clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

From the Archives: Phillies Spring Training 1971

No fried food, long hair, or push-ups.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After their offseason hibernations, it can be a struggle for athletes to get back in the stricter habits of exercise and nutrition required by a team. The Phillies’ current manager Gabe Kapler is almost too well-known for his healthy inclinations from food to exercise to mindfulness and now, nearly all sports teams, not just baseball, hire nutritionists, trainers, psychologists, and more. Every possible profession is represented to make sure the players are at their best in all ways to start the season. But let’s roll back the clock here-- before team flights were catered with the best organic dishes available and locker rooms had freezing cryotherapy machines, there was Dallas Green’s spring training guide.

Nearly fifty years ago, potential Phillies arrived to spring training to a whole different set of regulations. It appears that copies of this guide weren’t just given to the players but to everyone on Phillies staff as well. It included rules of conduct for spring training, a suggested daily menu, exercise diagrams, and of course, inspirational quotes from past athletes.

Signed by Dallas Green for the 1971 season, here are a few of his rules along with others that are just strong “suggestions.”

”...when dealing with 150 or so such men there must be some continuity and consistency or there is a chance of chaos.”

I’m obviously going to agree with anything that connects the idea of men with the concept of chaos but the fact that Dallas Green and his staff felt the need to spell it out means that not only had something happened before but obviously it was clear that the organization was not counting on a quiet spring. That idea is confirmed when the introduction goes on to say “because of last year’s experiences and abuse by some men, no alcoholic beverages will be allowed in the hotel or motel rooms or on the premises.” What happened during the 1970 spring training for the Phillies? I haven’t been able to find out but rest assured myself and a few others are still searching for the reason or reasons that they banned alcohol on the premises.

An addition to the no alcohol rule is the curfew rule, which is a common one for teams traveling during the season at least: Curfew at midnight, lights out at 1 a.m. “No one leaves Clearwater without permission from one of the administrators.” Seems reasonable considering the players were meant to report to the field at 10 a.m. after their meals and weigh-ins.

If the prospects were found to be in need of a diet, they were put on a “suggested” two week special menu which at the very top of the page insists “NO SUBSTITUTIONS” and “NO OMISSIONS” while the bottom declares “Fried foods are harmful!”

”Exactly the same [breakfast] every day of the diet. Every morning 1/2 grapefruit, 1 - 2 eggs and black coffee.”

I’m hungry just thinking about that meal and the other two meals of the day don’t exactly expand upon the first. Monday and Tuesdays lunches are exactly the same as the breakfast. Monday even includes eggs for a third time with dinner although this time the players are allowed to add a salad, one piece of dry toast, and yet another half of a grapefruit. Don’t forget the coffee and enjoy the high cholesterol. At risk of transcribing the entire menu, here are three highlights:

Saturday’s lunch: “Fruit salad-- NOTHING ELSE”

Saturday’s dinner: “Plenty of steak, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, coffee”

Sunday’s dinner: “Cold chicken, tomatoes, grapefruit, coffee”

The menu ends by saying: “Don’t deprive yourself of all of life’s pleasures, but do eat carefully and in moderation.” While little contradictory to everything else on the page, it’s nice that it’s printed on there regardless. I have to imagine it’s something that even Gabe Kapler would agree with when it comes to the health of body and mind.

After attitude and nutrition, the players were to focus on exercise which, judging from by the numerous diagrams, included a lot of stretching with various weights. Touching your toes 25 times three times a week along with leg lifts and running in place are suggested. Don’t have ankle weights for your jog? Don’t worry about it—the guide suggests fashioning some out of fishing sinkers OR buying some from a sporting good store. Either one is apparently acceptable but the fishing sinker one came first so that’s probably the best idea.

”NO PUSH-UPS!!!!!”

It really looks like that-- capital letters, five exclamation points. Amazing. I don’t need to be told twice.

The last thing left on the list is obviously the appearance of the players. The year is 1971 and while the Phillies recognize that they’re in what the guide calls the “era of long hair,” it’s unfortunately not something that they were going to tolerate (not for another season or so, at least).

”The Phillies firmly believe that a proper appearance is very important to a professional baseball player because you represent not only the entire organization but all of baseball as well.”

We all know that those players couldn’t properly represent America’s favorite game with “mustaches, goatees, or untrimmed sideburns or hair.” Can you imagine a ball club policing facial hair in this day and age? How old-fashioned would an organization have to be to do that?

The appearance section doesn’t just reference hair though. It mentions a coat-and-tie dress code in dining rooms and not to “yell back at fans, anywhere, or make remarks to girls.” While these last items seem simple enough and one could even call them just common decency, their inclusion sheds some light onto why the introduction to the guide emphasized a chance of chaos. With that in mind, we really need to ask the question: Are men too emotional to play baseball?

Anyway, thank god baseball is perfect and without any problems now, right? Enjoy the rest of spring training and from the desk of Dallas Green, remember that “your actions are a direct reflection on you, your loved ones, and the organization you represent.”


Quotes from the 1971 Dallas Green spring training guide appear courtesy of the Hagley Museum & Library in Wilmington, Delaware.