As I continue to highlight some of the players who have worn the number eight in a Phillies uniform, we move into the 1980’s where the number was worn by three guys you’ve probably heard of.
I talked about Hall of Famer Chuck Klein wearing the number eight for a season with the Phillies, but in 1983, another Hall of Famer made a stop in Philadelphia and chose to wear the eight.
Joe Morgan is most famous for his time with the Cincinnati Reds where he earned eight (synergy!) All-Star nods and two MVP awards. In 1983, at the ripe age of 39, he joined former teammate Pete Rose in Philadelphia to help form the Wheeze Kids.
Morgan turned in a solid season for the pennant winners, putting up a .773 OPS and 16 home runs. The 1983 World Series didn’t go the Phillies’ way, but it’s hard to blame that on Morgan who hit two home runs in the series.
Philadelphia #Phillies second baseman Joe Morgan hits a HR vs. the Baltimore #Orioles in Game 1 of the 1983 World Series at Memorial Stadium! (Howard Cosell, Al Michaels & Earl Weaver in the booth!) #RIPJoe #MLB #Baseball #History #Postseason pic.twitter.com/4TbVZwLjrG— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) October 12, 2020
Despite that solid season, the Phillies allowed Morgan to move on after the season. They had a top prospect who appeared to be ready to handle the second base job, and not only did he take over Morgan’s position, he also took his number...
After debuting in late 1983, Samuel was handed the second base job, the leadoff spot in the lineup, and the number eight for the 1984 Phillies. Like many players from Dominican Republican, Samuel was a free swinger who rarely walked and led the league in strikeouts four times. But he was one of the fastest players in the league and also had a decent amount of pop for a speedy middle infielder.
Samuel led the league with 19 triples and set what was then a rookie record with 72 stolen bases. In 1987, it looked like he was ready to make the leap to superstardom when he hit 28 home runs and earned the National League’s Silver Slugger award at second base.
In 1988, much like the rest of his team, Samuel’s performance dropped precipitously, both offensively and defensively. His defense had become troublesome enough that the team signed Tom Herr to replace him at second and tried to make Samuel into an outfielder.
The transition didn’t go well, and in June, the Phillies traded him to the Mets in exchange for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Samuel would bounce around the majors for eight more seasons. He earned another All-Star spot in 1991 with the Dodgers, but spent most of his days as a utility bench player.
In 2008, he was placed on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame, and in 2011, he joined the team’s coaching staff where he’d serve for six years.
The same day the Phillies traded Samuel, they made another trade with the San Francisco Giants, sending away Cy Young Award winning closer Steve Bedrosian in exchange for Terry Mulholland, Dennis Cook, and third base prospect Charlie Hayes.
Hayes was called up to the majors later that month and took over third base - as well as the number eight - for the remainder of the season. He performed well enough to finish fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. However, his ability to market the team needed some work:
I’m not sure about his on-camera abilities, but on the field, he never really improved. Perhaps his most memorable moments with the team came in 1990 when he committed an error that cost Terry Mulholland a perfect game, but then made a strong play in the ninth to preserve the no-hitter.
After another lackluster season in 1991, the team wanted to give the job to emerging star Dave Hollins, and traded Hayes to the Yankees. Hayes spent a season in New York before moving to Colorado where the thin air helped his offensive numbers. In the 1995 offseason, the Phillies accepted that Hollins was no longer viable defensively at third base, so they moved him across the diamond, and signed Hayes as a free agent to replace him at third. (Hayes wore 13 this time around since the eight was taken by a player I’ll discuss in the next installment.)
For whatever reason, I’d always refer to Hayes as “Chuck,” and when we adopted a cat that summer, we decided to also bestow that name on the cat. As it turned out, that cat and I never got along all that well, possibly due to my tendency to pick him up, and run around the house singing, “Here comes Chucky Cat.”
Hayes’ son Ke’Bryan currently plays third base for the Pirates and won a Gold Glove this past season. Since the Pirates rarely keep good players once they start to become expensive, perhaps he’ll one day make his way to the Phillies where he can take over his father’s old position, and possibly his number as well.
Next time, I’ll discuss a few other number eights whom you’ve heard of, including one of the most beloved members of the 1993 pennant winners.