Tag Archives: Aaron Rowand

Four Phillies have won the NL Rookie of the Year Award

Sanford was the Phillies first Rookie of the Year Award winner in 1957.

 

In a scheduled 6:00 pm EST telecast this evening on MLB Network, the 2019 Major League Baseball Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards will be announced.

These are the official awards for the National and American League’s top first-year players as chosen in voting by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Finalists for the NL honors are first baseman Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, starting pitcher Mike Soroka of the Atlanta Braves, and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.of the San Diego Padres.

Over in the AL the finalists are OF/DH Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros, 2B/OF Brandon Lowe of the Tampa Bay Rays, and starting pitcher John Means of the Baltimore Orioles.

(UPDATE: After original publication of this piece it was announced that Alonso and Alvarez had won the NL & AL awards respectively.)

Winners of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) Rookies of the Year were announced earlier in the day. Those awards went to Alonso in the NL, with Alvarez capturing the AL honors.

The Chicago chapter of the BBWAA established the original Rookie of the Year Award in 1940 and voted on a single winner for all of baseball through the 1946 season.

In 1947, voting went national, and the winner was the racial barrier-breaking Robinson. Beginning in 1949 a separate award was given for the top rookie in each league.

Originally named the J. Louis Comiskey award after the 1930’s-era Chicago White Sox owner, it was renamed as the Jackie Robinson Award in July 1987 on the 40th anniversary of his breaking baseball’s unofficial color barrier.

The Philadelphia Phillies have seen four players take home the award as NL Rookie of the Year.

The first of these was Jack Sanford. A right-handed pitcher from Massachusetts, Sanford was signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent prior to the 1948 season. He made his first big-league appearances during a brief three-game cup of coffee in 1956.

During his official rookie campaign the following year at age 28, Sanford made 33 starts, going 19-8 with a 3.08 ERA for a .500 ball club. Sanford allowed just 194 hits over 236.2 innings with 188 strikeouts, a figure that led the National League.

For his outstanding freshman season, Sanford not only took home the NL Rookie of the Year award, but was also named to the NL All-Star team that year. In addition, he finished 10th in the NL MVP voting.

Seven years later, in what would become an infamous 1964 campaign for the Fightin’ Phils, a slugging 22-year-old third baseman named Dick Allen took the honors in the National League.

Allen (featured picture accompanying this piece) had also received a cup of coffee in September prior to his breakout season, hitting .292 over 25 plate appearances across 10 games in September of 1963.

The following year, Allen (known then as ‘Richie’) led the Phillies to the front of the National League, a position the club would hold until collapsing with 10 consecutive late-September losses left them a game off the pennant pace.

Allen’s power-speed combination in the middle of manager Gene Mauch‘s lineup made all of the difference. He slashed .318/.382/.557 with 29 home runs, 91 RBIs, and 125 runs scored.

Among his 80 extra-base hits were a league-leading 13 triples, and Allen led all of Major League Baseball with 352 total bases.

In addition to capturing that year’s NL Rookie of the Year honors, Allen finished 7th in the NL Most Valuable Player voting.

It would be more than three decades before another Phillies rookie took home the honors. Once again it would be a dynamic, slugging third baseman. But that player very nearly did not qualify for the award.

Requirements for the MLB Rookie of the Year Awards are that a player must have fewer than 130 official at-bats or fewer than 50 innings pitched in order to be eligible. They must also have fewer than 45 days on the active roster, excluding time on the disabled list, in military service, or time when the rosters are expanded.

In 1996, Scott Rolen was called up for an August 1 doubleheader against Saint Louis at Veteran’s Stadium. He would play so well that he was never sent back to the minor league.

Rolen hit .254 with four homers, seven doubles, 18 RBIs, and 10 runs scored over his first 146 big-league plate appearances with the Phillies across 37 games that summer.

Then, in the bottom of the third inning of a September 7 game at Veteran’s Stadium, Rolen was hit by a pitch thrown by Chicago Cubs starter Steve Trachsel. He would be pulled from the game, and miss the rest of the season.

That left Rolen a single at-bat shy of exhausting his rookie eligibility. With it still intact the following year, he would become a runaway winner in the 1997 Rookie of the Year voting.

That season, Rolen slashed .283/.377/.469 with 21 homers, 59 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, 93 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases. He also played the hot corner like no one had since Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt nearly a decade earlier, and like no one has since.

Eight years later, in 2005, a hulking first baseman named Ryan Howard would become the fourth and most recent Phillies player to win those Rookie of the Year honors.

Howard may have been ready for his big-league debut a year earlier, but was blocked by future Hall of Famer Jim Thome. Howard did receive his own September cup of coffee promotion in 2004, blasting a pair of home runs over 42 plate appearances across 19 games.

Thome was still manning the first base position at Citizens Bank Park when that 2005 season began, so Howard again began the season at Triple-A.

However, an injury to Thome opened the door for an opportunity, and Howard  was called up on May 3 for what would be another dozen games. The injury to Thome’s elbow would persist, eventually costing his season. Howard came back on July 2 to stay.

Over the final four months of the season, Howard slashed .296/.365/.585 and became one of the most feared middle-order hitters in the game. He blasted 21 homers with 62 RBIs over just 318 plate appearances in that stretch.

During the ensuing off-season, Thome would be traded away to the Chicago White Sox for a package led by center fielder Aaron Rowand. Howard would become ‘The Big Piece’ in the middle of the lineup for five straight NL East Division champs, back-to-back NL pennant winners, and the 2008 World Series champions.

While a member of the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper took the honors as National League Rookie of the Year as a 19-year-old back in 2012. Harper hit .270 with 22 home runs, 57 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs, 98 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases after being called up on April 28.

Phillies welcome a weak Chisox club to town for weekend set

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The Chicago White Sox (46-60) come in to South Philly for a three-game weekend Interleague series with the host Philadelphia Phillies (57-51) at Citizens Bank Park.

Though both teams are at around the same spot in their respective divisions, their respective fates in this 2019 season couldn’t be more different. The Chisox season is already over. They are buried at 14.5 games out in both the AL Central Division race and American League Wildcard playoff race.
The Phillies enter this series in a three-way tie with the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs for the two available NL Wildcard playoff berths. The Phillies are tied for second place, sitting six games behind the Atlanta Braves in the loss column in the National League East Division.
These two franchise’ have met just 16 times in their history, with the Phillies capturing 10 of those, including eight of 11 meetings at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have also won the last three straight in the head-to-head series, taking the last two at home by 8-3 and 7-6 scores back in September of 2016.
The Phillies and White Sox share an affinity for a recent-era legend, Jim Thome. Though he was inducted last summer to the Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Cleveland Indians cap, Thome starred with the Phillies from 2003-05 and returned briefly in 2012. He was inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2016.
Dealt to the Chisox in November 2005 in a multi-player deal highlighted by Aaron Rowand coming to Philly, Thome then starred in Chicago into the 2009 season when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the August 31 waiver deadline. He actually played in more games (529-391) and hit more home runs (134-101) with the White Sox than the Phillies. Thome now works as a special assistant to the White Sox organization.
A plaque is located at the White Sox home ball park, Guaranteed Rate Field, in the center field fan deck honoring Thome. It reads: “On June 4, 2008, Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome became the first player ever to hit a baseball onto the Fan Deck of U.S. Cellular Field as the Sox beat the Kansas City Royals. He duplicated the tape-measure feat on September 30, 2008 as the White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins, 1-0, in a one-game playoff to win the American League Central Division championship.
The last time that the Chisox came to Philly it resulted in a Phillies sweep. Frankly, this is the kind of opponent that these current Phillies need to sweep as well. That is easier said than done. The Phillies haven’t swept any series of three or more games since taking out the New York Mets in a four-gamer back in late June, the last time they won four straight games at all.
In the August 1 MLB Power Ranking released here at Phillies Nation, the White Sox ranked just 28th of the 30 MLB clubs. The Phillies finished 14th in those most recent rankings. Scoring at a rate of 4.08 runs per game, the Chicago offense is 28th in MLB. Their pitching staff OPS-against of .339 is 24th, similar to the Phillies staff .334 (22nd) mark.
Thome will not be the only former Phillies face showing up this weekend. The Phillies are honoring their 2009 National League Championship team in a reunion celebration on both Friday night and Sunday afternoon with appearances by players such as Ryan HowardJimmy RollinsChase UtleyBrett MyersBrad Lidge and more. On Saturday night, Bobby Abreu will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Jose Abreu (32/1B): .263/.299/.472, 22 HR, 44 XBH, 74 RBIs, 48 runs
Tim Anderson (26/SS): .310/.332/.477, 11 HR, 25 XBH, 38 RBIs, 39 runs, 15 steals (just 292 PA’s due to injury)
Eloy Jimenez (22/LF): .233/.294/.459, 17 HR, 24 XBH, 39 RBIs, 36 runs (just 282 PA’s due to injury)
Leury Garcia (28/CF): .292/.326/.391, 6 HR, 27 XBH, 29 RBIs, 66 runs, 12 steals
Jon Jay (34/RF): .324/.352/.392, 7 doubles, 7 RBIs, 10 runs (just 110 PA’s since June 24 promotion)

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Yoan Moncada (24/3B): Happily for the Phillies from a competitive standpoint, the White Sox young star third baseman will miss this series. He was placed on the IL just yesterday with what has been diagnosed as a Grade 1 right hamstring strain. He is expected to be out at least two weeks.
He has been a huge piece for us,” manager Rick Renteria said per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Having him go down is kind of a kick in the gut.
Though it may be good timing for the Phillies, that is a shame for baseball fans. We will be missing out on seeing one of the game’s top young talents, one who doesn’t come to Philadelphia very often since his team plays in the American League Central Division.
Moncada is a 24-year-old who signed with the Boston Red Sox as a high-profile teenage Cuban bonus baby back in 2015. Then in December 2016, he changed socks – literally. The Red Sox sent him to the White Sox as part of a big four-prospect package in exchange for superstar pitcher Chris Sale.
He had received an eight-game cup of coffee with Boston for his MLB debut in 2016, but it was Chicago who gave him his first permanent big-league promotion and starting role beginning in July 2017.
As a 23-year-old in his first full big-league campaign a year ago, Moncada rapped out 55 extra-base hits. He also struck out 217 times, a figure that led all of Major League Baseball.
This year he took a step forward, slashing .301/.358/.535 with 44 extra-base hits, 59 RBIs, and 58 runs scored over his first 97 games prior to the injury.
The Phillies are one of just five MLB teams that he has never faced. Phillies fans will now have to wait at least a while longer before they get their first look at this talented youngster. By the time they do, he could well be much more fully developed star.

The Phillies will happily miss Giolito (center), during this weekend series. (Ian D’Andrea)

CHISOX SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

FRIDAY – Ivan Nova (32/RH): 6-9, 5.23 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.440 WHIP, 149 hits over 125.2 IP across 22 starts with an 81/32 K:BB
SATURDAY – Ross Detwiler (33/LH: 1-1, 6.35 ERA, 6.84 FIP, 1.676 WHIP, 34 hits over 22.2 IP across 7 appearnces (3 starts) with a 12/4 K:BB
SUNDAY – Reynaldo Lopez (25/RH): 5-9, 5.43 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 1.464 WHIP, 136 hits over 124.1 IP across 22 starts with a 117/46 K:BB
Moncada is not the only talented Chisox youngster whom the Phillies are happy to be missing in this series. Their lone 2019 American League All-Star, starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, took his regular turn on Wednesday night, and so is not scheduled to go during these three games.

THE SKIPPER

Rick Renteria: The 57-year-old Renteria is now in his third season at the helm of the Chisox, having piloted the team to a pair of fourth place finishes. Chicago has won just 67 and 62 games in his first two seasons. This year they are playing much better, but still find themselves 13 games below the .500 mark and already out of the postseason picture.
Renteria was the first round pick at 20th overall back in the 1980 MLB Draft out of South Gate High School in his native California. He played in parts of five big-league seasons with three different teams, seeing his most action as a utility infielder with the expansion 1993 Florida Marlins.
He was both a coach and manager in the Marlins minor league organization after retiring as a player through 2001, and then joined the San Diego Padres in a variety of roles through 2013.
Renteria was hired for his first big-league managerial job with the Chicago Cubs in November 2013. However, he was let go a year later when the Cubs opted to bring in Joe Maddon. Renteria caught on as the Chisox bench coach in 2016, leading to his taking over the managerial reigns for the 2017 campaign.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

FRIDAY: The temps will drop from the low-80’s at the 7:05 pm first pitch time into the upper-70’s through the game. Winds will be light throughout the game, and there is only a slight chance of showers. Should be a nice night at the ballpark for the opener.
SATURDAY: There is a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms in the forecast for the 7:05 pm first pitch time. Light winds and real-feel temps in the low-80’s throughout the night.
SUNDAY: Mostly sunny with real-feels around the 90 degree mark, light winds, slight chance of showers at the 1:05 pm first pitch time. In all, weather should not play much of a role in this series, aside from the slight possibility of a passing shower at some point.
South Philly forecast from The Weather Channel

The Flyin’ Hawaiian returns to the Philadelphia Phillies

Shane Victorino will help out the Phillies at 2019 spring training

Six and a half years have passed since the last time ‘The Flyin’ Hawaiian’ pulled on the uniform of the Philadelphia Phillies on July 29, 2012 at Turner Field in Atlanta.

The aging Phillies dropped a 6-2 decision to their NL East Division rivals that afternoon. The defeat left them 12.5 games behind the second-place Braves and 16.5 off the pace being set by the first-place Washington Nationals.
The late Roy Halladay had taken the mound for the start that day. He would strikeout seven and walk just one over six innings and leave with the Phillies trailing by just 3-2 before the bullpen surrendered three in the 7th inning to break the game open.
The first five batters in the Phillies lineup that day were familiar to fans: Jimmy Rollins, Victorino, Chase UtleyRyan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. But all were between 31-33 years of age, beginning to push past their glorious prime years together.
Two days later, Victorino was one of the first to go in what would become a major rebuilding program that would last for more than a half-decade. He was dealt on July 31 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitchers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin, as well as a player-to-be-named who turned out to be in infield prospect named Stefan Jarrin.

On that same day, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr dealt away another starting outfielder, Hunter Pence, signalling a surrender of his team for the season. The club would actually heat up, pulling within three games of the second NL Wildcard with 11 to play. But that was as close as they would get.

 

Victorino became the left fielder for the Dodgers, stealing 15 bases over the final third of the season for a club that finished in second place in the NL West, two games off that final Wildcard pace and just five ahead of the 81-81 Phillies.
That off-season, Victorino became a free agent for the first time. He signed a two-year, $26 million deal with the Boston Red Sox that would turn into three seasons when the Beantowners picked up his $13 million option for 2015.
In his first season with Boston, Victorino played right field. He would win his fourth career Gold Glove Award at age 33 and receive AL MVP votes as the Red Sox captured the World Series championship.
In the clinching 6-1 victory in Game 6 over the Saint Louis Cardinals, Victorino knocked in four of the runs with two hits, including a two-out, bases-clearing double to open the scoring in the bottom of the 3rd inning.
The following 2014 season was injury-riddled, with Victorino playing in just 30 games before succumbing to back surgery on August 5th. He returned in 2015 and again lost time due to a late-April hamstring injury. On July 27, 2015 the Red Sox dealt him to the Los Angeles Angels for infielder Josh Rutledge.
Victorino signed with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 2016 season and went to spring training with them. He was released at the end of spring training, but signed a minor league deal to remain with the team. He was then released by the Cubs on May 23, 2016 and that was the end of his playing career.

Last July 3rd, Victorino formally announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. On August 3rd he signed a one-day contract with the Phillies in order to retire with the team for whom he had enjoyed his greatest successes.

 

Victorino was originally a 6th round draft pick of the Dodgers back in 1999 out of St. Anthony High School in Wailuki, Hawaii. Three years later he was left exposed in the Rule 5 Draft and was selected by the San Diego Padres. He broke into the big-leagues with San Diego for a 36-game cup of coffee at the start of the 2003 season.
On May 23, 2003 the Padres returned him to the Dodgers, realizing that they couldn’t carry him on their big-league roster all season. The Dodgers again exposed Victorino to the Rule 5 Draft in the next off-season, and on December 13, 2004 the Phillies pounced on him.
He would make his name in Philadelphia. In 2006, Victorino split his time between all three outfield positions. Then in 2007 he became the everyday right fielder as the Phillies won the first of what would become five consecutive NL East crowns.

When Aaron Rowand left in free agency, Victorino took over in center field. He would be the starter there for the Phillies for most of the next five years, until his 2012 trade to the Dodgers. He won three straight NL Gold Glove Awards from 2008-10, and was an NL All-Star in both 2009 and 2011. He received NL MVP votes in each of the latter two seasons.

 

And, of course, he was leaping on top of a pile of teammates as the Phillies won the second World Series championship in franchise history on October 29, 2008. Earlier in the month his grand slam home run off Milwaukee Brewers ace C.C. Sabathia had been one of the key hits in that entire postseason.
Victorino continues to call his native Hawaii as home for much of the year. His father, Mike Victorino, was elected as the Mayor of Maui last November. Back in November, Robert Collias at The Maui News asked Victorino what has become his focus in retirement:
Watching my children grow up, getting that opportunity as a father, to not have to worry about that 9-to-5 grind every day, but to have an opportunity to help be a part of their lives and their upbringing, basically be there for moral support.
Shane Victorino joined the Phillies today as a guest instructor. This is his first time in uniform since he left the Phillies in 2012.

 

 

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And now, for the first time since he pulled his uniform off on that late-July day nearly six years ago, Victorino will don a full Phillies uniform and take the field. He joins a long list of former Phillies players who have helped the team prepare this season including former 2008 World Series-winning teammates Jimmy Rollins and Chad Durbin.

 

When it was first announced back in mid-February that Victorino would be helping out at spring training this year, Tim Klepac at 12up described well what the Phillies hope to get from him: “Victorino’s relaxing demeanor is infectious and the front office hopes that will carry into their clubhouse in March.”
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Shane Victorino back in a Phillies uniform

Remembering the Jim Thome Era in Philadelphia

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Thome’s arrival as a big-ticket free agent signaled a new era of winning for Phillies

With this MLB off-season so highly anticipated here in Philadelphia, I decided to take a look back during this month at some of the more important Hot Stove moments over the course of Phillies history.

So far we’ve traveled back to re-examine big free agent signings of Pete Rose in 1978 and Jose Mesa in the winter of 2000. We also took a look back at a pivotal 1981 trade in which catcher Bo Diaz came to Philly from Cleveland as part of a three-team swap which sent outfielder Lonnie Smith to the Cardinals.
This time around we’re going to take a look back at two different Hot Stove moves from the first decade of the 21st century. One is a free agent signing, the other a trade. Both involve the same centerpiece player, Phillies Wall of Famer and Baseball Hall of Famer Jim Thome.
To understand the motivations for the Phillies deciding to open up their wallets and bring Thome to Philadelphia you need to remember the context of where the franchise was and who the player was at that time.
From 1987 through 2002, a period that spanned the final years of Mike Schmidt‘s career through the final year of Scott Rolen‘s career with the Phillies, the team suffered through 14 losing campaigns over 16 seasons.
The 1993 National League champions had proven to be an oasis in a long, wide desert of losing years. But things began to change as the new century dawned.
Under popular and fiery new manager Larry Bowa the Phillies had nearly captured the 2001 NL East crown. Thanks to a stretch of nine losses in 11 games to open the month of September, the 2002 Phillies finished 80-81. Though it was another losing record, something was obviously different.
The Phillies had a talented core group of position players featuring veteran catcher Mike Lieberthal, exciting youngsters Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins, and the power-speed combination of an entering-his-prime Bobby Abreu.
Also, the club was preparing to say goodbye to Veteran’s Stadium. The 2003 season would be the 33rd and final one on turf for the team. A brand new facility to be named Citizens Bank Park was under construction and would open for 2004.
Phillies chairman Bill Giles, club president David Montgomery, and GM Ed Wade knew that there would be major financial benefits coming with the new ballpark. They wanted to make a push to excite the fan base even further, and so went into that off-season on the hunt for marquee names to add to the roster.
On December 2nd they signed 30-year-old free agent David Bell to play third base. This would allow Placido Polanco, obtained the previous summer in trade for Rolen, to shift over to second base, strengthening the overall lineup.
But what the lineup really needed was one truly menacing presence in the middle. A big bopper to serve as an anchor, a game-changing threat with the kind of true power that hadn’t regularly plowed the baseball trade in South Philly since Schmidt’s retirement more than a decade earlier.
As good fortune would have it, just such a talent was coming available on the free agent market. Thome was a 32-year-old veteran of a dozen big-league seasons who was one of the most feared power-hitters in the game at that time.
James Howard Thome was an Illinois native who had been the Cleveland Indians pick in the 13th round of the 1989 MLB Amateur Draft, which was held exactly one week after Schmidt’s retirement.
He first broke into the big-leagues with Cleveland in 1991 with the typical September cup of coffee. The following summer he became a regular at the end of June, but a late August injury brought his rookie campaign to an early end. He returned in 1993 but didn’t receive a promotion back to Cleveland until mid-August.
When the 1994 season opened he was one of the key pieces to a young and quickly improving Indians team. The club bolted out to a 66-47 record with Thome ripping 20 homers. But it was all brought to a sudden end by the player strike.
The true career breakout for Thome came when baseball returned for the 1995 campaign. He slashed .314/.438/.558 with 25 homers and 73 RBI as the Indians won 100 games and an AL Central crown. The Tribe then beat Boston and Seattle to capture the American League pennant before dropping a tough six-game World Series to the Atlanta Braves.
It would prove to be just the beginning of a baseball renaissance in Cleveland. The Indians became the AL Central’s dominant team, winning the division for five straight seasons and six times over seven years through 2001.
However, despite all of their talent and all of the winning, the Indians would return to the World Series just one more time during that stretch of dominance. That one other shot would also fall just short, and may have been the most demoralizing defeat of all.
In Game 7 of the 1997 Fall Classic, Cleveland was just two outs away against the Florida Marlins. But the Fish rallied against Tribe closer Jose Mesa to tie it up. In the bottom of the 11th, the Marlins would win it, sending Thome and the Indians home to another in a series of frustrating late-90’s winters.
During his time in Cleveland, Thome came under the tutelage of Indians hitting coach Charlie Manuel. The plain-spoken homespun wisdom of Manuel would blend perfectly with Thome’s own personality, and the two would become close.

Manuel became the Indians manager from 2000-02 and the club continued to win over the first couple of seasons, including capturing the 2001 AL East crown. However, with a number of the players aging quickly and others gone in trades or free agency, the Indians were losing in 2002.
Manuel was looking for a contract extension and some security as he would try to help the club rebuild. The Indians weren’t willing to meet his terms, and Manuel was fired on July 12. The handling of Manuel’s situation did not sit well with Thome, and would become a factor when he entered free agency that off-season.
Over parts of 12 seasons with Cleveland, Thome slashed .287/.414/.567 with 334 homers, 259 doubles, and 927 RBI. He had been a 3x AL All-Star, a Silver Slugger Award winner, and had finished among the top 10 in AL MVP voting three times, including each of his final two years.
He had also earned more than $40 million to that point in his career and received an annual salary at roughly $8 million per year over his last four seasons in Cleveland. This was the player who entered free agency in the fall of 2002.
The Phillies brass rolled out the red carpet in trying to woo the Paul Bunyan-esque Thome to sign with them. He and his wife, Andrea toured both Veteran’s Stadium and the construction site at Citizens Bank Park with agent Pat Rooney.
While outside of the construction site, a group of electricians union members cheered him on. When Thome stopped to speak with them, the group did a fantastic salesmanship job in representing Phillies fans wishes to have him join the team.
”I heard a lot of great things about Philadelphia,” Thome said per an AP report at ESPN at the time. ”You saw what the people did out there and that was heartwarming. It’s going to be a tough decision.”
Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team would continue to apply the pressure that night when the Thome’s were treated to a game. On the couple’s introduction to the crowd midway between the second period the Philly sports fans gave him a rousing standing ovation.
The Phillies would ultimately win the bidding for the free agent star in a process that came down to them and a return to Cleveland. On December 6, 2002, Thome inked a six-year deal guaranteeing him at least $85 million and as much as $94 million over the life of the contract.
Thome would deliver everything that the Phillies hoped and then some. In the first season of 2003 the slugger finished fourth in the NL MVP voting as he led all of baseball with 47 home runs, ripped 30 doubles, and registered a career-high 131 RBI.
The 2003 Phillies led the NL Wildcard race as late as September 19. But a season-closing collapse in which they lost six straight and seven of the last eight games left them frustrated as the Veteran’s Stadium era came to an end.
In 2004, Thome blasted another 42 homers and made his first National League All-Star team. Those long balls included the milestone 400th home run of his career. The Phillies won 86 games for a second straight season and moved up from third to second place in the NL East Division standings. But the club would miss out on the postseason once again, this time it was a rough 5-13 stretch in mid-August that did them in.

Meanwhile down in the minor leagues, a 24-year-old first baseman named Ryan Howard was making an enormous impression. In that summer of 2004, Howard blasted 46 homers and had 131 RBI while playing at the two highest levels in the Phillies farm system.
It was fairly obvious that Howard could not be kept in the minors for much longer. But first base was his only real position. It was also Thome’s position, and the veteran still had four more years to run on his contract. Something had to give. The Phillies tried Howard out in left field, but there was no way that the big man could handle the position.
When the 2005 season opened the Thome-Howard had yet to resolve itself. But as so often happens in those situations, fate would step in to lend a hand.
Howard began 2005 ripping 16 home runs and driving in 54 runs while slashing an other-worldly .371/.467/.690 over his first 61 games back at Triple-A.
Thome started fast as well over the first couple of weeks. But then something began to change. The veteran began to slump, and then missed three weeks at the end of May. He returned to the lineup but struggled, hitting just .207 with seven homers through June.
It turned out that Thome had suffered a frayed tendon in his right elbow. He would require season-ending surgery and miss the entire last three months of the 2005 season. The decision to hang on to Howard was apparently going to pay at least short-term dividends.
Getting the call to the big-leagues, Howard would not waste the opportunity. In just 88 games he slashed .288/.356/.567 with 22 home runs, 17 doubles, 52 runs scored, and 63 RBI. For the performance, Howard would be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
Howard was just 25-years-old and was now part of an exciting, youthful Phillies lineup that included Rollins and Burrell, still both in their 20’s, and a 26-year-old second baseman named Chase Utley who had emerged that same summer as a future star.
Those 2005 Phillies again fell short of the postseason. But they improved to 88 wins, finished just two games behind the Braves in the NL East race, and were an agonizing one game short of the Houston Astros for the NL Wildcard berth. They had been done in by five straight early-September losses, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Astros at Citizens Bank Park in which all three were agonizingly close.
The writing was on the wall for the now 35-year-old Thome. The surgery, Howard’s electrifying performance, and the latter’s perfect fit with the core of an emerging contender was going to make Thome expendable. It was time for new GM Pat Gillick to find a deal that would work for both the team and player.
That deal would come together over Thanksgiving, and on Black Friday of 2005 the Phillies general manager sent Thome to the newly-crowned World Series champion Chicago White Sox. The Phillies would include cash to help off-set the nearly $45 million still owed on Thome’s contract over the next three years.
In return the White Sox would send 28-year-old center fielder Aaron Rowand to the Phillies. Rowand had just completed his fifth big-league campaign, his second straight as a full-time starter. He hit .270 with 13 homers, 30 doubles, 16 steals, and 77 runs scored in helping the Chisox capture their first world championship in 88 years.
The deal worked out for both clubs. Thome bounced back all the way from his surgery, blasting 42 home runs and making the AL All-Star squad in the 2006 season. Rowand played a fantastic center field in Philly, including making one of the most memorable catches in team history, one that earned him an eternal place in the hearts of Phillies fans.

Then in 2007 while Thome was ripping another 35 homers with Chicago, Rowand became an NL All-Star and was a key piece in the Phillies capturing the first of five straight NL East crowns.
Meanwhile, Howard made sure that the Phillies didn’t miss a beat with their production from the first base position. In 2006 he followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign by slamming a franchise-record 58 home runs. He also slashed .313/.425/.659 and drove in 149 runs.
For that performance he was selected as an NL All-Star, and then was named as the National League Most Valuable Player. over the next five seasons, Howard would become known as ‘The Big Piece’ with five straight NL East champions, and one of the biggest pieces on a talented 2008 World Series championship squad.
In the late Fall of 2002, Jim Thome arrived in Philadelphia as a drawing card and hopefully the final piece to push an emerging contender to the postseason. He was absolutely the former, but never quite became the latter.
When he left in the Fall of 2005 it was to bring in Aaron Rowand, someone who would not be as big a drawing card, but who became a popular player with the fan base, and who would himself become one of the final pieces to a Phillies posteason team.
Thome would have one final moment on the stage at Citizens Bank Park when he signed to re-join his old mentor Manuel, who was now the Phillies manager. Manuel had been at the helm for that 2008 title and the Phillies were coming off a 102-win season that was the best in franchise history.
Ironically, Thome was brought in because Howard had been injured as the Phillies were eliminated in the 2011 NLDS. With the expectation that Howard’s injury could linger for a couple of months into the 2012 season, it was hoped that Thome could provide a veteran presence and some short-term power at first base.
Alas, it was not to be. The 2012 season turned out to be the most frustrating in more than a decade of Phillies baseball. The team sank to the .500 mark at 81-81, their first non-winning campaign since the 2002 season. Howard would not return until July, and his career would never again be as impactful as prior to the injury.
Thome would not be around for it. With Howard’s return looming and the team at 36-44 and 10 games off the NL East pace, the 41-year-old was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles for a pair of lesser prospects. Thome would help the Orioles to an AL Wildcard berth and appear with them in the postseason that year.
He would retire following Baltimore’s tough five-game loss to the New York Yankees in the ALDS. In 2016, Thome was honored by being enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
At just two full seasons and parts of two others, he has the shortest service time of any player enshrined by the club. Few fans will argue Thome’s impact at a time when the Phillies were trying to establish a winning environment and tradition.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies Hot Stove History: The 2002 coming and 2005 going of Jim Thome

In Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Thome thanks Manuel, recalls time with Phillies

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Thome (R) recognized contributions of his mentor Manuel (L) at the Hall of Fame

When the time came this afternoon for Jim Thome‘s turn to be formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was no surprise to learn that it would his mentor, friend, and former manager Charlie Manuel who would be doing the introductions.

By way of a pre-recorded video, the now 74-year-old former skipper heaped praise on the man whom he managed with both the Cleveland Indians and the Phillies.
Every time he walked up to the plate he was dangerous,” began Manuel. The two are both Phillies Wall of Famers. Now the pupil has surpassed the teacher and reached the pinnacle of individual achievement in his profession.
Manuel went on to recall the circumstances when they first met, and the characteristics that attracted him to the young power hitter.

“As far as meeting him the first time, I wanta say it was in spring of ’89. Jimmy was young. He was shy. He was really tentative about what he did, ya know. He wanted to do the right thing. Jimmy was one of the most dedicated guys as far as listenin’. And coachable? I tell people all the time, with Jimmy Thome, he really thinks that you helped him. But Jimmy Thome helped me too. You know, just bein’ who he was, and bein’ dedicated like he was.”


“He hit so much, I don’t think I can explain to you how much he hit.”

Manager Charlie Manuel reflects on the career of ‘s own Jim Thome, ahead of his speech.

There has clearly always been a special bond between the two men. In Cleveland, Manuel was the hitting coach as the Indians won the AL Central Division crown in each of Thome’s first five full seasons from 1995-99.
Manuel would become the manager of the Indians in 2000 but was fired in July of 2002 over a contract dispute. Thome would leave as a free agent that following off-season, signing with the Phillies.
In 2005, the two men would experience an all-too-short reunion when Manuel was hired as the Phillies new skipper. However, Thome would suffer through an injury-marred first half. By June 30, his season was over. Into the breach would stop a new slugger, Ryan Howard, who would win the NL Rookie of the Year Award that season. Thome’s days in Philly were numbered.
Following that 2005 campaign, Thome was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two pitchers, one of whom would be Gio Gonzalez.
Manuel would go on to guide the Phillies to five consecutive NL East crowns, back-to-back National League pennants, and the 2008 World Series championship.

In his acceptance speech, Thome remembered

“When I was writing my speech, I was overwhelmed as I reflected on the number of people who have helped shape my career. The first person will come as no surprise. From the moment I met Charlie Manuel as a wide-eyed kid in the Gulf Coast League, I knew this was someone I could connect with instantly. Charlie took a scrappy young kid who was anxious to hit a million home runs, and actually encouraged those dreams. He told me that I could hit as many home runs as I wanted to. From day one in that dugout in Kissimmee, he always believed in me. Chuck, I’ll never forget the day you called me into your office in Scranton. You had this idea that I could benefit from what Roy Hobbs was doing. Little did I know, that day in Pennsylvania would change everything for me. From that day on, all we did was work, work, and work some more.”

Thome’s voice then began to crack and tremble perceptibly as he finished his thanks to his mentor. “You know that I wouldn’t be standing here today without you. Thank you for everything.
Thome then pointed a finger at Manuel adding “But most of all, thank you for your loyalty.” The skipper returned the gesture with a nod, clearly emotional behind dark black sunglasses.
After Thome had recounted his days in Cleveland, he quickly moved to his time in Philadelphia.

“Cleveland is where my career was born, but Philadelphia is where I had to grow up fast. I needed every single tool in my toolbox in Philly. The city welcomed me with open arms from the moment the electricians met us, wearing our hard hats. The fans couldn’t have been better. Larry Bowa was the manager and he was tough as nails. He pushed me and our team to a whole new level. Thanks Bo, and the front office in Philly, first class all the way. David Montgomery, Bill Giles, alongside of Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. They made my time there so meaningful.”

Thome also gave a special shout out to former Phillies trainer Jeff Cooper for a program that helped Thome manage a recurring back problem.
There was a large contingent of Phillies fans on hand in the crowd, an acknowledgment that his affection for the City of Brotherly Love is fully reciprocated.
Jim Thome is a class act, and he demonstrated that again today at Cooperstown. His special relationship with both Manuel and the Phillies organization was on full display as he joined the pantheon of the game’s greats.