This past Thursday the MLB Network marked the 40th anniversary year of the Philadelphia Phillies victory in the 1980 World Series by broadcasting all four of their wins during that Fall Classic. Under manager Dallas Green, that Phillies ball club captured the first championship in franchise history.
Even younger fans who weren’t around then but who still pride themselves on knowing the history of the ball club are aware that Green left the team and went on to work in the front office with a few other clubs before returning to the Phillies in the late-1990’s.
Those young fans may even have heard that he “raided” players from the Phillies after moving to the Chicago Cubs. What many may not be aware of, however, is just how deep those former Phillies connections went on the North Side of the Windy City.
Green continued as manager of the defending champion Phillies the following year. They returned to the postseason but were eliminated 3-2 in a tough five-game 1981 NLDS by the Montreal Expos following baseball’s only split-season, which came about due to a work stoppage.
The Tribune Company had just purchased the Cubs from their longtime owners, the Wrigley family of chewing gum fame. The new owners lured Green away from the Phillies by making him their executive vice-president and general manager in Chicago.
Green’s famous raid on the Phillies personnel began almost immediately. He hired Phillies coach Lee Elia as the new Cubs manager and newly retired John Vukovich as a coach. Green also brought in Phillies scout Gordon Goldsberry to be his director of player development and scouting.
On December 8, 1981, Green swung the first of a number of trades with Phillies general manager Paul Owens. Catcher Keith Moreland, reliever Dickie Noles, and pitcher Dan Larson went to Chicago in exchange for veteran starting pitcher Mike Krukow in that deal.
On that same day, Green made another deal involving a former Phillies pitcher when he signed 39-year-old free agent starting pitcher Fergie Jenkins. The move was extremely popular with Cubs fans. Jenkins had first grown into a Hall of Fame pitcher in Chicago during the late-1960’s and early-1970’s after the Cubs stole him from the Phillies in a lopsided deal all the way back in April of 1966.
Then on January 27, 1982 as Owens was engaged in a contract dispute with longtime shortstop Larry Bowa, the two teams made another trade. The GM’s agreed to swap their starting shortstops, with the Cubs taking the 36-year-old Bowa in exchange for the 29-year-old Ivan DeJesus. In order to “balance” the risk on the deal due to the age differences of the two, Green asked that Owens toss in an infield prospect, Ryne Sandberg. Owens agreed.
On June 1, 1982, Green signed former popular Phillies outfielder Jay Johnstone as a free agent. Five days later he made shortstop Shawon Dunston the first overall pick in the MLB Draft, his first pick with the Chicago organization. An astute selection, Dunston would become a two-time NL All-Star over a dozen seasons with the Cubs.
That first Cubs team under Green and Elia finished just 73-89 and in last place in the NL East Division. Noles was converted to a full-time starter in Chicago and won 10 games, but struggled to a 1.409 WHIP as he experienced severe control problems and battled alcoholism. Bowa slashed just .246/.302/.305 and scored only 50 runs in 549 plate appearances. Moreland couldn’t win a full-time starting position and Johnstone hit just .249 at age 36.
The Phillies finished in second place that year, just three games behind the eventual World Series champion Saint Louis Cardinals. They were still contenders, but the core of the 1980 World Series champions was now seriously aging. Still, despite Sandberg enjoying a solid rookie year in Chicago, the first post-Green season didn’t reveal much of concern.
In November 1982, Green purchased the contract of Jay Loviglio. The utility player had come up through the Phillies system in the late 1970’s and appeared in 16 games with the 1980 champions. While this one didn’t pay off for Green, it demonstrates that he still had a fondness for players who he helped develop in Philadelphia.
Green demonstrated that fondness for former Phillies once again just two months later when he acquired reliever Warren Brusstar in late January 1982 along with starting pitcher Steve Trout (no relation to Mike) as part of a six-player deal with the crosstown Chicago White Sox.
The 1983 Phillies captured the NL East Division and the National League pennant. That team became known as the “Wheeze Kids” since the club was led by mostly aging veterans. Hernandez was a key member of a strong bullpen for that Phillies club. The Cubs, meanwhile, continued to lose. They would finish 71-91, once again in last place. Those struggles would cost Elia his job in August.
As part of a five-player, three-team deal involving Montreal and San Diego in December 1983, Green added right-hander Scott Sanderson via trade. Sanderson would become a key back-end arm in the Cubs rotation for much of the next half-dozen years.
In January 1984, Green again went to the well for an old Phillies regular when he signed their 1977-78 starting first baseman Richie Hebner. Then late in spring training came another key trade between the two clubs. Owens sent outfielders Gary Matthews and Bob Dernier and reliever Porfi Altamirano to Chicago in exchange for relievers Bill Campbell and Mike Diaz.
“He was like John Wayne walking in the room,” said Dernier, who had played with Green in the Phillies minor league system and in 1980, per the Chicago Tribune. “He was a presence. He was a guy who would pat you on the butt, but he wasn’t afraid to stick his boot there either, if he thought you were short of the right effort.”
The Cubs got off to a hot start in 1984 under new manager Jim Frey, who Green had defeated when the two were managers with the Phillies and Royals in the 1980 World Series. With a five-game winning streak in late May they moved to 11 games over .500, established a two game lead in the National League East Division, and announced forcefully that this would not be another losing Chicago Cubs ball club.
As a result of Green’s maneuvering over the previous two years, that 1984 Chicago Cubs team featured no fewer than 10 players who were key performers with the Phillies at one time during his tenure in Philadelphia.
On the mound was Ruthven in the starting rotation, with Noles and Brusstar coming out of the bullpen. Sandberg and Bowa made up the double-play combination in the middle of the infield. And the entire regular outfield was made up of former Phillies players from left to right: Matthews, Dernier, and Moreland. Off the bench came Hebner and Johnstone as veteran left-handed pinch-hitters.
Green hadn’t only raided his former team, he also bolstered the Cubs with former Phillies rivals. In January 1983 he had swung a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for one of the players who had tormented the Phillies in the 1977-78 playoffs, third baseman Ron Cey. In late August he would bring in another by adding the starting second baseman from those same Dodgers’ teams, Davey Lopes, in a deal with the Oakland Athletics.
Realizing he had a genuine contender, Green continued to wheel and deal during that 1984 season. In late May he brought in veteran right-hander and future Baseball Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley to bolster the rotation. Two weeks later he added another veteran right-hander, Rick Sutcliffe, in a trade with the Cleveland Indians as part of a seven-player deal in which he sent away a 24-year-old outfielder named Joe Carter.
In early June it was time for baseball’s amateur draft, and time for Green to demonstrate once again his superior ability to evaluate young talent. Green selected future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux in the second round and in the sixth it was a left-hander out of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia named Jamie Moyer.
All of the former Phillies brought in by Green wouldn’t last the entirety of that 1984 season. He traded away Noles to Texas in early July and released the 38-year-old Johnstone in early September.
The rest of the former Phillies continued to play key roles as the 1984 Cubs took over first place for good on August 1. On Monday, September 24 they clinched their first-ever divisional crown and the franchise’ first postseason berth in four decades.
The Phillies finished that 1984 season at the exact .500 mark with an 81-81 record. They had remained in the race right through mid-July with Owens serving as manager, a role he had come down from the front office to take on a year earlier. But they collapsed to a 29-41 record after July 19, plummeting out of the race and ultimately finishing 15 1/2 games behind the Cubs.
It had become obvious by that 1984 season that Green had hoodwinked Owens when he got his mentor to toss Sandberg into that 1982 shortstop swap. In 1982, Sandberg stole 32 bases, scored 103 runs, and finished sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting as the Cubs’ third baseman. Moving to second base in 1983, Sandberg wont he the first of nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards.
In 1984, Sandberg took yet another step forward. At age 24 he took home the National League Most Valuable Player honors and won another Gold Glove Award. He also became an NL All-Star for the first of what would be 10 straight seasons and was awarded his first of seven career Silver Slugger Awards.
Bowa was a regular for the final time that year at age 38, playing in over 1,000 innings at shortstop for the 14th consecutive full MLB season. He only failed to reach that mark once, during the strike-shortened 1981 campaign.
The other former Phillies did their part as well. Dernier stole 45 bases, scored 94 runs, and won the NL Gold Glove Award for center fielders. Matthews hit .291 with 82 RBIs, 102 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases. Moreland provided 16 homers and 80 RBIs. Hebner was a key pinch-hitter through June. After missing two months due to an injury he would return to that role for the September playoff push.
On the mound, Ruthven lost two months from mid-May through mid-July to injury. However, that may have prove fortuitous for the Cubs, as Green responded with the Eckersley and Sutcliffe deals to keep his team in contention. Ruthven would win three key games over the final month. Brusstar pitched in 41 games out of the bullpen, registering a 3.11 ERA and allowing 57 hits over 63.2 innings.
Green’s 1984 Chicago Cubs weren’t the only National League team to enjoy a “first” that year where the postseason was concerned. The 1984 San Diego Padres ran away with a what was a very weak NL West – the Padres were the only club in the division with a winning record that year – to also capture their first division crown.
Similar in some ways to the Cubs, that Padres ball club was led by a young future Hall of Fame hitter, 24-year-old right fielder Tony Gwynn. Their lineup was also bolstered by veterans who had become stars with other organizations earlier in their careers. This group included first baseman Steve Garvey, third baseman Craig Nettles, shortstop Garry Templeton, and closer Rich Gossage.
The Cubs were favored and in the opener of the National League Championship Series they showed why, romping to a 13-0 victory. Matthews homered twice and drove in four runs. Dernier homered and doubled. Bowa had a hit and a walk, scoring a run and driving in another. Sandberg threw in a pair of hits, walked, scored twice and drove in a run. Moreland had a hit and an RBI. And Brusstar wrapped it up with a pair of scoreless innings on the mound.
In the second game, Sandberg and Moreland each doubled, Dernier had a hit, a walk, and scored twice, and the Cubs won 4-2 to take what appeared to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Those two victories had come at home in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. The series then switched to San Diego’s cavernous Jack Murphy Stadium for the final three games. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the magic would run out for those 1984 Cubs.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 5th inning in Game 3 behind Eckersley and appeared on their way to a sweep. But the Padres bats suddenly awoke. They put up crooked innings in the 5th and 6th, rolling to a 7-1 victory to stay alive.
With the confidence gained from that win and playing now in front of their boisterous home crowd, San Diego battled Chicago even at 5-5 into the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 4. There, Garvey ended the drama and tied the series with his fourth hit of the game, a two-run, walkoff home run off Lee Smith.
The Cubs glorious season would come down to one final game in southern California. Scoring three early runs, Chicago held a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 6th inning with Sutcliffe dealing on the mound. In that inning the Padres got back into it, cobbling together two runs on two singles, a walk, and a pair of sacrifice flies.
In the bottom of the 7th, a huge two-run double by Gwynn and an RBI single by Garvey that brought him home pushed San Diego on top for the first time at 6-3. Now trailing by three runs and their season suddenly on the brink, the former Phillies would get one final shot at Gossage in the top of the 8th inning.
Hebner was sent up to pinch-hit with one out and was hit by a Gossage pitch. Dernier followed, popping out easily on a first pitch. But Sandberg kept things alive with a base hit that moved Hebner around to third base. The tying run would come to the plate in Matthews. Sandberg then stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Matthews and Gossage battled to a 2-2 count. The future Hall of Fame closer would win that battle, striking out Matthews swinging.
With the Padres still leading 6-3 and down to their final at-bat, Moreland singled with one out in the top of the 9th inning. But he would remain on base as Gossage retired Cey and Jody Davis to end it. The Padres and their fans joyously celebrated their first-ever National League pennant. The Cubs season was over. All of Green’s maneuverings had ultimately fallen short.
After the season, Green was awarded for turning the Cubs around when he was honored as baseball’s Executive of the Year by The Sporting News. Green then won out in an organizational power struggle with club president Jim Fink and was named as Fink’s replacement in Chicago.
The Cubs were never able to recapture that 1984 glory during Green’s tenure. They won seven of their first eight games in 1985, reached 16 games over the .500 mark on June 11, and still held first place in the division as late as June 15. But that club collapsed to a 42-65 record over the final three and a half months.
The Cubs would finish with losing records in each of the next three years, dropping to fourth place in 1985, fifth in 1986, and finally to last place in the NL East in the 1986 season. Frey would remain on as manager before being fired with the club just 22-32 in 1986. Green replaced him on an interim basis with Vukovich, who went 1-1 over two games before Gene Michael was hired full-time.
After signing big-name free agent and future Hall of Famer Andre Dawson prior to the 1987 season the club was just 68-68 in early September, and Green fired Michael. He then reached back to his Phillies roots once more to hire old friend Frank Lucchesi, who had managed in Philadelphia from 1970-72, as the new skipper in Chicago. The team slumped to 8-17 over the final month in what would be the 61-year-old Lucchesi’s final big-league managerial opportunity.
The breakup of the former Phillies reunion began in that disappointing 1985 campaign when Bowa was released in August. Only Sandberg and Moreland, who hit .307 and produced a career-high 106 RBIs, had strong seasons that year. Brusstar was released in April 1986 and Ruthven a month later. Matthews was dealt to Seattle in July 1987, and Dernier returned to the Phillies as a free agent following that 1987 season.
In February 1988, Moreland was traded away to the Padres in a deal that brought Gossage to Chicago. That deal wasn’t concluded by Green, however. In October 1987 he resigned citing “philosophical differences” with ownership. He was replaced by Frey, the man he had fired as manager just over a year earlier.
Green had one final, major influence on the Cubs before leaving. His feuding with the city of Chicago over the issue and threats to move the team out of the city to the suburbs would result in Wrigley Field becoming the last team in Major League Baseball to hold night games. “If there are no lights in Wrigley Field, there will be no Wrigley Field,” Green proclaimed. The Cubs installed the lights and would play their first night game in 1988.
After leaving the Windy City, Green would remain in the game. He served managerial stints with both New York teams, the Yankees in 1989 and the Mets in 1991. And then in 1998 he returned to the Philadelphia Phillies organization as an advisor. Green would remain with the Phillies through his death in March of 2017 at age 82.
In 2006 he joined Owens and five of his former 1980 players in being honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame. They would be joined a year later by Green’s longtime friend with both the Phillies and Cubs organizations, John Vukovich.
While Dallas Green‘s tenure with the Chicago Cubs never resulted in a championship, that 1984 season has always stuck in the craw of Phillies fans who lived through it. As the Phillies slid from a decade-long period of contention into what would be a decade-and-a-half of obscurity, the Cubs won a division crown led by a young future Hall of Famer who had been stolen from them.
It would not be an exaggeration at all to say that Green leaving for the Cubs and his subsequent moves were not only instrumental in Chicago’s 1984 division crown, but they also helped bring about the downfall of the Phillies. He took away Sandberg and a few others who could have helped make it easier for the Phillies to remain contenders, and the loss of Green’s talent evaluation abilities were clearly a blow to the Phillies organization as they struggled from 1984 onward.