The 1975 Phillies had no pitching representative fitting the ‘Phillies 50’ series definition of little impact on that year’s club combined with minimal career MLB impact, and the 1973 club has no real position player rep fitting that description. So, we’ll make it up a bit on both accounts by highlighting two pitchers who each fit the bill with those 1973 Philadephia Phillies.
Dave Wallace was a right-hander signed as an undrafted amateur free agent out of a Connecticut high school in 1969. Ron Diorio also came to the Phillies organization from Connecticut that same year as their 16th round draft pick from the University of New Haven.
Wallace would make appearances in parts of three big-league seasons, with the Phillies in 1973 and 1974 and then with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1978. Diorio made 23 appearances in 1973 and then two more in 1974 with the Phillies.
Making his debut in Major League Baseball first, Wallace was inserted by first-year manager Danny Ozark in relief on July 18, 1973 at Riverfront Stadium. He was not given an easy assignment, having to face the heart of the ‘Big Red Machine’ batting order. After walking Joe Morgan to lead off the bottom of the 8th, Dave Concepcion roped an RBI double and Johnny Bench singled. Wallace then recorded his first big-league strikeout, getting Tony Perez. Andy Kosko followed with an RBI double, and Ozark had seen enough, lifting the 25-year-old Wallace in favor of Bucky Brandon.
Diorio would be called up to make his big-league debut on August 9, 1973 at San Diego Stadium. Ironically he would be brought in by Ozark in the bottom of the 6th inning in relief of Wallace, who had just allowed an RBI double to Jerry Wallace that put the Padres up by 6-3.
After intentionally walking the first batter he faced, Johnny Grubb, Diorio surrendered an RBI single to Dave Roberts that made it a 7-3 game. Diorio then recorded his own first strikeout in Major League Baseball, getting San Diego slugger Nate Colbert. He then retired Leron Lee on a ground out to end the frame. In the top of the 7th inning, Mike Rogodzinski pinch-hit for Diorio.
Though Wallace made his debut first in what was the first big-league season for each, Diorio got far more work. Wallace appeared in just four games, while the 26-year-old Diorio was with the Phillies for most of the final two months of that 1973 season and made 23 appearances.
Diorio was released as the 1975 season got underway. He would split that season between pitching in Mexico and at Triple-A in the Montreal Expos system. After pitching in the New York Yankees minor league system during both 1976 and 1977 he would retire.
Wallace pitched in the Phillies system through 1977 and was released in January 1978. He signed with the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of spring training that year, pitched with their Triple-A Syracuse farm team that year, and saw his final six big-league games with the Jays during May of 1978.
After pitching in the Boston Red Sox system in 1979, Wallace retired and became a pitching coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system. There he helped develop arms such as Pedro Martinez, Hideo Nomo, and John Wetteland.
While managing at San Antonio with the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system in 1984 and 1986 he inserted himself into a handful of games as a pitcher, the last at age 38. He would remain in the Dodgers system through 1998.
Wallace then was hired as the New York Mets pitching coach under Bobby Valentine, serving in that role in 1999-2000, the latter campaign ending in a World Series appearance. After that Fall Classic he returned to the Dodgers to serve in the front office for a couple of seasons.
In June 2003, Wallace returned to the field when he was hired as the Boston Red Sox pitching coach under Terry Francona. There he would win a World Series ring with the 2004 Bosox and remain in the role through the 2006 campaign. Wallace then worked as pitching coach with the Seattle Mariners in 2007.
Over the last decade or so, Wallace has served as pitching coach or coordinator with the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves and now at age 72 is a pitching consultant for the Braves organization.
2 thoughts on “Phillies 50: Forgotten 1973 – Ron Diorio and Dave Wallace”
I think the picture on the right is of Mike Wallace, not Dave Wallace.
Thank you very much for pointing this out. I believe that the pic has now been corrected to show Dave rather than Mike Wallace. Always appreciate notes like yours. Stay well.