UPDATE: CONGRATULATIONS to top vote-getters FuquaManual, The Mulv, and orangeandblack20, on your winning entries. Please email me at goodphightblog at gmail dot com with a mailing address so I can ship it out to you.
So a couple weeks back I announced a contest for readers to win a copy of Todd Zolecki's latest book, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Heart-Pounding, Jaw-Dropping, and Gut-Wrenching Moments from Philadelphia Phillies History."
There were several good entries in the "Story about Obscure Phillies" competition, and rather than arbitrarily decide the winners, I felt it'd be more democratic to allow our readers to select them. Please see the entries below, and vote for one!
1. The Dark
My first real baseball memory comes from the Phillies @ Braves game on July 4, 1988. We were in Atlanta, and my absolute favorite player at the time was Dale Murphy, who played for Atlanta but would switch to Philadelphia in 1990. Since it was a July 4th baseball game, naturally there were fireworks at the end of the game. It was a misty, drizzly day, and some unburned rocket fuel was knocked into my eye by the rain. While I was being treated at the care center in the stadium, one of the medics asked me who my favorite player was. I told him I really liked Dale Murphy, and the guy vanished, only to come back a few minutes later with a slightly battered ball with Murphy’s signature on it. I (of course) treasured that ball, but as I got a bit older, I wondered whether it was genuine or if the guy had just stepped out and scribbled on a ball to calm a kid down. Around the time Murph retired, the father of one of my friends (who was aware of my obsession with Dale Murphy) was at some conference and met him. He brought me back a signed Dale Murphy Phillies card – with a signature that matched the ball.
2. David S. Cohen (yes, he works here, but it's a really good story)
I went to spring training with my family in 1984. I was a dorky awkward jewfro-wearing 11 year old kid. (Insert own joke here about how not much changes . . . other than losing your hair.) After one of the games we watched, I was saying hi to the players between the field and the clubhouse. Sixto Lezcano came up to me and was very nice. I chatted with him for a bit and he ended it by running his fingers through my hair and telling me I needed to use more gel to slick it back. If you remember Lezcano’s hair, you’ll realize I was getting advice from the master in this department.
[Not really an entry since I shouldn’t be eligible, but a funny story to tell nonetheless.]
but I have had a bit of a mancrush on him ever since I took my girlfriend to a Phils-Braves tilt in July of 08. This was the game in which Hamels (and some bad defense) gave up 9 runs in the 4th to make it 9-3 Braves. Then the Phils rallied in the 5th by scoring 7 runs, the last 3 of which were as a result of a pinch hit 3 run bomb by Dobbs. The cacophony the crowd made directly after Dobbs crushed that ball remains one of my favorite CBP memories to this day.
A little longer that 200 words, sorry.
I grew up in West Virginia, but I have been a rooting for the Phillies my entire life. My Dad is a lifelong Phillies fan, and he passed his love for them down to me.
Anyway, when I was younger we would take a family vacation to Philadelphia almost every year to see the Phillies play at the Vet. In 1989, (I was 8) we went to see the Phillies play the Cardinals. Thinking back, I was glad to see the Phillies play, but I was bummed because Mike Schmidt retired earlier that year. I would not get to see my favorite player. AND my second favorite player, Juan Samuel, was just traded, and I wouldn’t get to see him either.
My dad explained to me that the Phillies had just traded for a bunch of new players, Randy Ready, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and Roger McDowell. I decided that one of these players would be my new favorite. Kruk was the leading candidate because he was from West Virginia too, but there was something about the name, RANDY READY, that really appealed to me. Ready was going to be my new favorite player.
Needless to say, Ready was nothing more than a subpar utility man. His time with the Phillies was pretty brief, but I remember collecting his cards. I even have some of his cards from when he was with the Padres, and I always pulled for him.
My best memories of Ready don’t come from his play on the field. Ready’s best moments as a Phillie were during the "Kruk’s Korner" segment from the 89 or 90 (can’t remember) Phillies Home Companion Video. Kruk would constantly give Ready shit. I thought Randy had some great responses. In particular, Ready had a chance at an unassisted triple play, but, instead of tagging the runner at second he threw the ball to Ricky Jordan at first for the third out. When Kruk asked him why he threw to first, Randy said, "Well, I wanted to get Ricky involved."
I was at Michael Jackson’s near no-hitter June 7, 1987. I went to that game with my Dad, I was 14. I remember it being strange that no one mentioned it was almost a no-hitter, and even stranger that after the game no networks mentioned it as a near no-hitter either. Admittedly, it was sloppy near no-no, as the gloved one I think ended up walking almost as many people as he struck out.
I felt weird feeling like I was the only person watching near history. Back then I rather naively thought that any pitcher who threw a no-no would be a legend. No I realize that even if MJ hadn’t given up 2 big hits and a run with 2 outs in the 9th, his career still wouldn’t have been much more than a solid reliever who sprinkled in some solid seasons here and there, and bizarrely, only started 2 more games the rest of his career.
Still regarded as one of the best NCAA baseball players, Pete Incaviglia is by many definitions obscure. He is one of 15 major league players to never play a game in the minors. This is due to the fact that after he was drafted by the Montreal Expos, he refused to play in the minors, and was traded to the Rangers. Major League baseball later passed a rule that stated a player cannot be traded until atleast 1 year after he is drafted by a major league team, aka the Pete Incaviglia rule.
I was just 6 years old in 1993, when my mother and die-hard Darren Daulton fan took me to the Granite Run Mall to get an autograph from my favorite Phillie, Pete Incaviglia. As most of you may know, this was the day he cursed out a group of fans and stormed out of the autograph session. Despite not getting his autograph, he remained my favorite Phillie.
When I was about 12 (1999) I attended a baseball summer camp just outside of Philly. One of the perks of the camp was that as a "final trip" all of the campers got to go to the Vet to play ball on the turf, tour the stadium, and get some motivational speeches from a few players.
Scott Rolen gave the speech, and as a budding 3rd baseman myself, I remember being in total awe. In a era of Phillies history that most would like to forget, Rolen was one of the few bright spots. Yet, after his speech he was shuffled off of the field and back into the clubhouse…kinda disappointing.
Anyways, we played a game on the turf, and after I had been taken out to give someone else an AB, I was sitting in the outside of the home dugout when I saw Alex Arias and Desi Relaford walk out of the tunnel and start playing catch along the first base line (there was a home game later that night). I walked over and stood there watching (I remember being amazed by how hard they threw). Then, out of the blue, Arias asked if I wanted to join them. So, of course, I said yes. Every other toss, I stepped in and threw it back to Relaford. We threw and Arias and I chatted for a good 10 minutes though I didn’t say much (still being dumbstruck by the experience of throwing with major leaguers). He did tell me that I had a good arm and that I should stick with it and he signed my glove. I always admired him after that. Incidentally, he also had a pretty decent season that year looking back (in 390 PA, .303/.373/.401). Still kinda an obscure player in the grand scheme of things.
When I was three years old, the Phillies made their 1993 run to the WS (Yes, I know, I’m young, but don’t hold it against me). Anyway, I had the clincher against the Pirates taped, and watched it about 1000 times. I watched it so much from ages 3-5 that I practically memorized the game, so when I found it last year at 18 years old, I took out a score card, and tried to re-create it, and got pretty close. I even remembered the commercials. Long story short, Duncan hits the slam to put it away and the celebration began. We all remember Danny Jackson "pumping it up" in the locker room all the time, but at the end of my video, he was on camera, ripping off his shirt, getting champaign poured on him while the whole team was cheering him "pump it up." From that point on my grandmother would have to keep an empty champaign bottle in her house, and when I came over (I was three so it was before I went to school, and it was every day until kindergarden) she would fill it up with champaign and pour it on me as i did my best (and believe me, it got very good, lol) Danny Jackson impression, ripping off the same shirt (she made it velcro’d down the middle so I could easily rip it off), every day for roughly two years. To this day she has the shirt, the bottle, and video’s of me doing it. On a side note, she tought me how to keep score when I was five, any other grandmoms in hear have that odd ability?
During the first game of CBP (the exhibition game, forget against who) Padilla was pitching. On television Harry Kalas was all sauced/pumped and said "Pitching for the Phils today is Vacenttaaaaaaay Padentaaaaay!". He mis-pronounced Padilla’s name and Padilla came to be known to my friends and I as Vacenttaaay Padentaaay. Man, Padilla was fat.
So, I’m 9 years old, the Phillies are terrible (1990), and my mom takes me to a game at the vet. Not only are the Phils getting blown out by the Pirates, but (eventual Cy Young winner) Doug Drabek is pitching a no-no. Sil Campusano breaks it up with 2 outs in the 9th. I remember actually being just a little disappointed because I didn’t get to see a no-hitter, but I thought it was awesome that Campusano broke it up. He was a terrible hitter, but always stuck in my mind because of that one single hit.
Fast forward 13 years, and I got to see Millwood’s no hitter against the Giants. Another obscure Phillie had a big role – Ricky Ledee. Ledee had a HR and an amazing catch in CF. But, I think Campusano still takes the cake since he broke up Drabek’s no hitter and was actually terrible as opposed to below-average.
11. layout ultimate
When I was about 11 years old, I went to a Red Barons game and waited for over an hour for one signature- that of Bobby Estalella. A man came out who I thought was him, and when I asked for an autograph, saying he was the only reason I had stayed so long (not quite sure why), he gave a false name and walked away. Shortly thereafter, another player told me that Estalella had walked out just ahead of him. Crushed, I went home disappointed. Thankfully, the prick was no longer a Phillie just a little while later, sucked at the plate (.218 career average), and is more well-known for his name being on the mitchell report.
Long time reader of TGP, and I finally decided to post to share my story.
Dave Hollins was toughness personified, from the bottom of his cleats to the top of his buzzcut. He crowded the plate, and when a pitcher threw at him, he watched the ball come in and hit him – no flinching and no shaking it off after being hit; he just went about his business and took his base. Any time there was a confrontation at the mound (and there were a couple with the ‘93 team), Dave was always the first player out of the dugout to throw down.
The day after he was traded to Boston, I was sitting in my dad’s car out front of B terminal at Philly Int’l reading the Daily Times, and his trade was the back page story. I look up from the DT as a limo pulls over in front of me, and out steps none other than Dave Hollins himself! I watched him walk into the terminal and a minute later, my dad comes back from picking up his check. "Dad, Dave Hollins just went in there." "Really?" he says, and opens the glove compartment and pulled out a baseball. "Go get him," he says. I walk into the building alone, approach him in line, and ask him to sign the ball. He was very gracious the whole time, I told him how he was always one of my favorites, and wished him luck in Boston. He thanked me and shook my hand. At the time, it was one of the greatest moments of my life, and it remains one.
I’m sure I was one of the first to call Jack Taschner, "Traschner" when he signed with the Phillies. Funny how it’s hard to smack-talk someone once you have a personal encounter with them. I met several Phillies bullpen arms when a friend and I took a road trip to Washington last year. Instead of autographs I was getting pictures. As the players are coming down the line we’re trying to figure out who a few of them are because we’re not familiar with them enough to recognize them yet. One turned out to be Taschner. When he got to us I asked for a photo and he obliged like the other players. The difference though, was that he stopped to talk to me, not about baseball but about my mutton-chop beard. He commented on having wanted to try the same thing but lamented that he was unable to grow enough facial hair. Like me he was a fan of the Wolverine comic book character. We spent a few minutes talking beards and Wolverine but it was one of the cooler moments I’ve had at the ballpark. And even when he struggled, I never called him "Traschner" again.
14. The Mulv
Living in Clearwater in 1968, I used to run over to Jack Russel Stadium after school and if no other kid was in the dugout, I could jump in and batboy thenhelp the equipment man, Kenny Bush, after the game. One spring afternoon, it began to rain and the game was called. I was clearing out the dugout and hauling equipment to the side entrance to the clubhouse that was under the bleachers. The door was open and as I was approaching, Gene Mauch walked up to the door and stood completely naked (except for shower shoes) in the doorway. I looked at Mauch as he was framed in the doorway as he scanned the cloudy skies. Mauch then looks at me and says, "Still f*cking raining, huh kid?". He then turned and walked back into his office. I stood there a bit stunned then returned to hauling equipment back into the clubhouse.
For those of you who don’t know, Eric Junge pitched 10 games for the Phillies in 2002 and 2003. I guess Topps thought was worthy of a baseball card and made MVP Baseball 2003 think worthy of a roster spot on the Phillies. One day at Dave and Busters i earned enough points to "buy" a pack of baseball cards at the counter and lo and behold, I got a rare Eric Junge card. One Summer day game at the Vet in 03, me and my dad went early to the game to get there for batting practice. I remember the game because my dad caught two batting practice balls along the first base line as i waited for autographs as i always did. As usual, fans tried their best to get the attention of stars like J-Roll, Thome and Burrell, but one pitcher walked by from the bullpen and no one knew who it was, except me. I yelled, "Eric, Eric Junge." He pointed at himself and gave me a look like, "You actually know who i am?" He came over and signed a baseball for me. I’ll always remember that look he gave me for i was probably the only person in the ball park who knew who he was.