Our Chanukah celebration continues as I highlight a few more prominent Phillies to have worn the number eight.
After Chuck Klein left the team, there was a series of mostly nondescript players to bear the number eight for the Phillies. In 1948, the Phillies traded for Dick Sisler, and after spending a season as number six, he switched to eight for the next three years, which included the second-ever National League pennant in franchise history.
Sisler was a lefty-hitting first basemen/outfielder who parlayed his strong on-base skills into a spot on the 1950 NL All-Star team. He authored one of the greatest moments in Phillies’ history when his three-run home run on the final day of the season helped clinch the pennant.
10/1/50: Dick Sisler hit a three run home run in the 10th inning to beat Brooklyn in the last regular season game of the year. The Phillies needed the win to clinch the pennant. pic.twitter.com/CfMQwFJBNn— Did the Phillies Lose? (@DidthePhilslose) October 25, 2022
After the 1951 season, Sisler was included in a multi-player trade with the Reds. One of the players the Phillies received in return was infielder Connie Ryan who inherited Sisler’s uniform number but was not as successful on the field.
He might not have been the greatest Phillie to ever wear the number eight, but infielder Tony Taylor wore it the longest, donning the number for eleven of his fifteen seasons with the team. The Cuban-born Taylor made the All-Star Game in his first season with the team, and although he never returned to the game, he was a dependable middle infielder throughout his time on the Phillies. He held the Phillies’ record for most games played at second base (1003) before it was late broken by Chase Utley.
One of Taylor’s most famous moments was when he made a great defensive play to preserve Jim Bunning’s perfect game. Coincidentally, years later, another Phillies infielder who wore eight would also make a great defensive play to keep a no-hitter intact.
⚾️LENS GEM: Second baseman Tony Taylor makes the defensive gem to save Bunning’s perfect game, a diving stop of Jesse Gonder’s one-out grounder in B5. (Associated Press) #phillies pic.twitter.com/TOjrZKj8Qc— Larry Shenk (@ShenkLarry) June 21, 2020
After his playing career was done, Taylor began a career in coaching, including two stints with the Phillies. For all his accomplishments, Taylor was enshrined on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in 2002.
The number eight went unused in 1972. After a rookie season, spent wearing the number 40, Boone made the switch to eight in 1973, and wore it for the next nine years of his impressive Phillies career. Boone was regarded as one of the better catchers in the National League, making two All-Star teams and earning two Gold Gloves.
Boone was sold to the California Angels after the 1981 season to make way for younger options in Bo Diaz and Ozzie Virgil. (Some believe he was traded because he was a key player representative during the 1981 player’s strike.) The Phillies might have been too hasty to get rid of him as he’d go on to win five more Gold Gloves after he left them.
OTD 1980: Led by player rep Bob Boone, the Phillies vote 40-0 in favor of an @MLB_PLAYERS resolution to strike against the owners, becoming the first team to approve. It would be mid-1981 before the action would finally take place. (Topps 1980) pic.twitter.com/u2c7hUuMfl— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) March 5, 2019
Despite his premature dismissal, Boone is regarded as one of the best catchers in team history, and he was enshrined on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame in 2005. Perhaps his most lasting legacy with the team is being one of only two men to have caught the final out of a World Series victory in a Phillies uniform.
That’s all for this installment. Join us next time as I cover a future Hall of Famer as well as another All-Star to have donned the number eight in red pinstripes.