three runs scored . . . C Cameron Rupp is hitting .324 for the same club.
Greg Luzinski is being inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night.
As a youngster growing up in New Jersey, Mark Leiter was a Phillies fan. As a player he spent two years wearing that uniform. Now, Mark Jr. is a young pitching prospect in the Phillies minor league system. Check out a feature about the Leiters written by Paul Hagen at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
The new Peek at the Past photo on the same webpage features the Sarge being interviewed on national TV after the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS 30 years ago.
Congratulations to the World Champion Red Sox. The Beards beat the Birds in Game 6 last night, clinching at Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. A city that was rocked by the horrific marathon tragedy earlier this year now has a euphoric memory that will last a lifetime. Boston Strong.
We all know the Phillies have won two World Series (1980 and 2008) and both have been at home…..the greatest moment in the 33-year history of Veterans Stadium and the greatest moment in four-year-old Citizens Bank Park.
For me, it was an experience of two extremes. 1980 was my 16th season as the head of the public relations department. That meant I was heavily involved in details involving the World Series and media circus. 2008 was my first year in a semi-retired position heading Alumni Relations and my first year of not being in the press box.
Leading, 3-2, over the Royals in 1980, we returned home with Lefty on the mound. A good feeling but it is never over until it’s over.
Leading Game 6 after eight innings, Chris Wheeler, then in the PR department, and I headed for our clubhouse, which was to open to the media immediately if we won. A large wooden platform was set up in the middle of the clubhouse for the trophy presentation. A second platform was nearby for the NBC TV camera. If we lost the game, all of that had to be removed, quickly. Wheels and I are watching on a tiny black and white TV monitor on the large platform.
When Rose caught the ball that popped out of Bob Boone’s glove for the second out, I looked at Wheels, “There’s no way we’re going to lose now.” We could hear the roar of the crowd when Tug got the final out.
After celebrating on the field, the players began coming in the clubhouse followed by media. It was so crammed, one could hardly move. MLB said Schmidt is the MVP. Get him to the interview room right now was MLB’s order. Wheels obliged. By the time Schmidt got back to the clubhouse, TV off was off the air. He was the only WS MVP that didn’t get interviewed on national TV up until then. Schmitty still reminds us about that.
Fast forward to 2008.
With Bonnie Clark on board as the Vice President of Communications, I was around as an advisor while developing Alumni plans. As a rookie, I didn’t make it to the World Series. She did. Geez, maybe I was the problem all these years.
My wife (Julie) was diagnosed with COPD that spring training and was placed on oxygen 24/7. With the aid of a portable concentrator, we were able to be at all of the postseason games. At home, she and I sat with our family in Hall of Fame Club seats. It was strange not being in the press box anymore. A really tough adjustment, believe me. But, I was now allowed to cheer and did. There’s no cheering in the press box.
Traveling with the team for road games, Julie and I were fortunate to be included in a private suite provided for some of our owners plus Pat and Doris Gillick, Sylvia and Dallas Green. Another adjustment as I had never watched a game from a suite.
As mentioned, the 1980 trophy presentation was in the clubhouse. MLB later changed that and moved the presentation to the field for the benefit of the fans. While making plans for a possible post-game presentation, Bonnie asked if I would get Pat Gillick to the field. He and I took the stairway from the Press Box level to the field after Lidge struck out the last hitter. As we’re going down the steps, I remember Pat saying, “I was thinking, one more save, Brad, one more.”
I will always remember where I was for the two clinching moments. I’m sure you remember where you were. Share your memories by posting them here.
Something like 140 members of the Phillies baseball operations department—Ruben and his staff, Ryno and his staff, scouts, player development personnel, athletic trainers, conditioning coaches and assorted upper level executives—are wrapping up a four-day organization meeting today in Clearwater. Event took place at the Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field. It was an opportunity for everyone to meet, review the various aspects of the baseball operations phase and enhance the Phillies Way of doing things. It has been nearly 10 years since the Phillies have had an organization meeting.
Ruben and Ryno continue interviewing candidates for the pitching coach and bullpen coach. On the minor league level, Joe Jordan is formulating his staff in player development.
Five minor leaguers from the states are polishing their skills at the Phillies Academy in the Dominican Republic: 2B Andrew Pullin, OF Cord Sandberg (no relation to Ryno), 3B Mitch Waldng, 3B Yan Hernandez and OF Larry Greene.
The annual CHOP Halloween Party was held last night at the Embassy Suites near the airport. Event is held for CHOP patients. Attending were broadcasters Tom McCarthy, Scott Franzke and Gregg Murphy, Alumnus Tommy Greene, Phillie Phanatic and ballgirls.
Upcoming events at Citizens Bank Park:
**November 1, wedding in the Hall of Fame Club and reception in the Diamond Club.
**November 2, fund-raiser for Autism with over 12,000 walkers expected. And, another wedding and reception that night.
**November 3, fund-raiser for ALS with over 4,000 walkers.
**November 5, Kofax (software business solutions) has an all-day meeting in the Media Room and Hall of Fame Club.
Organizations interesting in holding an event at the ballpark should call 215-218-5100.
Alumnus Rheal Cormier is part of a group called MC Sports out of New York. The group owns the Reno Aces, a triple-A club for the Diamondbacks. The group has just purchased the Bowling Green (KY) club, a class A minor league team in the Rays’ organization.
Larry Bowa’s broadcasting career with the MLB Network will end at the end of December.
Charlie Manuel was inducted into the Parry McCluer High School Hall of Fame in his native Buena Vista, VA, recently. He starred in football, basketball and baseball in high school.
Tim McCarver is broadcasting his 24th and final World Series, a record. Tim replaced Howard Cosell on the ABC TV crew in 1985. As a player, he hit .311 in 21 World Series games. In 1974, he started the season with the Cardinals before being sent to the Red Sox. Fittingly, his last World Series has the Red Sox facing the Cardinals.
Before we got into the 1980 World Series, my experience with the Fall Classic involved volunteering to work that event for Major League Baseball. Thought I might share some of my memories.
Going to World Series in different cities, I could only imagine how Philadelphia would react to such an event. Couldn’t wait to see the outpouring of emotion I experienced in other cities. But, when your team is in the World Series, there isn’t much time to enjoy what the fans are experiencing. Trust me, I’m not complaining.
One of the early experiences was in Oakland in 1972. I was assigned to go to the Coliseum from the hotel to get all the credentials for the MLB office the day before the game one. The A’s, run by Charlie Finley, had a small staff and the best security I’ve witnessed. The doors to the A’s offices were locked. Had to pound on the door numerous times until someone came to let me in.
The A’s mascot back then was a mule. Yes, a big mule. The gala held the evening before the first game was in the Oakland Convention Center. Charlie didn’t spare any expense for the party. Lobster was everywhere. I’m sitting at a table with Warren Giles President of the National League and enjoying the lobster. I look up and almost nose-to-nose is this mule starring at my plate of food. Ever feel defenseless?
In 1975, the National League’s PR person resigned late in the season. Bill Giles was approached about “loaning me” to the NL for the Cincinnati-Boston World Series. I was willing. The series is best known for three days of rain in Boston between Games 5 and 6. The Reds won a terrific Series in seven. I was with a World Champion team, but, I really wasn’t.
Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson was awesome, so accommodating. We didn’t know each other before meeting in Boston. “Lawrence, let me know what you need from me or my players.” The only other person to call me Lawrence was Mom and she only did that when I misbehaved. Did Sparky know that?
Game 1, time for player introductions. It was cold and some of the Reds were wearing jackets. I thought it looked better if everybody looked the same, no jackets. “Sparky, no jackets, please,” I pleaded. He yelled, “Jackets off everybody.” Golly, that was easy.
Until we got to a WS, my most memorable moment came in 1977, Game 6. I was in the middle of history, as it turned out. Female reporters were not permitted in MLB clubhouses at the time. I was assigned to Melissa Ludtke of Sports Illustrated. If she wanted to interview a player, I was to accommodate her but outside the clubhouse.
Reggie Jackson hit three home runs that night in Yankee Stadium and Melissa understandingly wanted to interview him. Reggie’s clubhouse locker was mobbed, so mobbed he was unable to make an appearance in the interview room. So, my job: get Reggie to Melissa, who patiently, yet impatiently, waited outside the clubhouse. A concourse jammed with fans was where I was supposed to bring Reggie.
One hour went by and I still couldn’t get to Reggie. I don’t remember how much more time elapsed before I was able to deliver him to Melissa. She was denied equal access and it simply wasn’t fair. A year later, she filed a civil action suit against MLB and won, clearing the way for other female reporters.
In 1979, was again working for MLB. To get to Pittsburgh from Baltimore, we were allowed to travel on the Pirates charter flight. Once in the Pittsburgh airport, we were waiting for our luggage to appear on the carousel. All of a sudden a red Phillies bag appeared among all the black and gold Pirates luggage. Bill Robinson, a friend who had played with us and was now with the Pirates, took the chance to embarrass me in front of his teammates. “Hey, everybody. Look at this. A bag from the fourth-place Phillies. Who owns this bag?” I was trying to hide but couldn’t.
Two years later the New York Yankees were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. Goose Gossage of the Yankees hit Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey in the head with a pitch in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. ABC TV was curious what happed to Cey. I was dispatched to the Dodgers trainer’s room. Cey was lying on a table. He didn’t know me and I didn’t know him. “Excuse me Ron, I’m with Major League Baseball and wondered what happened on the pitch from Gossage.” He removed the ice pack from his head, “That’s what happened. Dumb bleeping question.”
The 1984 World Series is another one I’ll always remember, Detroit Tigers and the San Diego Padres. Series started in San Diego. I’m assigned to pre-game press box duty, something I enjoyed…answering phones, assisting media with information, seat assignments, etc. It was a beautiful afternoon, so typical of San Diego. All of a sudden, my seat rumbled for a few seconds, like I just went over a couple of bumps riding a bicycle. My first earthquake.
Game 5, the decisive game, was in old Tiger Stadium. Detroit won and the city began to riot. From high in the press box we could see fires and smoke. Sirens dominated the night noise. More than an hour after the last out, we could still hear sirens. The buses that were scheduled to take the media back to the hotel were parked on the street. For safety purposes, the police brought the buses inside the park. As we exited the park, a fan somehow got on the roof of the bus. Using great judgment, the bus driver stopped the bus, got out and said, “You hang on tight and I’ll drive very slowly.” There were unruly fans all around us and it was scary. Several blocks later, our roof rider exited.
Another somewhat harrowing duty occurred in 1985. The St. Louis Cardinals were leading the series, 3-2, and had a 1-0 lead over the Royals going into the bottom of the ninth in Kansas City. ABC TV had set up a platform and a camera in the middle of the St. Louis clubhouse for the clinching moment. My job was to cart the bulky World Series trophy. With one out, the Royals rallied for two runs extending the Series to Game 7. We had seconds to get out of the clubhouse before the dejected Cardinals arrived from the field. Compared to the ABC crew, I had an easy job.