Tag Archives: Ryne Sandberg

In January 1982 trade of light-hitting shortstops, the Phillies dealt away a future Hall of Famer

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Sandberg was a 22-year-old prospect in January 1982

This latest installment of the “Phillies Hot Stove History” series was inspired by today’s 66th birthday celebration for Ivan DeJesus. While we may celebrate his birthday, few Phillies fans have ever celebrated the 1982 swap of shortstops that brought him to the team.

In short order this would prove to be one of the worst trades in franchise history. For younger fans who may have heard of the deal but not know how such a thing could happen, let’s take a quick look back at this key “hot stove” moment from the Phillies past.
As always, a little perspective is required to set the stage. At the time of the deal the Phillies were coming off a 1981 season in which they had been dethroned as world champions.
The veteran-laden 1980 Phillies had won the first World Series crown in franchise history. The following season was interrupted by a mid-season work stoppage, and the Phillies would return to the playoffs in 1981 thanks in part to a split-season format adopted by Major League Baseball.
In baseball’s first-ever Divisional Series, the Phillies were eliminated by the Montreal Expos in five games. Following that 3-2 series defeat, Owens looked over his roster and felt that an aging team that had won four of five NL East titles between 1976-80 needed more adjustments.
One key member of that 1970’s core group and 1980 championship team had already been dealt away when left fielder Greg Luzinski was sold to the Chicago White Sox at the end of spring training just prior to the 1981 season.
Owens decided that it was now time to turn the pages on the 36-year-old shortstop Larry Bowa, with whom he was having difficulty reaching agreement on a new contract.

THE GREEN FACTOR

Another pivotal factor in the trade was the man sitting in the General Manager’s seat on the Cubs side of the deal. Dallas Green had skippered the Phillies to that 1980 World Series title. Following the 1981 playoff defeat, Green was hired to become the new GM in Chicago.
Green skippered Phillies to a World Series crown
and 1981 postseason, then became Cubs GM.

Green first raided the Phillies coaching staff, taking John Vukovich and Lee Elia with him. Then in one of this first deals, Green obtained young catcher Keith Moreland and reliever Dickie Noles from the Phillies in a December 1981 trade.

Just over a month later, Green and Owens were discussing another trade. There wasn’t much at the time to distinguish Bowa from Cubs shortstop Ivan DeJesus from one another as a player. Both were light hitters. Bowa had the far greater defensive pedigree. DeJesus was more than seven years younger.
The big factor for Green was that he wanted Bowa’s strong glove, fiery personality, and leadership as the GM instituted his “Building a New Tradition” plan for a franchise that hadn’t been to the postseason since 1945.
On the Phillies side, Owens was looking for a long-term replacement, one where the talent level wouldn’t drop off much, to help keep the club winning. It appeared to be a clean, simple swap at the shortstop position.
However, because of that age difference between Bowa and DeJesus in the Phillies favor, Green insisted that Owens toss in a young infield prospect. With his intimate knowledge of the Phillies farm system, Green had always liked Ryne Sandberg, and insisted on him as the throw-in player as a possible future shortstop. Owens agreed, and the deal was done.

THE THROW-IN

Most in the Phillies scouting department regarded Sandberg, the club’s 20th round selection in the 1978 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Spokane, Washington high school, as a borderline prospect. He could play second base and shortstop, possibly even some third base.
sandberg1-282x400.jpg
Sandberg was a 20th round draft pick who
most felt would become a reserve infielder.

After a less-than-spectacular first full pro campaign with A-level Spartanburg in 1979, Sandberg broke out at Double-A Reading in the Phillies 1980 championship season. That year he hit .310 with 44 extra-base hits, 79 RBI, 95 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases as a 20-year-old shortstop.

As the Phillies took part in that 1981 split-season, Sandberg was enjoying a solid season with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .293 while swiping another 32 bags, earning a September promotion to the big-leagues.
With the Phillies during that month of September in 1981, Sandberg got into 13 games. Seven of those were as a pinch-runner. He also played in five as a shortstop, and another at second base.
Three of Sandberg’s appearances during that cup-of-coffee, including the final two on October 2nd and 3rd, came against the Cubs at Veteran’s Stadium. He also had played short during a game at Wrigley Field in the second game of a September 27 doubleheader.

THE SHORTSTOPS

On January 27, 1982 the deal was concluded. Bowa and Sandberg were shipped out to the North Side of the Windy City, while DeJesus became the new shortstop in red pinstripes. The rest is, unfortunately for the Phillies, baseball history.
Bowa was a 36-year-old, 12-year
veteran at time of the deal.
DeJesus would play three seasons with the Phillies and help the club to win the 1983 National League pennant. That team would lose the World Series in five games to the Baltimore Orioles. Over those three years, DeJesus slashed just .249/.319/.319 with 153 runs scored and 37 total steals.
Bowa spent most of the next three seasons as the Cubs starting shortstop, slashing .247/.296/.308 with 169 runs scored and 30 stolen bases while helping the team to the 1984 NL East crown. Chicago would release him at age 39 in August of 1985, and he would finish out his career playing for a month with the New York Mets.
Seems like a wash at that point. But of course, that was not the whole story. There was the issue of that prospect tossed into the deal. Sandberg quickly proved to be far more than a throw-in.

THE HALL OF FAMER

During his rookie season of 1982, Sandberg became the Cubs starting third baseman. He hit .271 with 33 doubles, 103 runs scored, and 32 stolen bases, finishing sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting.
If the Phillies weren’t already realizing that they had made a grave mistake including him in the trade, Sandberg’s 1983 performance would drive home that point.
In that 1983 campaign, Sandberg scored 94 runs, stole 37 bases, and was honored with the NL Gold Glove at second base. If you thought that his development into a star was tilting the deal way over into the Cubs side at that point, you hadn’t seen anything yet.
The following season he would up his game once again as Sandberg became an NL all-star for the first time. In 1984 he slashed .314/.367/.520 with 19 home runs among 74 extra-base hits, leading all of baseball with 19 triples. He also produced 84 RBI, stole 32 bases, and led the NL with 114 runs scored.
For that performance, Sandberg captured the National League Most Valuable Player award. He also was honored with his second consecutive NL Gold Glove and was awarded the NL Silver Slugger at second base.
Sandberg became an NL MVP and perennial
NL All-Star, Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger
(Photo: Wjmummert)

Over 15 seasons with the Cubs, Sandberg would produce 2,385 hits and score 1,316 runs. He slammed 282 homers, the most by any second baseman in the history of the game at the time of his retirement. He also produced 403 doubles, and 76 triples while swiping 344 bags.

Sandberg won nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1983-91, as well as seven Silver Sluggers during that same period. He was an NL All-Star for 10 straight years from 1984-93.
Sandberg finished his career with a .989 fielding percentage, the highest for a second baseman in baseball history.

He produced 15 streaks of 30 or more consecutive errorless games, and at the time of his retirement after the 1997 season, he held the all-time record of 123 consecutive errorless games by a second baseman.

During his third year of eligibility in 2005, Sandberg was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 76.2% of the vote that year.

As a post-script to this story, Sandberg entered the coaching and managerial ranks following his retirement as a player. Starting as a spring training instructor with the Cubs, he was hired to manage within their minor league system with the goal of becoming the Cubs manager one day.
When that opportunity didn’t come about, Sandberg left to become manager of the Phillies Triple-A affiliates at Lehigh Valley where he became the 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year.
In 2013, Sandberg was back in the big-leagues as the Phillies third base coach. Then in mid-August he was named Manager of the Phillies following the firing of long-time skipper Charlie Manuel. Sandberg would compile a 119-159 record over parts of three seasons before rising the position in early June of 2015.
There have been many trades made during baseball’s “hot stove” months, that late-fall through mid-winter period when teams are positioning their team for the following season, where prospects have been included as supposed “throw-in” players.
Every once in a while a team will hit the jackpot with one of those young players. That was never more the case than with the Phillies-Cubs hot stove trade of Bowa and Sandberg for DeJesus in January 1982.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies Hot Stove History: The 1982 trade of Ryne Sandberg

Chase Utley to retire at end of 2018 season

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Utley tips his cap to fans at Citizens Bank Park in July 2018


The story has been breaking across the internet in furious fashion all afternoon. Chase Utley, the former Philadelphia Phillies all-star and current member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will hold a press conference later today to announce his retirement from Major League Baseball.

The Pasadena-born Utley had first been drafted by his hometown Dodgers in the 2nd round of the 1997 MLB Amateur Draft out of Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California.

However, he chose to attend UCLA on a baseball scholarship instead. In the 2000 Draft, the Phillies made him their first round pick at 15th overall. The rest, as they say, is history.

Utley’s big league debut on April 4, 2003 at Veteran’s Stadium was entirely forgettable. With two outs in the bottom of the second inning and the Phillies already trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates by 6-1 at Citizens Bank Park, manager Larry Bowa called on Utley to pinch-hit for starting pitcher Joe Roa. 

Utley worked a full count, but ultimately struck out swinging against Bucs right-hander Jeff Suppan.
He wouldn’t appear in a game for nearly three more weeks, getting his first start at second base on April 24, 2003 at The Vet against the Colorado Rockies. 

This one would prove far more memorable. Utley hit eighth in Bowa’s lineup that day. He would go 2-4, scoring twice and driving in four runs. It was the manner in which he registered those first four career RBI that was most memorable of all. 

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning and the Phillies already in front 2-0, Utley stepped in with the bases loaded against Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook. He wasted no time, blasting the first Cook offering over the right field fence for a grand slam.


It was just the first of so many thrilling moments in a career with the Phillies that would span parts of 13 seasons. Utley now ranks ninth on the all-time franchise list for games played, at-bats, and hits. He is sixth in home runs and doubles, seventh in RBI, and 10th in Walks.

He was an NL all-star for five straight seasons from 2006-10, and then once more in 2014. Utley also received National League MVP votes each year from 2005-09. He was the NL Silver Slugger Award winner at second base each year from 2006-09.

And, of course, Utley was one of the most important pieces in the Phillies drive to a championship in 2008. His heads-up defensive play in the top of the seventh inning of Game Five of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park is one of the two greatest defensive plays in franchise history.

With two outs and the game with the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays knotted at 3-3, Utley threw Jason Bartlett out at the plate after deking him with a fake throw to first base.



Utley punctuated that championship with a particularly colorful expletive during the club’s public post-parade celebration at the South Philly ball park. It only served to endear him even more to the title-starved multitude in attendance and watching on television.




For a particularly hustling play earlier in his career, Utley had the moniker “The Man” hung on him by legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas. It stuck, and Phillies fans have lovingly embraced him using that nickname ever since.

As that championship team aged and was broken up, Utley’s turn to leave finally came on August 19, 2015. That day he was dealt to the Dodgers in exchange for a pair of prospects, pitcher John Richy and infielder Darnell Sweeney.



Utley has since re-upped with the Dodgers four times on one-year contracts. He now has 1,880 career hits with 259 home runs and 1,025 RBI. He ranks 10th in the all-time MLB career JAWS ranking among second basemen. There is a chance that he at least ties Ryne Sandberg for ninth before Utley retires at seasons-end.

JAWS was created to help measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness. It takes their career WAR mark and averages it with their seven-year peak WAR.

Utley’s JAWS mark is higher than players in the Hall of Fame such as Jackie Robinson, Roberto Alomar, and Craig Biggio. Of the nine players ahead of Utley, seven are in the Hall of Fame. One of those, Robinson Cano, is still active.

That will soon become the debate: is Chase Utley a Baseball Hall of Famer?



One thing is for certain, Utley is going to be enshrined in the coming years on the Phillies Wall of Fame. He will be feted in a ceremony at Citizens Bank Park that just might be the most popular ticket in town in whichever year during the 2020’s that the ceremony takes place.

Phillies fans will get one more chance to say goodbye to Utley as an active player. The Dodgers come to town for a series beginning in just 10 days. That three-game set will take place from Monday, July 23 through Wednesday, July 25. Good seats remain on sale.

Phillies Legend Dallas Green Dies

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies announced the passing of an organizational legend. Dallas Green (82) had been a player, scout, manager, and front office executive with the team.
The Phillies released an official statement announcing the sad news
“We mourn the passing of Dallas Green. The Phillies have lost a great man and wonderful friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
As a young pitcher, Green was 6’4″ and possessed a fastball nearly as big as his height. He was signed for the Phillies prior to the 1955 season out of the University of Delaware by legendary scout Jocko Collins.
Making his big league debut in 1960, Green would pitch in the big leagues for eight seasons. For the first five of those years, Green helped the Phillies go from doormats to near-pennant winners.
Green went 20-22 over 167 games in that stretch, making 44 starts. He compiled a 249/186 K:BB ratio in allowing 602 hits over 528 innings.
Green would appear in parts of three more seasons, one each with the Washington Senators and New York Mets. He then closed out his playing career with the Phillies in 1967.

GREEN’S POST-PLAYING CAREER

Green moved into coaching in the Phils system upon his retirement. Then in 1972 he became the head of the Phillies farm system.
As the Farm Director, Green oversaw the drafting and/or development of many of the players who would form the core of the great Phillies teams of the mid-70’s through mid-80’s.
With the club floundering to a fourth place finish in the 1979 season, Green was called upon by GM Paul Owens to take over as the manager. This was essentially in order to assess the players on the roster. But he was kept on for the 1980 season, and the rest is history.
In 1980, Green drove a veteran, underachieving Phillies team to reclaim the NL East crown. Against the resourceful Houston Astros, he piloted the club to a thrilling comeback victory in five games in what many still consider the greatest NLCS in history.
In the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Green’s squad bolted out to a two games to none lead. The Royals then battled back to even the series up. But the Phils captured Game Five in Kansas City to take a 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic.
Back in Philadelphia on October 21, 1980 the Phillies would down the Royals by a 4-1 score at Veteran’s Stadium. Green had skippered the club to the first world championship in their 97-year history.

GREEN HEADS TO THE WINDY CITY

He left after the 1981 season to become General Manager with the Chicago Cubs. In that role, Green orchestrated one of the most infamous trades in Phillies history. In the deal, Green obtained veteran shortstop Larry Bowa for Ivan De Jesus. But Green also got the Phils to toss-in a minor league infielder by the name of Ryne Sandberg.
Green would raid the Phillies for coaches such as Lee Elia and John Vukovich. He swung trades with the Phils for Keith MorelandDickie NolesGary Matthews, and Bob Dernier.
It all resulted in one big season, with the Cubs capturing the NL East crown in 1984. The Cubs trounced the San Diego Padres by 13-0 in the 1984 NLCS opener. Then they moved out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. But the Friars roared back to take three straight and win the series.
The Cubs never recovered, disappointing their fans over the next three seasons. Green, who had by then become club President, would resign following the 1987 campaign.
But during his tenure on the North Side, Green continued to do what he does best. He rebuilt the Cubs farm system from top to bottom. During his time the club added prospects such as Greg MadduxJamie Moyer, and Mark Grace.

OFF TO THE BIG APPLE

Green was hired as the New York Yankees skipper for the 1989 season. But the Yanks went just 56-65, and Green’s fiery personality clashed with owner George Steinbrenner. He was fired by Steinbrenner with the team in last place.
In 1993, Green was back at the helm of a team in the Big Apple, hired as the Mets manager. He would last for parts of four seasons, compiling a 229-283 record. His 1995 club would finish in second place in the NL East, but with a losing record.
That would be Green’s final big league managerial opportunity. Overall between his time with the Phillies, Yankees, and Mets he compiled a 454-478 record in parts of eight seasons.

RETURN TO PHILADELPHIA

He was then hired back with the Phillies, and would remain in the club’s front office from that point forward. Green served as an advisor to the club’s General Managers, including Ed Wade, Pat GillickRuben Amaro Jr, and most recently to Matt Klentak.
Phillies
Per Frank Fitzpatrick for Philly.com, the local members of the Baseball Writers Association of America established the Dallas Green Special Achievement Award for meritorious service by a player or other member of the organization in 2004.
In 2006, Green was elected to the Phillies Wall of Fame. There he joined his former GM and mentor Paul Owens, as well as his 1980 players Mike SchmidtSteve CarltonTug McGrawGreg LuzinskiGarry MaddoxBob Boone, and Larry Bowa. Vukovich would be so honored a year later.
In his excellent piece, Fitzpatrick quoted Bowa, who played under Green, and became the Phillies manager and a coach with the team during his later advisory tenure:
“Dallas was what Philly is all about: toughness, honesty, and fairness. Without Dallas, the Phillies would not have won the World Series in 1980…He was a huge impact on my career as a player, manager, and coach. He will truly be missed.”

MY PERSONAL FEELINGS ON GREEN

I was a 17-year old Phillies fan when Green took over from former skipper Danny Ozark in that 1979 season. I recall not being happy with the move at the time, thinking that Ozark was being cast aside for one bad season after helping turn the Phils into perennial division favorites.
But I came to respect Green, and to see the difference that his confrontational, no-nonsense, combustible style meant to what had become a complacent group of talented Phillies players.
We don’t always like people who tell us what we need to be told, when that is a difficult truth to hear. Green was never afraid to give anyone the honest truth. And his judgement was rarely wrong.
Starting in 1955 and continuing over much of the next six decades, Dallas Green was a vital part of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
He will always be remembered in this town as a Phillies legend. May he rest in peace, and may his family and close friends find comfort in this difficult time of loss.

MLB 2016 Prediction: First Manager Fired

While all of the predictions to this point have been for positive accomplishments, such as the teams favored to win a division or the World Series, or an individual picked to win one of baseball’s major awards, this time around we will be looking at an inevitable negative feature of every single MLB season – the first manager to be fired.
During the calendar year of 2015, five different MLB skippers were either fired or resigned. 
The unfortunate winner of this “first to be fired” race a year ago was Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who was fired from his post on May 3rd. Roenicke had led the Brew Crew into his 5th season, and had a 342-331 record.
During Roenicke’s first season he guided the Brewers to a 96-66 record and a first place finish in the NL Central Division. The effort saw Roenicke finish 2nd in the NL Coach of the Year voting that season. 
But the Brewers then dropped to become basically a .500 team over the following three seasons, and were off to a miserable 7-18 start last year, leading to his dismissal.

MLB had to wait just two weeks for the next head to roll, when Miami Marlins skipperMike Redmond was let go in South Florida in just his 3rd season. 
The Fish had gone a combined 139-185 over his first two years, and were off to a 16-22 start a year ago when he was canned.
That was it for the 2015 season, at least as far as managers actually being fired during the season. 
As we all well know here in Philadelphia, it was not all as far as managerial changes would go. Ryne Sandberg resigned on June 26th with a 119-159 record over parts of three seasons.
Both Matt Williams of the Washington Nationals and Lloyd McClendon with the Seattle Mariners were let go during the first days of October once the 2015 regular season had ended, each after following up strong 2014 campaigns with a disappointing season a year ago.
In a TBOH staff vote to determine who we believe will be the unfortunate “first manager to be fired” this time around, only Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox received two votes.
Now in his 5th season, Ventura has not won since he first year back in 2012, and comes into the season with a career 297-351 managerial mark. 
The Chisox have added some big name veterans and are competing in the city against the dynamic young Cubs, putting even more pressure on him.
Six of the other managers receiving a vote from our writing staff were Walt Weiss of the Colorado Rockies, Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves, Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics, Chip Hale of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Craig Counsell, who was Roenicke’s successor in Milwaukee.
My own vote went to Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, with this reasoning. 
The 57-year old is now the managerial dean, now in his 17th season with the Halos. He has a career 1,416-1,178 managerial mark, and has skippered the club to a half-dozen AL West crowns. In 2002, Scioscia guided the club to the only World Series championship in franchise history.
However, it is rare that a manager lasts forever with a team, even a highly successful one. 
Even Sparky Anderson, manager of the Big Red Machine dynasty in Cincinnati during the 1970’s eventually moved on to Detroit, where he continued and finished out his brilliant managerial career.
Scioscia’s team is competing now as the presumptive third wheel team in the division behind the growing Texas rivalry between the Rangers and the Houston Astros. There is growing competition from the Seattle Mariners as well.
Beyond Mike TroutAlbert Pujols when healthy, and defensive whiz shortstopAndrelton Simmons, there is little to like about the current Angels team, who have started off 0-2. 
The show is going to end for Scioscia at some point out in Disneyland, and I would not at all be surprised to find that 2016 is the year. 

Philography: Larry Bowa

Embed from Getty Images

Bowa has seen it all with the Phillies over the last half-century as a player, coach, manager, and club advisor

 

From his very first moment in front of Phillies scouts as a teenage ballplayer in California right through the current day, Bowa has been a fiery, emotional, heart-on-his sleeve, hard-working, straight-talking, blue-collar player and coach, the type that Philly fans have always embraced.

His father, Paul Bowa, had been a minor leaguer in the Saint Louis Cardinals system during the 1940’s, and a player-manager in that Cards’ system in both 1946 and 1947. Much as his future son, and in contrast to a grandson who would also reach the big leagues, Nick Johnson, Paul was a speedy, slick-fielding infielder.

In the off-season prior to his father’s debut as a  manager, on December 6th, 1945 in Sacramento, California, Larry was born. By the early 1960’s, the scrawny Bowa was trying out for the team at McClatchy High School in Sacramento. He would never make the team in the entirety of his high school days.

It was very disappointing. The reason they gave me was not because I wasn’t good enough but because I was too small,” Bowa told saccityexpress.com early this month.

 “I used to watch little guys play in the big leagues, and I figured it doesn’t matter how small you are. As long as you play the game right, you have a big heart, and you’re willing to sacrifice, I think anything is possible.

At Sacramento City College, Bowa finally broke through, becoming the starter at shortstop. With a slick glove, soft hands, and a strong arm, Bowa was the prototypical great fielding, light hitting middle infielder. He was expected to be selected in the 1965 MLB Amateur Draft process, but was passed over.

MORE FROM THAT BALLS

The Philadelphia Phillies had been the one team to show any real interest. The club sent one of their top scouts, Eddie Bockman, to watch Bowa play in a doubleheader.

Bockman got the first taste of what all of Philadelphia would learn in the coming years when Bowa was thrown out of the first game for arguing with the umpire, and then again tossed out before the 2nd game could even begin.

Still, Bockman had seen and heard enough. He convinced the 19-year old to play for a fall league team in the area. Bowa impressed, and was signed by the Phillies as a free agent on October 12th, 1965.

In his first professional season in 1966, Bowa was fantastic with the Phillies’ A-level team at Spartanburg. He hit .312 with 70 runs scored and 24 steals in 453 plate appearances over 97 games, earning a late-season promotion all the way to AAA San Diego.

Too young for a full shot in AAA, Bowa was sent back in the Phillies system the following year. Over the next three seasons, Bowa rose incrementally back through the minors, again reaching AAA in 1969, this time at Eugene. He hit .287 with 80 runs scored and 48 steals across 608 plate appearances. He also continued the tremendous defense at shortstop that was becoming his hallmark.

It was obvious that Bowa was ready defensively for the big leagues by the late 1960’s. With his offensive game advancing, it was time to promote him to Philadelphia.

The Phillies already had a young shortstop named Don Money who had seen his own first full season of action in the big leagues in 1969. Club management made the decision to move Money and his more classic power bat over to 3rd base, opening up shortstop for the better fielder in Bowa.

In 1970, in the franchise’ final season at Connie Mack Stadium, Bowa opened the year as the Philadelphia Phillies starting shortstop. He would hold that job for a dozen seasons.

In his second career game in the Majors, on April 9th at home against the Chicago Cubs, Bowa sliced a one-out single to left field off Ken Holtzman for his first career big league hit.

Then with the Phillies trailing later in that game by a 3-1 score, Bowa came to bat with a man on first base and nobody out in the bottom of the 7th, and delivered a double for his first extra-base hit. One out later, with the club still trailing 3-2, Deron Johnson cranked a 2-run homer, scoring Bowa with his first career run.

Bowa came in third in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting following a 1970 season in which he hit .250 with 24 steals. He opened eyes with his defensive play and fiery temperament as well.

When the Phillies opened the brand new Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on April 10th, 1971 against the Montreal Expos, Bowa singled to right off Bill Stoneman for the first hit in the history of the ballpark.

Money would homer in the bottom of the 6th, the first home run in the history of The Vet. Then in the bottom of the 7th, Money’s sacrifice fly scored Bowa with an insurance run in a 4-1 victory behind future Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, the first-ever win for the team at Veteran’s Stadium.

In 1972, Bowa would win the first of two career Gold Glove Awards, a travesty since he was clearly a better defender during the 1970’s than Cincinnati’s Dave Concepcion, who won five Gold Gloves during the decade.

But the Reds shortstop was a far stronger offensive player, something that appeared to regularly be factored by voters in those days. Bowa would win his 2nd Gold Glove in 1978.

Meanwhile, things began to change around him. The Phillies had begun the decade, and Bowa’s big league career, as a big loser. They dropped 88 games in 1970, which would prove to be their best season of his first four.

But in 1972, the Phillies traded for a future Hall of Fame starting pitcher in Steve Carlton. Meanwhile, more of Bowa’s fellow homegrown prospects began to reach and make their mark in a Phillies uniform.

That group included slugging outfielder Greg Luzinski, catcher Bob Boone, and most especially a powerful 3rd baseman by the name of Mike Schmidt, who debuted in late 1972 and then took over as the starter at the Phillies ‘hot corner’ from Money in 1973.

With that core leading the way, the Phillies became contenders from 1975 onwards. Bowa became an NL All-Star for the first time in 1974 for an improving Phillies club that finished 80-82. His appearance in that Mid-Summer Classic would be the first in a run of five out of six All-Star seasons for Bowa.

In 1976, the Phillies won the first of three straight NL East crowns. The team would win a franchise-record 101 games in both 1977 and 1978. Bowa received National League Most Valuable Player votes every year from 1975-78, and finished 3rd in that NL MVP voting for a ’78 season in which he hit .294 with 31 doubles, 24 steals and won that 2nd Gold Glove.

However, Bowa and his teammates kept falling short in the postseason. Underdogs in 1976 to the Reds, the Phillies were stunned as favorites in both 1977 and 1978, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series each October.

In 1979, despite the addition of living legend Pete Rose as a free agent, the Phillies finished a disappointing 4th in the NL East. At 33 years old, Bowa hit just .241 with 20 steals, the lowest total he had swiped in six years.

When 1980 began, the Phillies veterans were on notice from manager Dallas Green that they either had to produce something big, or the core of the team would be broken up and dealt away.

Produce something big they would, but it wouldn’t be easy. The club fought the tough defending World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates and a young, emerging Montreal Expos team into the final weeks. They shook off the Bucs in early September, but battled those Expos to the final weekend before finally capturing their 4th NL East crown in five years.

The 1980 National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros is considered by many to be the greatest NLCS in history. The Phils won the first game by 3-1 with a late rally, and the next four games all went to extra innings. The Phillies took the final two games in dramatic style on the road in Houston to bring home the franchise’ first National League Pennant in 3o years.

In those 1976-78 NLCS defeats, Bowa had hit just .209 with 5 runs scored in 11 games. But in the 1980 NLCS victory, Bowa finally rose to the occassion, hitting .316 with a .409 on-base percentage.

In the decisive 5th game, 8-7 comeback victory, it was Bowa’s leadoff single to center field with the club trailing 5-2 that started a 5-run rally against future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

In the World Series against Kansas City, Bowa hit .375 with three runs scored. In the 6th and deciding game at The Vet, he doubled with two outs in the bottom of the 6th, then scored on a base hit by Boone to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead. They would hold on against a late Royals’ rally to win 4-1, clinching the first world championship in the 98-season history of the franchise.

Bowa would have a bounce-back year in 1981, hitting .283 as the Phillies won the first half NL East crown of what turned out to be a strike-shortened, split-season format.

But in the frustrating 3-2 loss to the Montreal Expos in a first-ever NLDS, Bowa hit just .176 with three hits in what would prove to be his final five games in a Phillies uniform as a player.

For the 1982 season, Bowa would be reaching 36 years of age. His bat was clearly slowing, and his defense, while still excellent, was a tad below its former Gold Glove status. Bowa was aging, and the Phillies looked to cash in before it was too late.

On January 27th, 1982 the Phillies sent Bowa and a 22-year old third baseman named Ryne Sandberg to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 29-year old shortstop Ivan DeJesus.

The 1982 Phillies, with DeJesus at short, fell just short. The club finished three games behind the Saint Louis Cardinals in the NL East race. Meanwhile, the Cubs with Bowa finished 19 games out in 5th place, with Bowa hitting for just a .246 average.

In 1983, the Phillies aging ‘Wheeze Kids’ got hot in September, and again won the NL East crown for a sixth time in eight seasons, counting their half of 1981. The Phils then gained a measure of revenge over the Dodgers for the 1977-78 NLCS defeats, taking down Los Angeles to reach the World Series.

They came up short in that Fall Classic, losing in five games to future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr, Eddie MurrayJim Palmer, and the Baltimore Orioles. However, the Cubs again finished in 5th, 19 games out again, with Bowa hitting for just a .267 average.

At that point, it appeared as if the Phillies had won the January 1982 trade. DeJesus had provided the Phillies with two solid seasons at shortstop heading into 1984, when he would still be just 31 years old. The club had continued to win, and was coming off a National League Pennant, while the Cubs lost big.

Meanwhile, Bowa would be turning 38 years of age for the 1984 season. However, something unexpected was also happening. The throw-in of that apparent 1982 shortstop swap, Sandberg, was emerging as a real player.

In 1982, Sandberg finished 6th in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. The Cubs then switched him from 3rd base to 2nd base, and he won a 1983 Gold Glove. It was only the beginning of what would become a Hall of Fame career.

In 1984, Bowa and the Cubs, with Sandberg leading the charge, won the NL East crown. Meanwhile, the Phillies faded to 4th place, 15 1/2 games out. Sandberg became an NL All-Star for the first time, won another Gold Glove, added a Silver Slugger Award, and capped it all by being named the National League Most Valuable Player. So much for winning the trade.

The Cubs would lose a tough NLCS in a full five games to the San Diego Padres and their own emerging future Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn. In that series, Bowa hit just .200 with three hits and a single run scored.

As the 1985 season got underway, the 39-year old Bowa was pushed to backup status by 22-year old rookie Shawon Dunston. The Cubs finally released Bowa in mid-August after a little more than three years in the Windy City.

Bowa signed exactly one week later with the New York Mets, and would play in his final 14 big league games in a Mets uniform. Included in that stretch was an 0-3 performance on September 24th against the Phillies in what was his final game as a player in front of Philly fans at Veteran’s Stadium.

On October 6th, 1985, Bowa played the entire game at shortstop for the Mets in what would be his final big league game, a 2-1 loss to the Expos. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Bowa singled to leadoff against Expos pitcher Dan Schatzeder for what would be his final career hit.

Also appearing in that same game for New York, going 0-4 as the leadoff man, was Bowa’s teammate, a 22-year old rookie center fielder by the name of Lenny Dykstra.

MORE FROM THAT BALLS OUTTA HERE

A free agent following the season, Bowa elected to retire. He finished his Major League Baseball career with 2,191 career hits across 16 big league seasons, with a .260 career average, 987 runs scored, and 318 stolen bases.

At the time of his retirement, Bowa’s defensive excellence was reflected in the all-time Major League Baseball record books. His .980 career fielding percentage was the all-time MLB record until broken decades later by Omar Vizquel. His National League fielding percentage and games played records at shortstop would finally be broken by Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

On the Phillies all-time franchise leaders lists, Bowa is currently 4th in Games (1,739), 4th in At-Bats (6,815), 6th in Hits (1,798), 14th in Runs (816), 7th in Triples (81), and 6th in Steals (288).

Bowa was always considered a smart baseball man and a leader, and with those traits and his experience, he did not remain unemployed for very long. The San Diego Padres organization hired him as the manager of their AAA Las Vegas Stars affiliates for the 1986 season. He guided the club to an 80-62 record and the Pacific Coast League championship.

Impressed with his performance, and with a number of his young players coming up to the big leagues, the Padres made the move to hire Bowa as their manager of the big league club on October 28th, 1986.

Bowa would not find success in his first shot as a big league skipper in San Diego. The Padres went just 65-97 in his lone full season of 1987. When the club began 1988 began with a 16-30 record, Bowa was fired.

Again, he was not out of the game for long. In August of that same season, the Phillies hired Bowa to be their 3rd base coach, a role that he would hold for eight years through 1996.

In 1993, as the Phillies won the franchise’ 5th NL Pennant and advanced to the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, Bowa and longtime friend and former Phillies teammate John Vukovich became the first two men to reach the Fall Classic with the organization as both players and coaches.

After the 1996 season, Jim Fregosi was let go as the Phillies manager, and Bowa interviewed for the position. Though a fan favorite for the job, the team instead chose to go with one of the game’s leading young minor league managers, Terry Francona.

Bowa left for the Anaheim Angels, taking their 3rd base coach position, which he held for three years. He then moved north to coach 3rd base for the Seattle Mariners in the 2000 season.

With Francona fired following that 2000 season, the Phillies managerial position was again open. This time Bowa got the job, officially hired to manage the team on November 1st, 2000.

Bowa was taking on a huge challenge. The Phillies had won just 65 games in the 1999 season, finishing tied with the Cubs for the worst record in baseball. They had losing records in the previous seven seasons, and in 13 of the previous 14 years.

In Bowa’s first season of 2001, he guided the club to an 86-76 mark, finishing in 2nd place in an NL East battle with the Atlanta Braves by just two games. Bowa was particularly influential in helping introduce the team’s talented new shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, to the world of Major League Baseball.

The Phillies under Bowa appeared to be a rising team, but the 2002 club finished a frustrating 80-82 in what would be their last losing campaign for a decade. In 2003, the Phillies rebounded to win 86 games as the club said goodbye to Veteran’s Stadium, which Bowa had christened with his single 33 years earlier. Then in 2004, in the first season at Citizens Bank Park, the Phils won 85 games.

But despite being in the playoff hunt during three of his four seasons at the helm, the Phillies under Bowa just didn’t seem to be able to get over the hump and actually capture a division crown. He was fired with two games remaining in that 2004 season, finishing with a record of 337-308 as the Phillies skipper.

The following season, Bowa spent the full year out of uniform for the first time since he was five years old. He was not totally out of the game, however. He spent that 2005 season as an analyst on the “Baseball Tonight” TV program with the ESPN network.

I CONSIDER MYSELF A BASEBALL LIFER” ~ BOWA

Longtime friend Joe Torre then hired Bowa to be his 3rd base coach with the New York Yankees for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. When Torre left the Yanks to become skipper of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bowa followed him as the 3rd base coach in LA, and was coaching 3rd for both of the Dodgers teams that were eliminated in the NLCS by the Phillies in 2008 and 2009.

When Torre retired after the 2010 season, it was back to the TV studios for Bowa. This time he worked with the new MLB Network, where Bowa would serve as an analyst for three seasons.

During those same seasons, Bowa also got reacquainted with the Phillies organization, working as a post-game analyst for some of the club’s local broadcasts with the WPHL station.

When Torre was named as the manager of Team USA for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Bowa again returned to uniform as his bench coach. That stint led directly to Bowa being named to that same bench coach role with the Phillies in 2014 alongside his former Cubs teammate Sandberg.

Loyalty is one of the traits that has made Bowa most appreciated by men like Torre and Sandberg. When Sandberg came under fire early in the 2015 season for an apparent laid back personality, Bowa came to his defense in an interview with CSNPhilly.com insider Jim Salisbury:

This guy competes. I was with him. I played next to him. When he made a good play, when he hit a home run, his personality was the same. He doesn’t get too up; he doesn’t get too down. He’s very patient and he better be patient with what we’re doing right now and he is. That’s all I’m saying.”

“If people think he has to throw a Gatorade to show he cares … trust me, he cares. He cares as much as any human being that’s putting on that uniform…There might be some guys who want to win as much as him, but nobody more than him.

In the last couple of months, Bowa was a leading contender to become the manager of the Miami Marlins. Despite receiving two interviews, he was passed over for that job in favor of Don Mattingly, and is slated to once again be the bench coach for skipper Pete Mackanin in the 2016 season.

This past season was Bowa’s 50th season in professional baseball, and he has lost none of his passion for the game after that half-century. He turned 70 years of age just last week. Back in spring training in March of 2015, Bowa was interviewed by Philly.com’s Bob Brookover, and spoke about why he keeps on doing it.

I still have a lot of fun doing it,” Bowa said. “You can talk trash. Spring training is probably the hardest time because I’m there at 5:30 in the morning . . . and then once the games start I probably don’t get home until 6:30 or 7 at night. I’m in bed by 9.” He later hinted at when he might actually walk away from the game: “I consider myself a baseball lifer,” Bowa said. “Just like Don Zimmer.

Bowa has indeed been a baseball lifer, and the vast majority of that life has been in a Phillies uniform. His first season came in the team’s last at Connie Mack Stadium. He had the first hit in Veteran’s Stadium history. He was the shortstop for the first Phillies team to win a World Series. Manager of last team at The Vet, and then of the first team at Citizens Bank Park.

In 1991, almost a quarter of a century ago now, Bowa was selected to the Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame. Few men have deserved that honor more. Back in 1965 when a Phillies scout was watching that teenage Bowa get thrown out of both games of a doubleheader, no one – no one – could have ever seen any of it coming.