Tag Archives: Kevin Stocker

Phillies honor Bobby Abreu with place on the Wall of Fame

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Bobby Abreu joins the immortals on the Phillies Wall of Fame

The Phillies are honoring 1998-2006 outfielder Bobby Abreu prior to the game on Saturday night against the Chicago White Sox by enshrining him on the franchise Wall of Fame.

In a special pre-game ceremony, numerous past Wall of Fame honorees are expected to be on hand, including the franchise’ all-time greatest player, Mike Schmidt.
Abreu played in parts of nine seasons with the Phillies from 1998-2006. He is currently 2nd in walks, 4th in doubles, 7th in extra-base hits and stolen bases, 10th in runs scored, 11th in home runs and RBIs, and 14th in hits on the Phillies all-time leader boards.
His .303 career batting average across 1,353 games with the Phillies is the second-highest of any player who has performed with the team over more than half a century, trailing only the .309 mark produced by fellow Wall of Famer John Kruk. His .416 on-base percentage is the fourth-best of any player during their Phillies career, and Abreu’s .928 career OPS with the Phillies is second in franchise history only to the great Hall of Famer and Wall of Famer, Chuck Klein.
Abreu is a native of Venezuela who was signed by the Houston Astros as a 16-year-old amateur free agent in August 1990. He received his first big-league promotion for a 15-game cup of coffee in September 1996.
He appeared twice against the Phillies that month, lining out to center fielder Ricky Otero as a pinch-hitter for Billy Wagner in a 10-8 Phillies victory at the Astrodome on September 11 in his first game against them.
In 1997, Abreu made the team out of spring training, and stayed with Houston through May. He returned for five games in July, and then was called up again in September, appearing in another 14 games. Against the Phillies he went 4-17 with two runs and two RBIs over five games. He would also pinch-hit, going 1-3, in all three games of the Astros sweept at the hands of the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.

Abreu as a 24-year-old in his first season with the Phillies in 1998.(Roger H. Rangel)
That fall, Major League Baseball expanded to include a pair of new teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now just “Rays”) and an Expansion Draft was held. Abreu, left unprotected by the Astros, became the sixth player chosen overall, the third by Tampa Bay.
Abreu would never play a single game with those original Devil Rays. In fact, he would never get to the Sunshine State at all. On the same day that he was selected in that draft process, the Phillies traded away shortstop Kevin Stocker to acquire Abreu from Tampa.
Stepping into what was a rebuilding Phillies lineup in the 1998 season, the 24-year-old Abreu made an immediate impact by slashing .312/.409/.497 with 17 home runs, 52 extra-base hits, 74 RBIs, 68 runs scored, and 19 steals.
The following year he received NL MVP votes after leading all of baseball with 11 triples. Abreu slashed .335/.446/.549 with 66 extra-base hits, 118 runs scored, and 27 stolen bases in that 1999 campaign, finishing third in the National League batting race. In 2000, Abreu became the first Phillies outfielder since Greg Luzinski in 1979-80 to produce back-to-back 20-homer seasons.
Abreu remained an impact player over the next few years as the Phillies slowly began to build a contending roster around him. He produced a 30-30 season in 2001 (31 HR/36 SB), led the National League in doubles in 2002, and would drive in over 100 runs in four of five seasons between 2001-05. He would also score 100 or more runs in all but one year between 1999-2005, crossing the plate “only” 99 times in the 2003 season.
In both 2004 and 2005, Abreu was recognized as a National League All-Star. He was awarded the NL Silver Slugger for right fielders following the 2004 season when he banged 30 home runs and 78 extra-base hits, drove in 105 runs, scored 118, and stole 40 bases. On April 12, 2004, Abreu left his mark on Phillies history when he clubbed the first-ever home run at brand new Citizens Bank Park.
At the National League All-Star Game held at Comerica Park in Detroit, Abreu was entered in the Home Run Derby, becoming just the second Phillies player ever selected to participate, following teammate Jim Thome the previous year.
Not only did Abreu participate in that 2005 Home Run Derby, he put on a legendary show, setting what were then records of 24 homers in a single round and 41 overall. Following that 2005 season, Abreu was awarded the National League Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence in right field.
Turning age 32 and with the Phillies looking to get more playing time for emerging 25-year-old outfielder Shane Victorino, Abreu was sent along with pitcher Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees for a package of four prospects at the 2006 MLB trade deadline.
Abreu get to play with the five straight National League East Division champions. And, of course, he wouldn’t be a part of the 2008 Phillies team that won the World Series. But still living in the area in Marlton, New Jersey when Brad Lidge sank to his knees and was piled upon by a number of Abreu’s former teammates on that glorious October night, he and his wife popped a bottle of champagne in celebration all the same.
I know how hard they worked,” Abreu said per Michael McGarry of the Press of Atlanta City. “I was a part of it. I have Phillies in my heart. I wasn’t there at that moment. But I was at my house celebrating.
None of the prospects received by the Phillies in that deal ever amounted to anything. Lidle would tragically die in a private plane crash just months later. But Abreu kept on hitting, driving in over 100 runs in that 2006 season, and then again for the Yankees in 2007 and 2008, receiving AL MVP votes in each of those last two seasons.
Just as he wasn’t with the ’08 Phillies champs, Abreu would not be part of the Yankees team that downed the Phillies in the 2009 World Series either. He became a free agent following the 2008 season and signed with the Los Angeles Angels. There, Abreu enjoyed one final 100 RBI season in 2009, and a final 20 homer season in 2010.
While with the Yankees and Angels, Abreu did finally got a lengthy taste of postseason play. He appeared in all eight Yankees ALDS games in both 2007-08, blasting his only-ever playoff home run against Cleveland on October 8. 2007.

Abreu enjoyed his final productive big-league seasons with the Angels from 2009-12. (Keith Allison)
With the Angels he appeared in all three of their 2009 ALDS sweep of the Boston Red Sox, rapping out three hits in the clincher. He then faced his former Yankees team in the ALCS, going just 4-25 with two RBI and falling two wins shy of meeting the Phillies in that 2009 Fall Classic. It would be Abreu’s last appearance in the postseason.
The Angels released him at age 38 in April of 2012. A week later he caught on with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was a teammate of Victorino’s on a team that finished in second place in the NL West, two games shy of an NL Wildcard berth.
Abreu sat out the entire 2013 season as he contemplated retirement. But back home he participated in the Venezuelan Winter League and enjoyed success, hitting .322 with Caracas. In January 2014, Abreu signed with the Phillies and went to spring training in Clearwater with his old organization.
The Phillies reunion wouldn’t last. Abreu was released at the end of Grapefruit League play. However, just days later he caught on with the New York Mets. He would appear in just 78 games with the Mets in a final big-league season at age 40, after which Abreu finally hung up the spikes.
In a last hurrah, it would all come full circle for Abreu. His final career at-bat would come against the team that had signed him more than two decades earlier, the Houston Astros. With two outs in the bottom of the 5th inning on Sunday September 28 at Citi Field, Abreu lined a base hit to left off Nick Tropeano. He was pinch-run for by Eric Young, and road off into the baseball sunset.
Abreu becomes the 41st individual enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame. He joins former teammates already enshrined on the Wall in Mike Lieberthal (1998-2006), Pat Burrell (2000-06), Curt Schilling (1998-2000) and Thome (2003-05), as well as Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel, who were two of Abreu’s managers in Philadelphia.
Abreu’s career in a Phillies uniform also overlapped with a number of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies, including Jimmy Rollins (2000-06), Chase Utley (2003-06), Ryan Howard(2004-06) and Cole Hamels (2006), all of whom will one day find themselves enshrined.
There is a chance that Victorino (2005-06), Carlos Ruiz (2006), Ryan Madson (2003-06), Brett Myers (2002-06) or Randy Wolf (1999-2006), all of whom played with Abreu in Philadelphia, could also one day wind up honored on the Wall of Fame.
Bobby Abreu was a key offensive performer during the late-1990’s when the Phillies were a rebuilding National League doormat. He became an All-Star player as the club built a winning roster through the early-mid 2000’s, but was dealt away just as the club was prepared for a long run of division titles.
Abreu should be remembered as the dynamic power-speed combo player that he was in those early years with the Phillies, and for his performance during those tremendous years he is a worthy Wall of Fame enshrinee.

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

Philography: Kevin Stocker

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Kevin Stocker came late to the ’93 party, but became integral to that success

During this current off-season, the “Philography” series has covered 1970’s era shortstop and franchise icon Larry Bowa, and early 20th century outfielder Sherry Magee.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at an often overlooked, but extremely vital piece to the ‘Macho Row’ NL pennant winners of the 1993 season, shortstop Kevin Stocker.
Stocker was born on February 13th, 1970 in Spokane, Washington. He grew up in that Pacific Northwest town, attended high school there, and went on to play baseball in-state at the University of Washington.
In the 1991 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies made a pitcher out of Wichita State University, Tyler Green, their first round pick at 10th overall. In the second round with the 53rd overall pick, the Phils selected Stocker.
To say that Stocker didn’t hit well in his first professional season during that summer of 1991 at Spartanburg would be an understatement. He produced just a .220/.310/.272 slash line with a dozen extra-base hits in 290 plate appearances.
But Stocker did flash some speed, swiping 15 bases in 18 attempts. And he fielded the shortstop position extremely well. At just 21 years of age, he looked like the prototypical good glove, light-hitting shortstop with some speed whose ability to actually reach the Major League Baseball level was extremely questionable.
In 1992, Stocker got stronger and improved his offensive production. He split the season between High-A Clearwater and AA-Reading, producing a .267/.339/.349 slash line with 74 runs scored and 32 steals over a combined 550 plate appearances. He showed that improved strength and adjustment to pro pitching with 30 extra-base hits, including his first two professional home runs.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the Phillies were seriously struggling. The big league club finished 70-92 and in last place in the NL East in what was a 6th consecutive losing season for the franchise.

The shortstop position was a particular mess. In that 1992 season, the Phillies gave significant plate appearances to four different players: Juan Bell (168), Dale Sveum (153), Kim Batiste (145), and Joe Millette (78), and those players produced just 36 RBI and 39 runs scored, with six stolen bases and 16 extra-base hits.
As the 1993 season got underway, no one expected much of the Phillies. The team had added just a handful of new faces to the ’92 last place finishers. Jim Fregosi‘s squad appeared headed for yet another losing season. And what was just as bad, the organization minor league prospects were not expected to bring much help.
History records that something magical took place in that 1993 season. It happens every once in a while in sports. A team receives peak performances from a number of players at the same time, is relatively healthy for an entire season, has tremendous chemistry, and overachieves to an extreme level.

The ’93 Phillies started with a three game sweep of the Astros in Houston. The club then returned to Veteran’s Stadium and lost their home opener to the Chicago Cubs in an 11-7 slugfest, falling into 2nd place in the NL East. It would be the only day all season that the team did not spend at the top of the division standings.
On July 6th, the Phils were right in the middle of an 11-game homestand, and they dropped a 7-5 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite the defeat, the team had still built up an incredible 55-29 record to that point, and had a six game lead in the division race.
One place that the club was receiving little production still was at that shortstop position. Neither Bell nor Batiste, who were getting all of the opportunities, were doing anything. Fregosi and GM Lee Thomas decided that it was finally time to see what Stocker could do.
To that point, Stocker was not tearing it up at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. He was hitting for just a .233/.312/.313 slash line with 18 extra base hits in 357 plate appearances. But as was typical to that point, he was fielding the shortstop position flawlessly, and had swiped 17 bases. The hope was that he would solidify the infield defensively and perhaps give the team some spark on the bases.
Stocker’s first big league start on July 7th, 1993 against the Dodgers at The Vet was a memorable one. He took an 0-6 collar at the plate. But the game lasted 20 innings.
In the top of the 9th, the Dodgers had rallied from a 5-3 deficit to tie. Stocker saved the game with a tremendous play to nail the Dodgers’ Jose Offerman at home plate trying to score the go-ahead run.
Jim Eisenreich and Mickey Morandini started the bottom of the 20th with singles, bringing Stocker to the plate. He laid down what was meant to be a sacrifice bunt, but reached safely when the Dodgers’ tried unsuccessfully to cut off Eisenreich at 3rd base as the lead runner. When Lenny Dykstra followed with a ground rule double, the Phillies had a dramatic walkoff victory in a manner for by which that team would become famous.
Stocker was handed the starting shortstop job, and over the next 17 games he would surprise everyone with his offense, delivering for the team big time. In those games, he would hit for a .452/.514/.581 slash line with nine RBI and 11 runs scored.
That hot stretch helped propel Stocker to a rookie season in which he would hit .324 with a .409 on-base percentage. He delivered 17 extra-base hits and scored 46 runs in just 302 plate appearances over the season’s final three months. The Phillies would build up an 11 game lead at one point, and coast home to the NL East crown.
In the National League Championship Series, the Phils went up against the talented Atlanta Braves, who had won 104 games in the regular season. As underdogs, the Phils stunned the baseball world once again, beating back the Braves in six games to capture just the 5th NL pennant in franchise history.
In that NLCS, Stocker hit just .182 with only four hits. But as was typical of him that year, one of those hits was pivotal. Trailing two games to one in the series, and 1-0 in Game 4, Stocker delivered a one-out sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 4th inning off future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, scoring Darren Daulton with a run to tie the game.
Pitcher Danny Jackson would follow with a ground single to center, scoring Milt Thompson to put the Phillies up 2-1. Jackson would then take the mound and deliver with a 118-pitch gem. Mitch Williams closed out the win, and the Phils had tied the series up in Atlanta. They would win the next two games in dramatic fashion as well to reach the World Series for the first time in a decade.
In the six game World Series defeat at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, Stocker would hit just .211 with four hits, scoring and driving in just one run. He was on the field at his shortstop position as Joe Carter drove a pitch from the Wild Thing out to left field in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 6.
Stocker was quoted on that historic moment by Larry Stone of the Seattle Times: “I had gone out for the relay. I thought it was too high, and would drop on the warning track. Inky (left fielder Pete Incaviglia) kept going back. When he put his hands on the wall, I knew it was not good.
Still, he had been everything that Phillies team could have hoped for in 1993, especially from a 23-year old rookie – a vital piece to a pennant-winning ball club. Stocker would finish 6th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting following that freshman campaign.
He followed it up with another solid season the following year, producing a .273 batting average and .383 on-base percentage in 330 plate appearances during the strike-shortened 1994 season. But the team was just 54-61 at the time of the work stoppage.
When baseball returned, neither Stocker nor the Phillies were able to recapture that previous magic. The team went just 69-75 in 1995, while Stocker hit for just a .218 average. In 1996 and ’97, it got even worse, with the team finishing a cumulative 135-189 and in last place both years. Stocker continued as a strong defensive shortstop, and showed more extra-base pop, but was never a significant offensive contributor.
On November 18th, 1997 after five seasons as the Phillies starting shortstop, Stocker was traded to the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for a 23-year old outfielder named Bobby Abreu. It would turn out to be one of the best trades in Phillies history, as Abreu became one of the most productive offensive players in team history over the next decade.
For his part, Stocker became the first shortstop in Rays’ franchise history. He spent parts of three seasons in Tampa before being released in May of 2000. Five days after his release, the Anaheim Angels signed him, and he finished out the season with the Halos. It would turn out to be his final big league season. He would report to spring training with the New York Mets in 2001, but his heart was no longer in the playing, and he would leave before that Grapefruit League ended.
Following his retirement, Stocker moved into the broadcast booth as smoothly as he fielded his shortstop position. He worked in minor league baseball, for CBS Sports, and with the Pac-12 Network, where he remains an analyst today. He was a finalist for the Phillies broadcast booth each of the last two off-seasons, losing out to Jamie Moyer in 2014, and then to Ben Davis a year ago.
In the 2008 World Series, his two main big league teams, the Phillies and Rays, found themselves facing off. Stocker was asked at that time who he was rooting for, and was quoted by Stone: “My loyalties are with the Phillies. They treat their former players great. To this day, they still call and keep in contact.
The feeling is mutual for Phillies fans. Stocker has remained a fan favorite at reunions and other events involving alumni, especially involving that beloved 1993 team. Anyone who lived through that magical summer, an oasis in a parched 14-season losing streak of a desert, will always hold that particular team and its players close to our hearts.

Phillies Fall Classics VIII: 1993 World Series Game Five

It appeared as if the clock was about to strike midnight on the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies worst-to-first Cinderella season. 
After splitting the first two games in Toronto, the Blue Jays had won the next two games at Veteran’s Stadium to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the World Series.
In Game Three, the Jays’ powerful lineup had laid waste to the Phillies, demolishing them by a 10-3 final. 
But what happened in Game Four was even more debilitating to the Phils’ collective spirit.
After the Blue Jays scored three times in the top of the first off Tommy Greene, the Phillies bats decided that they were not going to let Toronto run away and hide again, answering with four of their own off Jays’ starter Todd Stottlemyre.
Through four innings, the Phillies led 8-7 in what was developing as a slugfest. Little did the fans that night at The Vet know, they hadn’t seen anything yet. 
Over the next three innings, the Phils powered their way to a 6-2 advantage, taking an overall lead of 14-9 on the scoreboard.
Up by five runs going to the top of the 8th inning, the Phillies were just six outs away from tying the World Series at 2-2. 
And then the Blue Jays’ bats, silent for most of the previous four innings, finally awoke, and with a vengeance.
Toronto scored six times in that top of the 8th to re-take the lead at 15-14. Just as suddenly, perhaps demoralized by the unrelenting pressure, the Phillies’ bats went silent and scoreless. 
ESPN would rank this 9th on their “10 Greatest World Series Games” list.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, they ended up on the losing end, and so entered Game Five needing to win just to stay alive.

Phillies’ manager Jim Fregosi would send Game One loser Curt Schilling to the mound, where he would be facing off in a rematch with Toronto’s Juan Guzman
In that series opener at SkyDome, Schilling had been staked to leads of 2-0, 3-2, and 4-3, but he was unable to hold any of them.
During the 2013 regular season, the 26-year old power righty had finally begun to emerge as the big-time starting pitcher that he would become over the next decade or so. 
He led the Phillies’ staff with 34 starts, 7 complete games, 235.1 innings, and 186 strikeouts in what was the second of nine seasons in red pinstripes.
On the exact 13th anniversary of the only World Series championship clincher in Phillies’ franchise history, Schilling would deliver the next chapter in my Phillies Fall Classics series.
On a damp, unseasonably mild night in South Philly, Schilling was in command almost from start to finish. He would get in a bit of a jam in the top of the 8th innings, but pitched his way out of it. Almost single-handedly, he would will the Phillies back into this series.
With their young ace firing on all cylinders, it was up to the Phils’ offense to find a way to get to Guzman. 
In the bottom of the 1st, they manufactured a run for an early lead. Lenny Dykstra, the team catalyst all season, led off with a walk and then took off to steal 2nd base. When Toronto catcher Pat Borders threw the ball away, Dykstra ended up on 3rd. He would score one batter later on a ground out by John Kruk, and the Phillies had a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Darren Daulton led off with a double into the left center gap, and came around on a two-out RBI double off the bat of rookie shortstop Kevin Stocker
That lead held, and held, and held, as Schilling and Guzman battled into the 8th with that same 2-0 sitting on the scoreboard.
In that top of the 8th, the Jays’ bats, held to just three scattered hits and three walks to that point by Schilling, finally got to him. 
It was the bottom of the order that got the big righty in trouble, as Borders and Rob Butler each singled to start things off. 
Jays’ skipper Cito Gaston had sent speedy Willie Canate in to pinch-run for Borders, and he had zipped to third base on Butler’s hit.
Now the top of the order came up in the form of future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson
With runners at first and third and nobody out, Henderson grounded back towards Schilling with Canate breaking for the plate. Schilling quickly threw home to Daulton, and Canate was caught in a rundown, Daulton exchanged throws with 3rd baseman Dave Hollins, and Canate was out at the plate.
Schilling still had the tying runs on base. But he first struck out veteran center fielder Devon White swinging, and then got another future Hall of Famer, 2nd baseman Roberto Alomar, on a grounder to Phils’ 2nd baseman Mariano Duncan to end the threat.
In the top of the 9th, with the score still just 2-0 in favor of the Phillies, the Blue Jays would send a trio of dangerous hitters to the plate. 
With Schilling already having thrown more than 130 pitches, Fregosi chose to try to ride his big horse all the way home.
Schilling began by getting Joe Carter on a fly ball to short center field that was handled easily by Duncan. Then he retired John Olerud on an easy grounder to short, Stocker firing to 1st baseman Kruk for the second out. 
The last chance for Toronto was yet another future Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor, and Schilling got him to punch a liner to Dykstra for the final out of the ball game.
The Phillies had cut the Toronto Blue Jays lead in the World Series down to 3-2. They were back in the series, but were still kicking themselves over the big blown 8th inning lead a day earlier. 
Had they put that one away, they would now lead the series. Instead, despite this Schilling gem, the Jays would go home to Toronto just a win away from a 2nd consecutive world championship.
These never-say-die Phillies would not simply shrink away in that Game Six, and would in fact take a lead into the bottom of the 9th. 
However, as every baseball fan now knows, Joe Carter beat Mitch Williams, and Toronto beat the Phillies in the World Series.
But before that happened, Curt Schilling delivered the first in what would be a career full of memorable postseason performances that may some day help him become the only member of that wonderful 1993 Phillies team to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Phillies Fall Classics VII: 1993 World Series Game Two

The 1993 Philadelphia Phillies were not supposed to be contenders, let alone win the NL East Division crown, let alone a National League pennant. 
At least not as far as experts, and anyone who knew anything at all about baseball was concerned as that season began.
Well, at least not as far as anyone except the team themselves, that is.
In my lifetime, I have followed the Phillies through 45 seasons now, since I was a 9-year old kid in 1971. I have enjoyed some great seasons. Ten NL East crowns. Five National League pennants. A pair of World Series championships.
Never in all of those 45 seasons did I follow a single season, from start to finish, that was more enjoyable, more downright fun, than that group of 1993 Phillies. 
Perhaps it was because it was all so unexpected. In 1992, the Phils had finished in last place in the NL East with a 70-92 record. 
That 1992 cellar finish was their sixth straight losing campaign, and made it eight of nine seasons in which the club had not fashioned a winning record.
The Phillies swept the Houston Astros on the road in a three game series to open the season, on their way to winning eight of their first nine games. Their only loss in that stretch left them a half-game out in the NL East race. They would never trail again that season.

By the end of April, the Phillies were 17-5, and had built up a 4.5 game lead in the division. 
By the end of May, they were 34-15, and the lead was up to seven games. At the MLB All-Star break, their record still stood at 57-32, and they led by five games.
Four Phillies were named to the NL All-Star team, including catcher and team captain Darren Daulton and 1st baseman John Kruk, each voted by MLB fans as starters. 
Pitcher Terry Mulholland was selected and became the game’s starting pitcher. Also named to the squad was tough 3rd baseman Dave Hollins.
It was around the break that the team went through its one real rough patch. A win on June 25th had pushed them a season-high 30 games over the .500 mark. 
But from then through July 17th, the club went into a tailspin, losing 14 of 20 games to watch their lead shrink to just three games.
Then, just when many thought the bubble had burst and the clock had struck midnight on their Cinderella first half, the Phillies simply refused to lose for the rest of the regular season. 
That is almost a literal statement. Just twice more would they lose as many as three in a row.
On Tuesday night, September 28th, the Phillies bats exploded for a 10-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, clinching the franchise’ first NL East crown in a decade, and completing their “worst-to-first” turnaround.
Skipper Jim Fregosi would be named the National League Manager of the Year for leading that amazing group that became known as “Macho Row”, as a nod to their tremendous offensive outputs and in a takeoff of the old “Murderer’s Row” of the New York Yankees.
That offensive lineup included All-Stars Daulton, Kruk, and Hollins. It also included outstanding righty-lefty platoons in both left field, with RH Pete Incaviglia and LH Milt Thompson, and in right field with RH Wes Chamberlain and LH Jim Eisenreich.
It also included an exciting center fielder nicknamed “The Dude” or “Nails”, Lenny Dykstra
While he wasn’t an All-Star, he would become the team’s offensive catalyst, and finished 2nd in the National League MVP voting to the great Barry Bonds that season. 
Others of note with the ’93 Phillies included reliever Larry Anderson, who had played with the ’83 Phillies, and closer Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ Williams.
The Phillies met the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS that season. This was in the years when Atlanta was still playing in the NL West, where they were assigned in the wake of the 1969 expansion and would remain until a 1994 realignment which followed another round of expansion in that 1993 season.
The Braves had won their 3rd straight division title that season in what would become a streak of 14 consecutive division crowns. They had won an MLB-high 104 games. 
They were led by a trio of starting pitchers who would all become Baseball Hall of Famers: Greg MadduxTom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
But that 1993 Phillies team was the worst possible opponent for those great Braves pitchers. 
The ‘Macho Row’ group feared no one, and they could work a pitcher like no other team in Phillies’ franchise history. 
They again shocked the baseball world by dispatching Atlanta in six games to win the NL pennant and advance into the World Series.
Waiting in the Fall Classic was yet another dynamic ball club, the defending world champion Toronto Blue Jays. 
The Jays were featured a trio of future Hall of Famers in Paul MolitorRickey Henderson, and Roberto Alomar
They also had one of the game’s best all-around hitters in John Olerud, and one of the game’s top sluggers in Joe Carter.
On the mound, Toronto had a half-dozen solid starting pitching options, including near Hall of Famer Jack Morris, swing man lefty Al Leiter, ex-Phillie Dave Stewart, and shutdown closer Duane Ward.
The Blue Jays broke open a tight Game One by scoring three times in the bottom of the 7th to win by an 8-5 score at SkyDome in Toronto, taking a lead of 1-0 in the series. 
All this sets us up for the next installment in our Phillies Fall Classics feature: Game Two of the 1993 World Series.
Fregosi would send the 30-year old unflappable lefty NL All-Star starter Mulholland to the mound for the big Game Two start. 
Opposing him for manager Cito Gaston‘s Blue Jays was 15-year, 36-year old veteran righty Stewart, who had signed with the world champs after seven strong seasons with the Oakland Athletics, including a 1989 AL Cy Young Award.
The man known as ‘Smoke’ had broken into the big leagues all the way back in 1978 with a Los Angeles Dodgers team that would beat the Phillies in that year’s NLCS
Stewart had also briefly pitched in a dozen games for the Phillies during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
But one thing that played into the Phillies hands with a pitcher like Stewart was that he was right handed. The Phillies lefty-heavy lineup could feast on righty fastballers, and Stewart fit the mold perfectly.
In the top of the 3rd inning with the game still scoreless, Stewart walked both Dykstra and 2nd baseman Mariano Duncan to start things off. It would prove a bad portent of things to come. 
Kruk singled to score Dykstra, and then Hollins singled to score Duncan, and the Phillies were up 2-0.
One batter later, another lefty would land an even bigger blow. Eisenreich, who famously battled the condition known as Tourette’s syndrome, was a tremendous contact hitter, and not known as a slugger. But on an 0-2 pitch, Eisenreich blasted a 3-run homer deep into the stands in right center.
Mulholland would hold on to that 5-0 lead for just one inning. In a foreshadowing of things to come at the series’ end, Carter ripped a line drive 2-run homer down the left field line to put the Jays on the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the 6th, Mulholland retired the first two batters. But then Alomar singled and came all the way around on a Tony Fernandez double, cutting the Phillies lead to 5-3 and finally knocking the Phils’ starter out of the game.
With two of the Phillies first three hitters due up in the top of the 7th as left-handed hitters, Gaston went to his bullpen and brought in 30-year old veteran lefty Tony Castillo
Dykstra made sure that move backfired, blasting a leadoff home run to deep right, making it a 6-3 Phillies lead.
Fregosi had turned to righty reliever Roger Mason to get out of the 6th inning jam, and Mason continued strong by setting the Jays down in order in the 7th. 
In the bottom of the 8th, Molitor led off with a double, and then Mason froze Carter on a 2-2 pitch for a huge out. Fregosi then decided it was time to bring in his closer, Mitch Williams.
Molitor immediately took advantage of the ‘Wild Thing’, swiping third base. He then scored when Olerud lofted a sacrifice fly to right, making it a 6-4 game. Now with two outs, Williams lived down to his nickname, walking Alomar, who then promptly stole 2nd base. But then with Tony Fernandez up as the tying run, the Jays pushed the thievery too far. Alomar took off for 3rd, but was picked off by Williams for the inning’s final out.
Still holding that same 6-4 lead into the bottom of the 9th, Williams walked Fernandez as the leadoff man. He was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Ed Sprague
But the Jays still were bringing them tying run to the plate, this time in the form of catcher Pat Borders.
With the always dangerous Henderson on-deck, Williams induced Borders to roll a 1-1 pitch on the ground to Phils’ rookie shortstop Kevin Stocker. Stocker flipped to Duncan, who turned and fired to Kruk, completing the game-ending doubleplay.
With that 6-4 victory, the Phillies had accomplished their goal of winning a game in Toronto. They would now return to Veteran’s Stadium where they would host the next three games. 
For now, the magic of this season was continuing. But it would take until Game Five before we would reach what will be the next in this featured series, our Phillies Fall Classic VIII.