"I express my thoughts. I'm a screamer, a yeller, and a cusser. I never hold back."
If you grabbed any wretch out of K Lot on a given game day, they might give you the same quote as they squirmed and bit to escape your grasp. The truth is, things have gotten a little tame around the central tailgating hub at the Sports Complex, largely due to the wanton sucking going on in most of the buildings. But for certain screamers, yellers, and cussers, the persona is consistent; merged into every link of their spiteful DNA, and pulsating out with every pump of their frantically beating hearts.
But few people are as simple and thin as a stereotype. Dallas Green was a man who achieved the highest success in Philadelphia sports, becoming known in the end very well for the demeanor with which he achieved it. While it is undeniable that he was inhabited by a screeching baseball demon who periodically took control for months at a time, there are plenty of advocates who - especially now, following his passing - stand up and remind everyone that a man is often quite more than how those of us on the far edges of his impact "know" him. But in many fan perceptions, Dallas Green was the hollering, finger-pointing, player-bashing figure.
Following 2017's thrilling World Baseball Classic, Team USA's Ian Kinsler tried to stain the event by announcing that America's squad had not only emerged victorious, but displayed a better attitude than players from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic who don't hold back when they're enjoying themselves. He claimed later that his comments had nothing to do with race and were actually centered around the issue from which all baseball issues come these days, bat-flipping. The "attitudes" of anyone in any dugout have become such a sad, needless debate. But in the case of Dallas Green, "attitude" had everything to do with the World Series trophy he hoisted. Pretty good, for a guy whose attitude caused one of his players to call him "Hitler."
Newport, Delaware-Born, Green was the blue collar son of blue collar parents who reared him through the Great Depression. He could have been rooting for the Athletics, and also should have been, but chose to suffer along with the Phillies, a far less successful and more racist team at the time. If you bothered to track the Philadelphia fan stereotype back to its roots, Green might have been its origin, so filthy blue was his collar and so awful was his team of choice.
He shot up to 6' 5" at an early age with the awkward arm length that typically accompanies that sort of spurt, and given this was a golden age of nicknames, he got off rather easy with "Spider," according to rumors. Which wasn't bad for a player first spotted by a man named Ruly and scouted by a man named Jocko.
It was Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter who caught sight of Green on a local diamond in 1955, and Carpenter's man Jocko Collins who got the kid to put his name on the contract that yanked him out of the University of Delaware and locked him onto the Phillies' roster. As a pitcher, he was assigned to the bowels of a crappy team's farm system, where he quickly compiled a 10.00+ ERA. Things settled down and Green tossed five consecutive complete games. Somehow, his arm gave out.
Three years later, Green was throwing with the best of the Phillies farmhands in Florida, as well as Satchel Paige for some reason, who was in his fifties*. But the Phillies weren't quite sold on Green that year. Or the next. Or the next. In 1960, with the big league club already 17 games out of first place less than 60 games into the schedule, Green finally got his shot.
Adding to the purity of his Philadelphia legacy, Green probably hated the Mets. He once willed himself to throw over ten innings against them in 1963; and they probably earned some of his ire later in the season when a Mets player hit a home run off him ran around the bases backwards.The Mets were new at this point, their stain on baseball still fresh. Green was one of the first to try and frantically scrub them out, but alas, the Metropolitans set in, disgusting generations of fans to follow.
With the Phillies finally in the playoff picture in 1964, the struggling Green was demoted to Triple A by manager Gene Mauch, where he was kept on ice until September, when Mauch brought him back up to give him a front row seat for one of the worst stretch run collapses in sports history.
Green was lost to an expansion draft the following year, and came and went from the Phillies a couple of times until being named a player/manager for the Reading Phillies in 1966. He eventually became an assistant to farm director Paul Owens, and at some point in this time as he learned how to be a front office-type, he seemingly deduced that the best way to reach players was by screaming at them.
Any one of the players from the 1980 Phillies would attest to this in the future, with catcher Bob Boone even saying Green monitored the number of beers they'd drink after the game. Green would get the managing gig in 1979, and convinced the front office to let him keep the job the following season, much to the chagrin of those local advocates hoping they'd see Whitey Herzog in red pinstripes. "We, Not I," read posters Green hung in the clubhouse, a philosophy he applied to all aspects of baseball except for "cursing yourself hoarse."
A passage from Dallas Green's autobiography, about the 1981 split-season format: pic.twitter.com/jYeX8nmWsR— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) March 22, 2017
"We hated him," Boone said.
Green's response to any general complaint was "grind it out," a phrase used at this point only by him and the commanders of sausage-making facilities. Did Green regret it that he goaded his own team into despising him for their own benefit? Only slightly. After Greg Luzinski called him "Hitler," he probably felt the sting a bit, growing up during WWII and all. But it's not as though guys like Luzinski and Boone and Larry Bowa were bashful players to begin with.
The shouting continued and the spittle flew. Luzinski pointed out that Green played a cute game with pronouns, using "we" when the Phillies won, and "they" when his team lost. They lost twice in one day in early August in a double-header against the Pirates, and Green held an entirely pointless closed-door meeting, during which the flaws in door technology of the time were on display as everyone not in attendance was able to pick up the manager's raucous screeching. Later, the players held their own, much less audible, players-only meeting, and decided they could go all the way without loving Green, and moved on.
They moved through the Astros in the NLCS and through the Royals to win it all in the World Series, and this city couldn't have been more reasonable**.
Ruly Carpenter took the trophy from commissioner Bowie Kuhn and thanked Paul Owens and Green for "the greatest thing that ever happened to [him] in his life."
So in the end, it was probably pretty easy to forget months of abuse for a chance to touch the trophy that would only ever be touched by one other Phillies team (so far). In the end, the anger worked. Which eight of the top 15 most-ejected managers of all time would tell you from their summer homes in Cooperstown.
But in the modern game, as new rules attempt to balance player safety with player playing, angry managers are an uncommon sight. More often than not you'll see a manager jog out to have a conversation to figure out what the hell is going on, or to find out why a play in unreviewable and get only a shrug in return. There will always be dust-kicking and tirades, but Bruce Bochy and Clint Hurdle are the only active ones among those top-15 most-tossed skippers - and Hurdle, at 50 ejections, is actually tied for 15th with... Charlie Manuel. Dallas Green isn't on the list. He directed his anger where it belonged: at his own players. And he wasn't even the only one with a temper. In his autobiography, Green talked about watching his GM Paul "Pope" Owens have a frank exchange of thoughts in a restaurant with former Phillies pitcher Russ "Monk" Meyer:
But in 2017, managers coaxing their players into uniting against him wouldn't last long. When a real problem is detected, teams move quickly to push a manager out, making publicly-known dynamics fueled by spite between players and coaches into "problems to be fixed" not "World Series titles."
Besides, Green wasn't a monster in the rest of his life. His love for his family was always apparent, and while not everyone agreed with his tactics or found him universally agreeable, his congenial relationships in baseball kept him employed. When his nine--year-old granddaughter was killed in the 2011 Tucson shooting, it destroyed him: "...for the first time in my life, I didn't have the words to express how I was feeling," Green wrote in the wake of her murder. The man remains known as a sense of unifying prickliness, but was just as human as the rest of us.
Green proved that they can label us name-callers, battery-throwers, and hate-mongers all they want, but, uh, maybe... hatred works?
As a motivator. Not a lifestyle.
*Paige had been given a contract with the Phillies' Triple A team, the Miami Marlins, whose manager didn't believe he could still pitch and refused to play him in real games. The Marlins owner, longtime Paige advocate Bill Veeck, told the manager to line up his nine starting players. They agreed if Paige could retire them all, he could pitch beyond exhibition games. Paige set them down. In his first start for the Marlins, he threw a four-hit shutout.
Almost a Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the 1980 Phillies, by William C. Kashatus
The Mouth That Roared: My Six Outspoken Decades in Baseball, by Dallas Green, Alan Maimon