January 2012

Tug in Cooperstown?

Always welcome comments to Phillies Insider.  Thanks to Brian Slattery for his  comment last week:

“Speaking of Hall of Fame and veterans and all….

“What would it take to get enough fans from both Philadelphia and New York to push for the Tugger (Tug McGraw) to be inducted to Cooperstown by the veterans committee? 

“I know that he didn’t make the cuts when he was on the regular Hall of Fame ballots 20+ years ago, but you can’t avoid the fact that Tug is one of the few players who remains beloved in both Philly and New York.  He was part of World Series champion teams for both teams.  I also make the argument that one of the reasons that players are inducted to Cooperstown is for bringing character to the game.  C’mon…Frank Edwin McGraw was undeniably one of THE GREAT characters in baseball!!!”

Brian, you are correct in that Tug was one of the great characters.  Whether he is a Hall of Famer, I don’t know, and he was a good friend.  Appreciate your beating the drum for him.

Checked out the Hall of Fame voting and Tug was eliminated after receiving only six votes in his first year on the HOF ballot, 1990. 

Then, there’s Larry Bowa, who was also eliminated in his first year on the ballot, 1991.  He had 11 votes.  I’m not saying he’s a Hall of Famer but when you compare his numbers with HOF shortstop, Phil Rizzuto, well, you be the judge:

Bowa: 16 years, 2,247 games, 2,191 hits, .260 average, 10,382 total chances on defense, 211 errors.

Rizzuto: 13 years, 1,661 games, 1,588 hits, .273 average, 8,148 total chances, 263 errors.

The Veterans Committee no longer exists. Did check with Brad Horn, Senior Director of Communication and Education, at the Hall of Fame and received the following information:

“Both players (Tug and Larry) remain eligible in perpetuity for the Expansion era ballot. In order to be considered, one must emerge on the final ballot of 12, which is set by the 11-member Historical Overview Committee of the BBWAA. Then, if they make the ballot, they would have to earn 75% of the 16-member voting committee. The expansion era next meets at the winter meetings of 2013.”

It will be interesting to see how the BBWAA 11-member committee views Tug and Larry.

Answering E-mails

Time to check the e-mail bin………………..

Jason sent us an e-mail last week: “Is Mike missing his ring?”  Jason included a link to ebay which had a 1980 Phillies World Series ring for sale with the name Schmidt on it.

Thanks for the e-mail Jason. No, Mike still has his ring.  Manufacturers often times have sample rings that can surface for sale.  Best guess is that’s what happened in this case.

Marge sent an inquiry: “I have a Shibe Park doubleheader paper type of poster, April 26, 1943.  The Fighting Phillies vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The poster has pictures of Roberts and Simmons.  Simmons is wearing a Phillies shirt with the “h” missing.  Why is that?”

Unfortunately, Marge, we have no idea.  It would be helpful if we could see the photo.  Perhaps that would shed some light but can’t say for sure.  Our photo files from 1943 are basically empty so we having nothing with which to compare.

Then, there’s an e-mail from Jeff: “I hope the Phillies consider developing a Golden Era committee to consider Wall of Fame inductees overlooked by fans. The longer removed the more forgotten.  I would like to make a case for Ron Reed during the Phillies great run in the 1970s and 1980s comparing him to the Phillies best relievers of all time.  Ron was as valuable as any Phillies pitcher during that era.”

Appreciate your thoughts, Jeff, and your feelings about Ron, whom we affectionately call “Slinky” or “Bigfoot.”  You are correct in that his numbers are pretty impressive, pitching numbers that is, not his shoe size.

Since 2005, the Wall of Fame ballot as appeared on phillies.com every spring training.  Fans get to vote.  The top five are then presented to a special Wall of Fame committee that consists of media, team officials and Phillies historians.  One player is selected each year.  That’s how the process works.

“Bigfoot” has been on the ballot every year but 2008 and 2009. When he didn’t receive a lot of votes, we took him off the ballot.  But, he’s been on the ballot since and will again be there next month.

It seems as if middle relievers or setup relievers didn’t get as much attention or credit as closers.  “Bigfoot” and Gene-o (Gene Garber) were great relievers in that era you mentioned but Tug was the closer and he was in the spotlight, right or wrong. 

Today’s game has a lot more focus on setup specialists than 30-40 years ago. Closers have gotten elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame but middle men are still on the outside in Cooperstown.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the fan voting turns out this year.

You mentioned a Golden Era committee.  We have considered a Veterans Committee, ala Cooperstown, for deceased Phillies such as Jim Konstanty, Jimmy Wilson, Pinky Whitney, Roy Thomas, Fred Luderus, just to name a few.  Our annual Wall of Fame induction ceremony has become a fan favorite and it is difficult to induct someone no longer living.  But, perhaps we can add a deceased player once in a while.  Welcome your thoughts.




Andy Musser, Ultimate Pro

Still numbed by the loss of Joe Paterno, more sad news came today when we learned that friend Andy Musser had also passed away on Sunday.

Andy grew up in the Harrisburg area and was a big Phillies fan as kid, listening to the games on the radio.  By Saam was the Phillies No. 1 broadcaster back then.  Andy would write to By for advice and always received an answer.

In 1976, By Saam retired and was replaced in the radio booth by Andy Musser.  The pupil replaced the professor.  Very fitting.

By Saam was the ultimate professional baseball announcer and Andy followed in the same shoes.  Neither got too high during good times or too low during the tough times.   While Harry and Whitey got all the acclaim on TV, Andy rolled along for 25 years in the radio booth. He knew and accepted his role. 

Wherever there was a radio, Andy was there every game every season for 25 years.  He unplugged his microphone after the 2001 season.

In the summer of 2008, I wrote a Phillies Magazine story on Andy.  I asked him for his five favorite moments behind the Phillies microphone:

**“He buried it.  He buried it,” was his most famous call.  It came on October 4, 1980, when Mike Schmidt hit a game-winning home run in Montreal to clinch the Eastern Division title.  “I had never used that expression before.  It just came out and I don’t think I ever used it again.”

**Calling Schmidt’s 500th home run in Pittsburgh, April 18, 1987.  “That was special to be able to broadcast that.  It not only was a historic blast, but a dramatic ninth-inning game-winner.”

**Black Friday.  “[October 7,] 1977, the night we had a lead against the Dodgers going into the ninth at Veterans Stadium and we lost.  It was the most painful loss.”

**NLCS Game 5 in Houston (October 12, 1980).  “That entire series was a nail-biter.  It was so exciting to finally advance to the World Series.  Not only was it exciting but draining.”

**World Series parade.  “What a thrill.  To see the happy faces of so many fans lined up Broad Street and then at JFK Stadium.  Nothing will ever top that parade, I don’t care how many more there will be and I hope there are a lot.”


Education Program for Prospects

How to throw a slider . . . how to hit a curve ball . . . how to learn to play the game right.

That’s all part of the development process of young professional baseball players during spring training and every day during a minor league season.  The process is a long one and doesn’t necessarily end once a player reaches the big show.

But, there’s more to being a complete ballplayer.  Once again, the Phillies are hosting a prospect education program this week at Citizens Bank Park. 

Participating in the program are RHP Phillippe Aumont, RHP Brody Colvin, LHP Jake Diekman, 2B Cesar Hernandez, OF Jiwan James, RHP Trevor May, RHP Jon Pettibone, RHP Julio Rodriguez, RHP B. J. Rosenberg and C Sebastian Valle.

They’ll hear from and interact with David Montgomery, Dan Plesac, Dave Buck, Bernie Parent, Frank Coppenberger, Elaine Plasqua, Jim Thome, Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro Sr.  Topics range from being a professional on and off the field, being an athlete in Philadelphia, participating in the community, the business of baseball, media training, clubhouse and travel etiquette, off-field choices, preparation and expectations.

The group will also get a tour of Citizens Bank Park. A road trip to the MLB Network studios is scheduled for Thursday.

Work outs at Citizens Bank Park are also on the schedule at the end of the day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Next month some of the young prospects will join the Phillies big league camp at Bright House Field.  Others will be part of the minor league camp that begins in March at Carpenter Field.

The ultimate goal: to be a well-rounded big league ballplayer.

Banquet Time

Before baseball returns to the field next month, baseball hits the banquet circuit this month.  Here’s a recap:

14—Kennett Square Old-Timers Association banquet, Tommy Greene.

23—Williamsport, Ruben Amaro Jr., Steve Noworyta.

24—Reading, Ruben, Steve, Ryne Sandberg, Tom McCarthy.

25—Lakewood, Ruben, Steve, Charlie Manuel, Mickey Morandini.

25—Hanover Rotary Club Sports Night, Greg Gross.

26—Lehigh Valley, Ryne, Charlie, Scott Proefrock, Steve.

30—Philadelphia Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association, Charlie, Hunter Pence, Ruben.  Phillies to receive the Team of the Year Award for 2011.

Charlie is a great banquet speaker, telling some funny stories.  One of his great lines, “I was one of 13 kids growing up.  I never slept alone until I got married.”


Classic Winter Classic

Happy New Year!

May 2012 be filled with good health, happiness and prosperity.  Another World Championship would also be welcomed.

It was pretty cool watching the NHL Winter Classic on TV.  Cooler being there, I suppose.  Citizens Bank Park has had some classic games in its eight-year history, including this one.

Congratulations to all who made the Classic happen.  It was a real boom for the city and region.  Great national TV coverage.

Unfortunately, the home team offense fell one short.  Seemed to have seen that before. 

Loved the Brightstone commercial and seeing Dick Vitale speechless.  For a second, I thought the TV control was on mute.  Dick didn’t say a word (for a change) and I’m sure he got pretty good change for being in the TV spot. Probably a lifetime supply of tires.

Two more hockey games, a college game on Wednesday and then a minor league game on Friday night, the Phantoms against the Hershey Bears in an American Hockey League game.

So, 14 weeks after the NHL Winter Classic, the Phillies will open their home schedule against the Miami Marlins and their new gaudy uniforms.  Hopefully the ice will be melted by then and new turf will be nice and green and plush. 

Thirty years ago, the Phillies home opener at the Vet was postponed by snow and cold weather.  No ice, though.

Warm Thoughts
Phillies cruise leaves Saturday.

And, spring training will be here before you know it.  Phillies have three spring training trips for fans.  Two are sold out.

Tickets for spring training games will go on sale on Jan. 12 right here on phillies.com.

Versatile Ballpark
On Jan. 4, the Duke Alumni will have a reception in the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park prior to Duke’s high-powered basketball team taking on Temple at the Wells Fargo Center.

GG Appearance
This Thursday, Greg Gross will be participating in a program promoting fitness for senior citizens who reside at Maris Grove, a continuing care community in Glen Mills, PA. 

Holiday bells are now being replaced by holiday bills.