Tag Archives: Darren Daulton

Lance Parrish and Gregg Jefferies: big-name free agents who didn’t work out for Phillies

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Lance Parrish had been one of baseball’s top catchers

Excitement surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies has skyrocketed over the nearly two weeks since the announcement that Bryce Harper had agreed to a contract with the team.

Harper was the biggest piece to an off-season puzzle put together by principal owner John Middleton and general manager Matt Klentak, turning the Phillies from an interesting young team into an immediate title contender.
The club also signed a former National League Most Valuable Player, Andrew McCutchen and one of the top relievers in baseball over the last decade, David Robertson, in free agency. However, it was the signing of Harper which lit up the phone lines in the ticket sales office and actually drove fans to the Phillies website to grab seats for 2019 ball games.
Harper is one of the top players in the game today. He becomes the latest in a series of high-profile free agent stars from Pete Rose in 1978 to Jim Thome in 2002 to Cliff Lee in 2010 to choose Philadelphia as their new home. He is by far the youngest and is expected to impact the organization for a far longer time period than any free agent addition in franchise history.
Signing a big-name All-Star in free agency has not always worked out for the Phillies, however. The two biggest during the decades of the 1980’s and the 1990’s each ended up a major let-down. Neither of those players would produce to the standards they had set in their respective careers prior to their arrival in Philadelphia. Neither would help the team to achieve success. Here is a look back at those two disappointing free agent signings.

Lance Parrish was a slugging catcher who appeared to be just what the late-80’s Phillies needed to return to contention. (KG Graphics/WikiCommons)
The Phillies of the mid-late 1980’s began to fall on some hard times as management tried one of the toughest tricks in baseball, rebuilding while continuing to win. It wasn’t working out real well. The 1984 Phillies slipped to the .500 mark at 81-81, and the following year suffered the first losing season for the team in a decade.
In 1986, the Phillies bounced back to finish 86-75. It was the third-best record in the National League, but still only good enough for second place, 22 games behind a mega-talented New York Mets club that would go on to win the World Series.
Still, the Phillies felt that they were back. Schmidt had won his third NL MVP and was still going strong at age 36. Juan SamuelVon Hayes and Glenn Wilson were providing solid support.
The catching position was in a state of flux. Ozzie Virgil Jr, who had been an NL All-Star in 1985, had been traded to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that brought closer Steve Bedrosian and outfielder Milt Thompson to the Phillies.
In the 1986 season, 25-year-old John Russell was the starter behind the plate and caught in 93 games. He was supported by Ronn Reynolds, a 27-year-old who came over from the Mets and caught in 43 games and a skinny 24-year-old named Darren Daulton who caught 49 times.
On the free agent market in the off-season the club decided to close the gap with the Mets by upgrading behind the dish. The 30-year-old Parrish, one of the top catchers in the game at the time, had become a free agent. The Phillies jumped, inking him to a two-year contract at $1 million per season.
Parrish had been an AL All-Star catcher in the previous five years and six of the prior seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers. He was a five-time Silver Slugger winner as well as a three-time Gold Glove Award winner, and a key cog in their 1984 World Series championship team.
His first game with the Phillies came on April 7, 1987 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Much as with Rose’s first game in the powder blue road unis of the time, it was nothing to write home about. The Phillies were shutout that night by Rick Mahler, who surrendered just three hits in a complete game effort. Parrish went 0-2 with a walk.
The 1987 Phillies never got going. They lost their first four game, eight of their first nine, and were ten games under the .500 mark in early May.
A big push from late-June through late-August during which they went 35-18 pushed them nine games over the .500 mark and moved the club within 6.5 games of first place. But they would go just 13-25 from that point, finishing in fourth place, 15 games out.
In 1988 the Phillies sank to the bottom of the NL East standings like a stone right from the outset. They were 7.5 out by the end of April, 14 games back by the end of May, and were 16 out at the MLB All-Star break. Things only got worse after that point. The team went 29-47 after the break to finish in last place, 36.5 games behind the leaders.
To say that the two seasons with Parrish were disappointing would be an understatement. Not only did the team fail the fans, but so did he, slashing just .230/.304/.385 with 32 homers, 38 doubles and 127 RBI over 253 games with the Phillies.
Jefferies arrived with the Phillies at an unusual time for both the franchise and the game. He signed a four-year, $20 million deal as a free agent on December 14, 1994. At the time, Major League Baseball was still in the midst of a player strike that had seen the World Series cancelled for the first time since its inception. The strike would finally be resolved on April 2, 1995 and the season would begin three weeks later.
The Phillies had been the surprise 1993 NL pennant winners. But at the time the strike they were just 54-61 and struggling along in fourth place. One of the most popular veterans of that team, John Kruk, was turning 33-years-old and became a free agent.

Jefferies wasn’t bad in his time with the Phillies. He was just never very good, and after early promise, neither was the team. (1995 Upper Deck SP)
Re-tooling their lineup, the club decided to bring back former third baseman Charlie Hayes as a free agent as soon as the strike was ended. That moved incumbent Dave Hollins over to first base to take Kruk’s spot.
Jefferies couldn’t agree to contract terms with the Saint Louis Cardinals, and chose to leave for the Phillies. He would end up splitting time between left field and first base in his first two seasons with the club, and then become the full-time starting left fielder in the last two.
Just 27-years-old when he signed, the Phillies appeared to be getting one of the top pure hitters in the game as he was entering his prime.
Jefferies had reached Major League Baseball at just age 19 when he was the youngest player in the NL with the 1987 New York Mets. He finished 3rd in the 1989 NL Rookie of the Year voting, and then hit .342 and .325 and had been an NL All-Star in each of the two seasons with the Cardinals prior to his arrival in Philadelphia.
The hope was that he could bring a similar skill set as Kruk had provided. A slashing doubles hitter who could get on-base frequently. His ability to play the outfield also allowed manager Jim Fregosi some versatility in lineup construction.
Much of the 1993 popular core was still around, including Hollins, Curt Schilling, Darren Daulton, Lenny DykstraJim EisenreichMariano DuncanMickey Morandini and Kevin Stocker. It was hoped that the additions of Jefferies and Hayes would help the club return to contending status.
Jefferies debuted on April 26, 1995 at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals in Saint Louis. The host Redbirds would rally from an early 5-0 deficit, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the 9th inning for a 7-6 walkoff victory. Jefferies went 1-4 with a walk, run scored, and a stolen base. He was also thrown out stealing.
The 1995 Phillies came out like gang-busters. With baseball back, that club ran out to a 37-18 record by June 25, building a 4.5 game lead in the NL East. Then the inexplicable happened. They returned home for a seven-game homestand and won just once. It was the beginning of a horrendous slide in which the club would lose 20 of their next 26 games.
They never recovered, falling further and further out in the division. The 1995 Phillies would finish tied for second place, but at 69-75 were 21 games behind the division-winning Atlanta Braves, who would go on to win the World Series that year.
Jefferies would have one major individual highlight during the 1995 season. On August 26 he became the first Phillies player in 32 years to hit for ‘The Cycle’ when he did it against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Veteran’s Stadium.

That 1995 season would be the first of four consecutive big losing seasons during Jefferies years with the Phillies. It became a period in which the team, rather than finding a way to continue the 1993 success, would instead increasingly move through transition. By his final year in 1998, Jefferies was teammates with the likes of Scott RolenBobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal. But they were the future, and he was pretty much finished.
Over his four seasons in Philadelphia, Jefferies slashed .287/.340/.411 with 95 doubles and 52 stolen bases. He wasn’t a bad player – he just wasn’t a very good one either. While it was never expected that he would carry the team, it was hoped that he would remain an All-Star caliber player who would help the Phillies back to contention. After those first two months, they never came close.
With the signing of Harper, a new era is clearly dawning in the history of Phillies baseball. It is a near certainty that he will prove a far more positive influence on that history than either Parrish or Jefferies. Fans are hoping that by the time his 13-year contract is finished, the Harper-era Phillies will not only have surpassed the results of the Lee and Thome clubs, but even the World Series-winning Rose team.

Carlos Ruiz is the fan choice to become the next Phillies Wall of Famer

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‘Chooch’ is the clear favorite of fans for Wall of Fame enshrinement

A couple of weeks ago here at Phillies Nation, I published a piece speculating on which non-2008 players might be worth of a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame. Fans responded by tossing out a number of their own choices as commentary, either directly at the website or via social media.

Names not mentioned in my piece but suggested by fans included 1960’s-era players Rick WiseTony Gonzalez, and Cookie Rojas. The National League Most Valuable Player in 1950 and a key pitcher with the NL champions that year, Jim Konstanty was also mentioned. There was even someone who brought up some early-1900’s names such as Dave BancroftJack Clements, and Jimmie Wilson.
As a result of the comments, I decided to actually reach out and poll the fan base to see who their favorite might be to become the next Phillies Wall of Famer.
I decided to run the polling in a two-phase process. I would run a pair of four-player semi-final polls to kick things off. Then would take those receiving the most support and put them into a three-player finals poll. This was a simple Twitter poll, so I am claiming no special scientific method used.
As criteria, I left out most of the early-1900’s players. Fact is, those players historically receive little to no support from modern fans in such polls. Though this recency factor working against them is unfair, it is also a genuine phenomenon. However, I’ve always been a big supporter for 1910’s first baseman Fred Luderus, so put him into one of the semis polls.
The results in those semis with 241 total fans responding were as follows:
Poll #1: Carlos Ruiz 55%, Pete Rose 35%, Bobby Abreu 8%, Fred Luderus 2%
Poll #2: Shane Victorino 39%, Dan Baker 27%, Cliff Lee 18%, Manny Trillo 16%
As you can see, the two 2008 players received the greatest support, something that I anticipated. I decided to move Chooch and The Flyin’ Hawaiian into the final poll.

As the third choice, I made it public address announcer Dan Baker, who now has nearly 50 years with the organization and whose voice is recognizable to generations of Phillies fans. I also factored in that the club is not likely to actually consider Rose again any time soon, if at all.
That final poll resulted in tremendous response as 2,107 individuals cast ballots. The final voting result was a little more lopsided than I had anticipated:
If these are the only choices, your vote for next @Phillies Wall of Famer:
20%Dan Baker
59%Carlos Ruiz
21%Shane Victorino

Based on my little non-scientific polling it would appear that Carlos ‘Chooch’ Ruiz, the catcher for the 2008 World Series champions who played with the club from 2006-16, is the clear fan favorite to become the next honoree on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
If he does get selected by the team, Chooch would become the fourth backstop to be so honored. He would join Bob Boone (2005), Darren Daulton (2010), and Mike Lieberthal (2012) as catchers previously enshrined on the Wall of Fame.

If the usual timing is followed this year, the Phillies can be expected to announce the 2019 Wall of Fame honoree in late-February. There has been no announcement at this time as to whether fans will be included as part of the process for selection of that honoree.

Philography series to resume with Phillies retired number legends

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Phillies legends Schmidt, Carlton, Bunning to be covered as ‘Philography’ series resumes

It was just over four years ago that I first decided to write mini-biographies about famous Philadelphia Phillies figures of the past. The effort was largely for me. I have always enjoyed history and biographies of influential and famous figures from the past, not just sports-related.

While I knew the “baseball card” information on most of the players, I knew very little about their backgrounds. Where did they come from? What was the specific path leading them to Philadelphia?
If they played for another team, what achievements did they enjoy with that club? How did their career, and in some cases their lives, come to an end? Did they enjoy a post-baseball career?
Out of this natural curiosity on my part the “Philography” series was first born. I decided that I wanted to write about the playing careers, and touch on other aspects of the lives, of some of my own Phillies favorites of the past. The series would begin with a star player from my youth, “The Bull” himself, Greg Luzinski.
Over the next two months, I produced a new piece each week, picking from the team’s past in no specific pattern: Mitch WilliamsChris ShortVon HayesPlacido PolancoJim KonstantyDick AllenDick RuthvenGrover Cleveland “Pete” AlexanderDarren Daulton,
Paintings and memorabilia adorn the walls and fill the
halls on the Hall of Fame level at Citizens Bank Park

The Philography series was officially born. I then made the decision that this would become a regular off-season project, to write a handful of Phillies mini-bios each fall and winter.

In December 2015 a piece on Larry Bowa was produced, and we were off and running once again. A month later I reached back in time to produce a piece on Sherry Magee. Before spring training began for the 2016 season there would be installments on Kevin StockerGranny Hamner, and the only female to appear thus far, Edith Houghton.
The series returned in December of 2016 with a piece on Bob Boone, and I made a decision to push the series in a specific direction for the first time. That off-season, I would go after the Phillies all-time best catchers who hadn’t previously been covered. With Daulton and Boone in the books, the series continued with Wall of Famer Mike Lieberthal and old-timer Red Dooin.

And then the series was shelved. Last off-season saw a number of changes in my life, and most of my writing took a back seat for a while. I returned to regular baseball writing this summer upon joining the staff here at Phillies Nation. And now, the series will be making its return as well.
This off-season will see the continuation of “Philography” with some of the biggest names in franchise history. Over the next few weeks there will be pieces covering each of the five players who have had an actual uniform number retired by the Philadelphia Phillies due to their play with the team: Richie AshburnJim BunningMike SchmidtSteve Carlton, and Robin Roberts.
I hope that you enjoy these pieces, which it will be my goal to release each weekend beginning after Thanksgiving. If you are interested in catching up with the past “Philography” series installments, they can each be found at the following links.

Lenny Dykstra indicted by grand jury and faces possible return to prison

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In a decision related to actions allegedly taken by former Phillies star outfielder Lenny Dykstra back in May of this year, a New Jersey grand jury handed down indictments on Wednesday.
The Associated Press has reported that third-degree charges for possession of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as terroristic threats, carry with them potential sentences of up to five years imprisonment.
The now 55-year-old Dykstra became involved in an altercation involving an Uber driver, one in which the former Mets and Phillies outfielder was accused of putting a gun to the driver’s head. That driver, 47-year-old Brian Lutty, had reportedly refused to change the final destination of the trip.
Lutty pulled outside of police headquarters in Linden, New Jersey, about 20 miles outside of New York City, and bolted from the car. Responding officers found no gun but did find drugs in Dykstra’s possession.
Dykstra claimed that Lutty had “kidnapped” him. Christian Red and Larry McShane of the New York Daily News quoted him back in May: “The guy went nuclear on me. He f—ing kidnapped me and almost killed me going 100 mph. He locked me in his f—ing car, and he wouldn’t let me out.”

David Porter of the AP outlined some of Dykstra’s many public troubles since he last played Major League Baseball following the 1996 season:

“Since retiring from baseball, Dykstra has served prison time for bankruptcy fraud, grand theft auto and money laundering, and he declared bankruptcy in 2009, claiming he owed more than $31 million and had only $50,000 in assets.”

According to the New York Times, in May of 1991 while driving home late at night after attending a bachelor party for teammate John Kruk, Dykstra wrapped his 1991 Mercedes-Benz around a pair of trees in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Fellow Phillies star Darren Daulton was a passenger in the vehicle.
Both were lucky to escape with their lives. That New York Times report stated: “Dykstra…suffered three broken ribs, a broken right collarbone and a broken right cheekbone. A broken rib punctured a lung and his heart was bruised, according to doctors. Daulton…suffered a broken left eye socket, a scratched left cornea and a heart bruise, doctors said.”
This time around, Dykstra obviously believes that there is more to the case than the public knows at this point. He seems to feel that he will ultimately be vindicated, based on this tweet sent on Thursday morning:
Dykstra, known during his career by the nicknames “The Dude” and “Nails”, had a 12-year career in MLB, the final eight of those with the Phillies.
In 1993, Dykstra was the runner-up in National League Most Valuable Player voting to Barry Bonds. That year, the Phillies center fielder hit for a .305/.420/.482 slash line with 19 homers, 66 RBI and 37 stolen bases.
He led the NL with 194 hits and 129 walks and led all of baseball with 143 runs scored that year as the Phillies captured the National League pennant. He was also a Silver Slugger Award winner in 1993, and a National League All-Star in both 1994 and 1995 with the Phillies.

Over the course of his eight Phillies seasons, Dykstra registered 829 of his career total 1,298 hits. He ranks 9th in on-base percentage, 16th in stolen bases, 24th in walks, 36th in runs scored, 37th in doubles, and 47th in hits on the Phillies all-time leader boards.
Dykstra is scheduled to be arraigned at a future date. Whether the case ultimately goes to trial or his lawyer is able to negotiate a plea deal that somehow saves him from more jail time, it appears that the man who earned more than $36 million dollars during his professional baseball career has not yet overcome his personal demons.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Dude! Former Phillies star Lenny Dykstra indicted for May 2018 incident, faces a possible return to prison

Remembering the 1993 NL champion Phillies in their silver anniversary season

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Daulton was the acknowledged clubhouse leader of the 1993 NL champions

The Philadelphia Phillies are officially feting the 2008 World Series championship team this weekend.

On the 10th anniversary of the historic season which concluded with that team winning the second title in franchise history, it is wholly understandable and appropriate.
However, there is another beloved Phillies team celebrating a big anniversary this year.
In fact, as someone who has been following the team closely since Veteran’s Stadium opened in 1971, I’ve always maintained that the other anniversary team provided the most fun single Phillies season that I ever experienced.
Sure, the 1980 and 2008 Phillies teams both won the World Series. I attended Game Two of the 1980 Fall Classic as an 18-year-old. I was at the parade celebrations for both championship teams.
I was inside JFK Stadium in October of 1980 when Tug McGraw told New York to “take this world championship and stick it!” I was videotaping at 15th & JFK and captured a fan making a memorable climb up a light pole on Halloween in 2008.
But for all the drama, excitement, and ultimate thrill that those two clubs provided, there was never a more fun Phillies season from start to (almost) finish for me than the one provided by the 1993 team.
It almost seems lost in all the excitement over the 10th anniversary of the 2008 club, but this is now the silver anniversary for the 1993 National League champion Philadelphia Phillies team.
Yes, it has been 25 years now since that mullet-wearing, scruffy-bearded, ‘Macho Row’-led crew stormed through baseball. In a March 2012 piece, Mike Bertha at Philadelphia Magazine summed up that unforgettable season perfectly:

“It began with a bench-clearing brawl at spring training. Then, over the course of 103 total wins, 49 extra innings, 12 playoff games and some late nights (or, more accurately, early mornings), the 1993 Phillies seduced the city. Fans spent the summer flocking to the Vet to watch their appropriately nicknamed “Animal House,” both captivated and agog as the Phillies stampeded through the National League and then marched through Atlanta to earn a date with the defending-champion Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series.”

The Darren Daulton Foundation operates today in the name of, and as a memorial to, the namesake captain of that Phillies team. The foundation provides financial assistance to those who suffer from brain cancer and brain tumors. On June 8, they held a reunion celebration for the 1993 team.
Our own Kevin McCormick here at Phillies Nation reported on the event and those in attendance back in June:

“…the pennant-winning team showed up for the event, including: Tommy Greene, Jim Eisenreich, Larry Bowa, Milt Thompson, Ben Rivera, Mickey Morandini, David West, Tony Longmire, Curt Schilling, and even Danny Jackson who arrived after throwing out the first pitch at the Phillies-Brewers game across the street. Fans in attendance got to meet the players, take pictures, get autographs, and chat with the guys throughout the night.”

Morandini, who shared second base duties with Mariano Duncan, eventually became a minor league manager and then a big league coach with the Phillies. He remains on the payroll as a popular club ambassador.
Five of the men who were in uniform and playing important roles that summer are no longer with us, including Daulton. The catcher and leader of that ball club died a year ago this coming Monday following a four-year battle with brain cancer.

Also now gone off to play on that “Field of Dreams” in the sky is their raspy-voiced manager Jim Fregosi, along with three members of his coaching staff: John VukovichJohnny Podres, and Mel Roberts.
Phillies fans still get plenty of first baseman John Kruk (TV) and reliever Larry Andersen (radio) as members of the current Phillies regular broadcasting crew. Andersen and Daulton hold the distinction of being the only players to appear with the Phillies during both the 1983 and 1993 pennant-winning seasons.
Greene was a member of the 1993 starting rotation, joining Schilling, Jackson, Rivera, and Terry Mulholland. He and shortstop Kevin Stocker can be found chipping in work as a broadcaster and analyst respectively at times.
Some of the more popular members of that hard-charging ball club have become embroiled in controversy over the years. Beginning with nine seasons in Phillies pinstripes, Schilling built a strong Hall of Fame résumé as he continued his career helping the Diamondbacks and Red Sox to World Series victories.
The MVP of the 1993 NLCS victory over Atlanta, Schilling’s shutout in Game Five of the World Series that year is one of the greatest post-season pitching performances in Phillies history. Some now find him controversial as an outspoken conservative political and social commentator.
Mitch Williams was a respected analyst with MLB Network before he was fired in 2014 after an altercation at a youth tournament. Williams filed a lawsuit and was ultimately awarded a $1.5 million judgement in June of last year.
Lenny Dykstra finished as runner-up to Barry Bonds in voting for the 1993 National League Most Valuable Player. ‘The Dude’ or ‘Nails’ as he was alternately known blasted dramatic home runs in both the NLCS and World Series that year.
Over the ensuing decades, the now 55-year-old Dykstra has fallen the farthest and hardest. In May of this year came his latest incident, arrested in New Jersey after allegedly pointing a weapon at an Uber driver and threatening to blow the driver’s head off. Cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy were found on him by responding police.
Some members of that 1993 team are already immortalized by the organization. Bowa, previously honored in 1991 for his role as a player, would be joined by Vukovich (2007), Daulton (2010), Kruk (2011), and Schilling (2013) on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
It was a completely unexpected, fun summer filled with wild, walk-off wins, some in the wee hours of the morning. Numerous seemingly unlikely heroes stepping up to deliver pivotal hits or make clutch plays at crucial moments. A wild band of misfit characters playing the parts and winning the hearts of Phillies fans for decades to come.
They fell just two games short of the ultimate prize. But even that was nothing to hang their heads about. The Toronto Blue Jays finally ended their magic with Joe Carter‘s walk-off home run in Game Six.
That Toronto club, already defending World Series champions, put a trio of Hall of Famers on the field in Rickey HendersonPaul Molitor, and Roberto Alomar, as well as a handful more all-stars. The 1993 Phillies were within a big blown lead in Game Four and Carter’s heroics of pulling off their most stunning victory of all.
As you justly honor and remember the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies this weekend on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, take some time out to also recall that 1993 Phillies team. A silver anniversary is just as worthy of celebration, especially this one.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “World Series winners not the only beloved Phillies team celebrating an anniversary