Ryan Howard’s Legacy

2006 players have worn the Phillies uniform since the franchise was established in 1883. Some are in the Hall of Fame and the Phillies Wall of Fame, some had good careers, others were awful and a few had cup-of-coffee appearances of one game only.

The legacy of Ryan Howard is that he did some things no other Phillies can claim. A Rookie Of The Year followed by the Most Valuable Player. The Phillies have had several of each but not in back-to-back seasons (2005-2006).

2006, there’s that number again, was his best season. He became the only Phillies player to reach 50 home runs in a season and he did it in dramatic fashion, #50-51-52 in the same game at Citizens Bank Park. It was the only time he went deep three times in one game.

That season finished with 58 home runs, a mark that has been permanently marked with a bronze plaque in Section 145, row 7 at Citizens Bank Park. Mike Schmidt held the previous club record for the most home runs in one season, 48, in 1980.

Howard followed his 58 with seasons of 47, 48, 45. No Phillies hitter ever had four consecutive seasons of 40 or more home runs. Over his first five seasons, he averaged 44 homers. Again, unmatched by any Phillies slugger. Chuck Klein averaged 136 RBI his first five seasons; Howard is second, 127.

In those five seasons, he became the fastest player in baseball history to reach 100, 150 and 200 home runs.

He was the MVP in both the Florida State League (2003) and Eastern League (2004). His 2006 NL MVP was followed by finishing fifth, second, third, 10th and 10th in the voting over the next five seasons.

The Phillies had a lot talented players through those years and won a lot of games. Howard was the constant #4 hitter and big-time power bat, earning the nickname, The Big Piece, from manager Charlie Manuel.

The Cardinals eliminated the Phillies from postseason play in 2011. Howard was the last out in Game 5, October 7, at Citizens Bank Park. He struck out and crumbled to the ground just outside the batter’s box in pain. He tore his left Achilles tendon. Surgery five days later.

The big man was never the same after that. He worked, battled and grinded out at-bat after at-bat. He finished with 25 homers this year, the most since 33 in 2011.

Through it all he maintained even-keel despite struggles at the plate and in the field, personal issues, a media attack about taking PEDS and the lack of playing time. Tommy Joseph came out of nowhere this season and began to get more starts at first base. A major distraction was preached by the media. Howard and Pete Mackanin handled it with class eliminating any issues.

Said Joseph, “He never made me feel like he was the man on top and I was still trying to hunt him. That guy has done everything in this game, almost — MVP, Rookie of the Year, World Series champion. That guy just made me feel like we were on a level playing field, when in reality, we’re not. That guy is a special player and a special human.”


One more stand-alone statistic: most grand slams in Phillies history, 15. #14 was part of his 30th and final two-homer game, Friday night this August 12. Only fitting that Ryan (Miles Kennedy photo) would put on a show for his predecessor, Jim Thome, who was inducted into the Toyota Wall of Fame that night. Watching the game from a suite, Thome stood and cheered when Howard went deep with the bases loaded.

As big as Howard was in the middle of the lineup, he was that big off the field.

He actively supported PAL programs, donated tickets to PAL kids and was an active member of the Philadelphia Action team, a national youth volunteer initiative administered by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America.
He donated money toward new baseball fields in North Philadelphia.

Along with his wife Krystle, the Ryan Howard Big Piece Foundation was formed in 2013. Its signature program is the Ryan Howard Reading Challenge, a K-3 literacy-based program to engage children in reading. A year ago the Howards released Little Rhino, a baseball-themed children’s book series.

On July 21 this summer, the Ryan Howard Training Center, a new 7,500 square-foot indoor baseball/softball facility was officially opened. The Training center is part of the Phillies MLB Youth Academy located in the Marion Andersen Recreation Center in South Philadelphia. The Howards made a significant monetary commitment to the Academy through their Foundation so that more than 8,000 RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) players can improve their skills year round. The RBI players will also have access to fitness training as well as educational and vocational programs.

A kid from St. Louis certainly has made a huge imprint in Philadelphia both on the baseball field and in the community.

Emotional Farewell Tribute

The end of the season often leaves two emotions. Relief following a losing season or ecstasy because the postseason playoffs follow. Yesterday was different, totally different.

Oh, the Phillies were finishing a losing season and there were plenty of prizes to be given away as is a tradition on Fan Appreciation Day. Yesterday the losing season didn’t matter. Ryan Howard Appreciation Day replaced Fan Appreciation Day. During the pre-game tribute honoring Howard, fans showed their appreciation with a long standing ovation and numerous applause interruptions while he stood by himself in front of the Phillies dugout with a microphone in his right hand. He expressed his appreciation for the fans.

During the long ovation before he spoke, his teammates in the dugout were applauding. The enemy Mets did the same, whether they were in the dugout or loosening up in the green left field grass.

A touching highlight video created by Dan Stephenson, the Phillies video genius, pumped everyone in the stands which resembled a sea of red with so many fans wearing the team’s colors. The video also touched Ryan. What really got him was the presentation of a bronze plaque placed in Section 145 (left-center) where his 58th home run landed in 2006. The person placing the plaque in the exact location was his 15-year-old son, Darian. Ryan told Scott Palmer afterwards, “When I saw Darian I knew the Phillies got me.” Oh, Ryan received a duplicate plaque from Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, the two greatest home run hitters in Phillies history. That scene drew a loud ovation.

Throughout his off-the-cuff comments, he got emotional as did many others, choking back tears. Who said there is no crying in baseball? Kleenex facials tissues should have been the tribute sponsor.

Class is the best word to describe the tribute put on by the Phillies. Class also applies to Ryan. He’s always handled things with class.

Ryan had the honor of presenting his team’s lineup card at home plate, which triggered a photo of the four umps, Ryan and Mets manager Terry Collins.

Ryan was hitless in four at-bats during the game. It didn’t matter as he got standing ovations every time. Matter of fact, there were more standing ovations than total runs scored in the Phillies 5-2 victory.

His last at-bat came at 5:26 according to the Sherwin Williams big clock in left-center field. It was the eighth inning. When he got back to the dugout, he kept motioning with his right arm as if he was swinging the bat. He had a pitch to drive and he popped out to the shortstop. Bench coach Larry Bowa approached him and whispered something in his left ear.

Top of the ninth meant Ryan Howard would take the field for the last time. He was the first one out of the dugout. Within seconds, Tommy Joseph trotted to first base to replace a legend. The two big men hugged. The 36,935 fans stood and cheered once again. TV captured Darian in the stands wiping away tears. His teammates mobbed him as he entered the dugout. The fans cheered. One-by-one he hugged each teammate. Relief pitcher Hector Neris who entered the game in the top of that inning stood on the mound and applauded by slapping his bare hand against his glove. The fans cheered. The Mets were lined up on the top dugout step applauding. The fans cheered so long and hard, Ryan made his final curtain call. A two-minute love fest finally ended.

He exited the dugout but returned wearing a red, short-sleeve sweatshirt and watched Neris pick up a save. After the final out, the Phillies entered the field to form a long line of high-fives. Cameras followed Ryan. He crossed the foul line while heading toward the dugout and was about to be interviewed by CSN’s Leslie Gudel. That was on put hold as another touching video about Ryan’s career played on the big video boards. The fans stood throughout the video, cheered at its conclusion and then heard Leslie’s interview over the public address system. Ryan again thanked the fans which drew more applause. During the interview most of his teammates were in the dugout taking it all in, a real tribute.

Ryan finally headed for the dugout while the cheering continued. He went down the steps and disappeared from everyone’s sight. His teammates followed. The fans, especially those behind the Phillies dugout, didn’t leave. The 134th season in franchise history was over. The career of their greatest first baseman had ended. The last piece from the 2008 World Championship was gone. Perhaps the fans didn’t want to believe it.

In his last game, Ryan Howard went out a winner. It was only fitting.

Late last night, this appeared on twitter:
Ryan Howard ?@ryanhoward
Words cannot express how much I appreciated today. Thank you @Phillies, fans, my teammates former & current for the love and support.

Final Game For Phillies Icon


By now you know the Mets celebrated on the Phillies home field following yesterday’s win, 5-3. The win clinched a postseason wildcard berth for them.

Today, the 134th season in Phillies history will end. Of bigger significance, it will be the final game for a Phillies icon. Ryan (The Big Piece) Howard will play his last game in a Phillies uniform. It all began as a pinch-hitter against the Atlanta Braves, September 1, 2004, at Citizens Bank Park where he’s thrilled Phillies fans infinitely.

With the Phillies trailing the Mets, 2-0, in the fifth inning yesterday he gave the fans what they wanted, a game-tying home run to right field. The big clock at CBP was at 2:40 p.m. It resulted in a curtain call, one of many in his career. It was his 25th homer, the most since he belted 33 in the 2011 season.

Around 2:30 this afternoon, the Phillies will hold a ceremony to honor Ryan with the game to follow at 3:05. It will be an emotional day. Fans will be taking photos with their cell phones as a personal treasure of being there for Ryan. That was also evident yesterday.

Howard is the last one from the team’s greatest era of 2007-2011. He’s also the last Phillies player born in the 1970s (1979).

Checking baseball-reference.com, Howard has played three games on October 2. He’s 5-for-11 with one home run.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 382
Vs. Mets, 48, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 198, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 44
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 291
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Today’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

All-Time vs. Mets
Willie Stargell, 60
Mike Schmidt, 49
Chipper Jones, 49
Willie McCovey, 48

HR, On This Date
2009, #221, vs. Marlins, Rick van den Hurk, Citizens Bank Park

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

Hello 50
Having broken Mike Schmidt’s club record for home runs in a season (48) in Washington, DC, on 8/31/06, he became the first Phillies player to reach 50 and zoomed right past that number with a three-home run game:
#50 9/3/06, 1st game, vs. Braves, Tim Hudson, 2d inning, Citizens Bank Park
#51 Tim Hudson, 3rd inning
#52 Tim Hudson, 6th inning

First At-Bat
9/1/04, pinch-hitting for Vicente Padilla vs. Braves, 5th inning, struck out looking, 3-2 pitch from Jaret Wright, Citizens Bank Park. 35,031

This Date
October 2, 2005
Jimmy Rollins ends season with 36-game hitting streak, a club record, in 9-3 win in

October 2, 2008
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Shane Victorino hits a grand slam home run off CC
Sabathia to cap a five-run second inning that lifts the Phillies to a 5-2 win and 2-0 lead
over the Brewers.

October 2, 2011
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Phillies grab a 4-0 lead after two innings but the
Cardinals come back against Cliff Lee to win, 5-4, and even the series at 1-1.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Familiar Storyline

Storyline of the 2016 Phillies season is pretty clear, solid starting pitching and little offense. The storyline expanded this month with shoddy defense and a bullpen that has sprung a major leak. All four surfaced last night in the Mets 5-1 win.

Alec Asher retired the first 11 Mets and then was tagged for two runs on four, two-out singles in the fourth. He set down the next seven Mets before Jay Bruce hit an opposite field home run on a 3-1 pitch.

The one-run offense: a sacrifice fly by Cameron Rupp. It gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead after two innings. Their last hit came in the sixth inning.

The shoddy defense and leaky bullpen came into play in a two-run eighth inning. Two singles off Michael Mariot and a fielding error by Aaron Altherr put runners on first and third. The next batter popped to short right. Altherr and Cesar Hernandez almost collided before the second baseman made a bobbling catch. Yoenis Cespedes appeared to strike out but the first base umpire ruled no swing resulting in the first ejection of Pete Mackanin. Cespedes then hit a pop up toward first which wasn’t caught. The ball actually landed on the first base bag. Bruce, facing a lefty, singled with two out to make it 5-1.

Ryan Howard’s double was his 286th, one shy of Richie Ashburn for ninth place on the Phillies all-time list. Ryan received a standing ovation when he came to bat for the first time . . . Hernandez has reached base in 33 of his last 34 games . . . Freddy Galvis left the game in the seventh because of a tight right hamstring . . . The Mets have homered 17 times in their last seven games at Citizens Bank Park . . . 1:05 afternoon game today for FOX TV . . . Atlanta’s loss means the Phillies will finish fifth.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 381
Vs. Mets, 47, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 197, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 43
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 290
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Today’s pitcher: Colon, 3 in 30 AB
Sunday’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

On this date
2005, #24, John Patterson at Washington

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

This Date
October 1, 1982
RHP Terry Leach pitches 10, 10inning 1hitter against Phillies. Luis Aguayo’s triple in 5th is lone hit.  RHP John Denny pitches 1hitter through 9 innings (Dave Kingman single in 2nd).

October 1, 2008
NLDS #1 at Citizens Bank Park: Phillies earn first postseason win in 15 years with a 3-1 decision over the Brewers. Cole Hamels tosses eight shutout innings to get the win, retiring the first 14 batters.

October 1, 2011
NLDS #1 at Citizens Bank Park: Ryan Howard’s three-run homer keys a five-run sixth inning as the Phillies defeat the Cardinals, 11-6.  Roy Halladay retires the last 21 batters to earn the win.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Big Farewell Weekend


Can’t remember an icon ending his Phillies career as will happen with Ryan Howard this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.

Four Phillies Hall of Famers had different exits. Richie Ashburn was traded in the winter (1960) while Robin Roberts was sold to the Yankees in spring training (1961). Steve Carlton was released during the season (1986) and Mike Schmidt retired on the road during the season (1989). Howard’s teammates, Chase Utley (2015), Cole Hamels (2015) and Carlos Ruiz (2016), were traded during the season. Jimmy Rollins’ final season (2014) ended with a strained left hamstring on September 8. He was traded three months later.

None were able to receive a final farewell in front of Phillies fans. That’s about to change.

The Phillies will have a special pre-game presentation to Ryan at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Game time is 3:05 p.m. Remember, Saturday’s game time has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. for a FOX national telecast as the Mets continue their push for a wildcard postseason berth.

While the Phillies are limping to the finish line there’s going to be the excitement of Ryan’s final games and trying to spoil the Mets season. Phillies fans will need to drown out the Mets fans.

Citizens Bank Park will be energized as the season closes. Cell phone cameras will be in action.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 381
Vs. Mets, 47, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 197, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 43
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 290
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Tonight’s pitcher: Gsellman, 0 in 3 AB
Saturday’s pitcher: Colon, 3 in 30 AB
Sunday’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

On this date
2005, #23, Livan Hernandez at Washington
2007, #129, Mike Bacsik vs. Washington

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

End Of Road
Jeanmar Gomez’s nightmarish month continued as the Phillies lost their last road game and their final game in Turner Field last night. Entering a 1-1 game in the eighth, he walked the leadoff hitter. It led to a four-run inning and a 5-2 defeat.

Jeremy Hellickson left the game after 3.1 innings because of a sprained right knee and the Phillies leading, 1-0. Hellickson scored that run after a single in the third inning. The other run came on a pair of two-out hits in the ninth.

So, the Phillies finished 34-47 on the road, losing six of their last seven. Yet, it was an improvement on last year’s road record (26-55).

5 Things
Five things to know about the Mets
**10-6 vs. Phillies this season
**4-2 at Citizens Bank Park
**Won the season series from the Phillies for the sixth straight year.
**Enter tonight’s game having scored 25 unanswered runs vs. the Phillies
**Bluntly, they own the Phillies

This Date
September 30, 1951
CF Richie Ashburn goes 4-for-8 in final game to finish with 221 hits, the first Phillie to lead the NL in 18 years. Phillies defeat Brooklyn, 9-8, in 14 innings at Shibe Park.

September 30, 1971
CF Willie Montanez sets a club rookie record with his 30th home run as the Phillies end the season with a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh at the Vet.

September 30, 1978
LHP Randy Lerch (11-8) hits two home runs and picks up the win as the Phillies capture their third straight NL East title, 10-8, at Pittsburgh.

September 30, 2007
Phillies beat Washington, 6-1, at Citizens Bank Park and clinch National League
Eastern Division title in last game of season as New York Mets who were tied
with Phillies for first place lost to Florida, 8-1.

September 30, 2009
Phillies beat Houston, 10-3, at Citizens Bank Park and clinch the National League
Eastern Division title with four games left for third straight year and eighth overall.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Farewell Turner Field

Adam Morgan had a nine-pitch scoreless first inning. It went downhill from there as the Braves scored nine runs off him over the next three innings. He finished the game and his season having allowed nine runs on 10 hits in five innings. In four previous starts this month, he allowed a total of eight runs.

The leaky Phillies bullpen gave up three runs over the final four innings. Frank Herrmann’s .2 scoreless outing ended a streak in which 12 straight relievers allowed runs. On this 1-5 road trip, the bullpen has allowed 63 runs. Mercy.

Atlanta has won the season series five straight years . . . Phillies final flight home after tonight’s game . . . Mets will be in town for the final three games of the season. First game is 7:05 Friday night . . . A reminder: Saturday’s game has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. for a FOX TV . . . All Sunday games in MLB will begin at 3:05 p.m. . . . Mets have scheduled right-handed starters meaning Ryan Howard will be in the lineup.

Howard HR Facts
Vs. Braves, 52, most against any team
At Turner Field, 23, most for any enemy ballpark
Batting fifth: 43
Tonight’s starter: Collmenter, 0

On this date:
2007, #128, John Rauch at Washington

Farewell Turner Field

Tonight the Phillies bid farewell to Turner Field in the final National League game in the Braves home. Three interleague games against the Tigers this weekend officially close the book.

The first game the Phillies played there was on June 16, 1997, a 5-4 loss. WP: Denny Neagle. LP: Matt Beech. SV: Mark Wohlers. CF Ricky Otero was the Phillies’ first batter. Darren Daulton hit the team’s first home run.

The Phillies greatest game there came on Labor Day two years ago when Cole Hamels-Jake Diekman-Ken Giles-Jonathan Papelbon threw the first combined no-hitter in franchise history.

Another big moment came on the final day of the 2011 season. Atlanta and St. Louis were tied for the wildcard berth while the Phillies had clinched their fifth straight division title. Rather than rest his regulars Charlie Manuel decided to stay with them in a very important game for the Braves and Cardinals. The Phillies franchise record 102nd win and a victory by St. Louis ended the Braves season. The Cardinals later eliminated the Phillies from the postseason.

The Phillies have played the Braves in South End Grounds, Braves Field and Fenway Park (Boston), County Stadium (Milwaukee), Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field (Atlanta). Next year, SunTrust Park. Phillies first game there is June 5.

Closing Enemy Parks
September 3, 1957–Phillies beat the Dodgers 3-2 in 12 innings to win the last major league game played in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J. The Dodgers played eight home games in Jersey City in their final season in Brooklyn. Attendance: 10,190.

September 18, 1963–LHP Chris Short (8-11) wins the final game played at Polo Grounds, a 5-1 complete game. Attendance: 1,752.

September 26, 1976–Phillies win a doubleheader, 4-1 and 2-1, in the last games played in Montreal’s Jarry Park. First game win gives the Phillies the National League Eastern Division title. Second game shortened to seven innings because of rain. Attendance: 14,166.

Working on a player’s weakness and a change in positions are part of the instructional league camp. One focus for pitchers is throwing first pitch strikes. Josh Tobias, a switch-hitting second baseman who tried the outfield in Clearwater, played third base on Tuesday.

PhuturePhillies.com reported that two players joined the Instructs and pushed the roster total to 64 players.  The new additions are LHP Oscar Marcelino and the PTBNL in the Carlos Ruiz trade, OF Joey Curletta.

This Date
September 29, 1907, 1st game
RHP George McQuillan’s consecutive scoreless innings streak ends at 25 innings, a Phillies record for the start of a career.

September 29, 1915
The Phillies clinch first NL pennant with a 5-0 win at Boston, a 1-hitter for RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander, his 30th win. It is his fourth 1-hitter and 12th shutout of the season.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Yet Another Bullpen Loss

If this is the final week in the Phillies career of Ryan Howard, he started it in grand style. He hit the first pitch he saw for his 15th career grand slam in the first inning. By the end of four innings, Jerad Eickhoff was working on a 6-1 lead, having allowed just one hit.

Then the rains came, a delay of nearly two hours. As it turned out, It didn’t rain long enough to postpone the game. The delay cooled the Phillies bats and robbed Eickhoff of a win. He’ll have one more start, the final game of the season Sunday.

The rains also meant the beleaguered Phillies’ bullpen would take over. Within four innings, the Braves led, 7-6, which was the final score. They’ve won five in a row over the Phillies.

One of the strangest patterns continued. On Saturday the Phillies scored 10 unanswered runs. The rest of that game and Sunday, the Mets scored 25 unanswered runs. Last night, six for the Phillies followed by seven by the Braves. Once again the game was decided by the bullpen which has eight blown saves, nine losses and allowed 69 runs this month.

Roman Quinn snapped a streak of six consecutive strikeouts by starting the game with three straight hits. He left the game with an oblique injury . . . Howard’s slam was his 15th, putting him in a tie for 13th place on the all-time list with Ken Griffey Jr. and Richie Sexson. Only three first basemen have hit more, Willie McCovey (18), Eddie Murray (19) and Lou Gehrig (23).

Howard HR Facts
Vs. Braves, 52, most against any team
At Turner Field, 23, most for any enemy ballpark
Batting fifth: 43
Tonight’s starter: Foltynewicz, 1
Thursday night’s starter: Collmenter, 0

On this date:
2007, #127, Arnie Munoz at Washington
2014, #334, Aaron Harang vs. Atlanta

MLB Note
From Elias Sports Bureau: A total of 107 players have hit 20 home runs this season, a major league high. Previous was 103 in 1999.

Player Development
Baseball America has released its list of the top 20 players in the Gulf Coast League.
Three are Phillies, #1, CF Mickey Moniak; #7, 2B Dan Brito and #15, OF Jhailyn Ortiz. Sixto Sanchez was named the Pitcher of the Year.

The Florida Instructional League season began on Monday with the Phillies hosting the Blue Jays at Bright House Field. Emphasis is on instruction and not statistics. It resembled a typical FIL game in that the Phillies used six different pitchers and 13 position players. Actually that’s September baseball in the major leagues these days.

Before the 1 o’clock afternoon game, the entire camp worked out at Carpenter Complex. That is a daily routine except for Sunday.

This Date
September 28, 1919
In the fastest game ever played in the major leagues, it takes the New York Giants 51 minutes to beat the Phillies, 6-1, at the Polo Grounds. Most batters swung at the first pitch and ran the bases at will.

September 28, 1958

CF Richie Ashburn goes 3-for-4 in the final game of the season, a 6-4 win at Pittsburgh, to edge Willie Mays, .350 to .347, for the NL batting title. The Phillies haven’t had a batting champion since.

September 28, 1983
C Bo Diaz has five hits, including two homers, and 2B Joe Morgan, four hits and three RBI, as the Phillies clinch the NL East, 13-6, at Chicago, their 14th win in the last 16 games.

September 28, 2003

Before a sellout crowd of 58,554, the final game in Vet history is won by the Atlanta Braves, 5-2. Following the last out, emotional and memorable closing ceremonies are held featuring the 2003 Phillies and nearly 100 alumni. Larry Bowa jumped on home plate during the ceremonies.

September 28, 2011
Phillies set club record for most wins in a season with 102 as they beat Atlanta Braves, 4-3, in 13 innings. Charlie Manuel sets club record for most wins by a manager with 646, passing Gene Mauch.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

6 for #6

Not only is a season winding down, a career for a Phillies icon is nearing the finish line. Ryan Howard, the greatest first baseman in Phillies history, has six more potential starts, barring injury. Three right-handers are starting on the mound for the Braves in this series that begins tonight and Ryan is expected to be in the middle of the Phillies lineup as he’s done since he reached the majors 12 years ago.

After this series, the scene switches to Citizens Bank Park for three games against the Mets starting Friday night. Saturday’s game has been changed from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. for a FOX telecast. It is only fitting that Mike Schmidt, the club’s all-time home run leader with 548, will be in the Phillies TV booth for the final game. He and Ryan are 1-2 in home runs for the Phillies and will be for a long time. They also have a special bond.

Howard’s currently sitting at 380 career homers which puts him in sole place for 70th on baseball’s all-time list. He’s hit one home run on this date, 2007, #126, John Smoltz vs. Atlanta.

Howard HR Phun Facts
Vs. Braves, 51, most against any team
At Turner Field, 22, most for any enemy ballpark
Tonight’s starter: Teheran, 2
Wednesday night’s starter: Foltynewicz, 1
Thursday night’s starter: Wisler, 0

Braves have won the last four games vs. the Phillies . . . Season series all tied at 8-8 . . . Last time the Phillies won the season series was 2011 (12-6) . . . Turner Field this season, 4-3 Phillies . . . Turner Field history, 88-82 Braves.

5 Things
Five things to know about the Braves.
**They are only 26-49 in their final season at Turner Field.
**13-9 this month, including 7 wins in last 8 games.
**Hit .237 before ASG; .278 since (32-34 record).
**They have used a club-record 16 different starting pitchers.
**22 extra-inning games (11-11).

The Phillies are the first team ever to have two first basemen with 20-plus home runs . . . Jimmy Rollins began as a TBS studio analyst on Sunday afternoon. He’ll also be there for the last Sunday and any TBS postseason games. Joining him are Gary Sheffield and Pedro Martinez. Jimmy has done similar TV in the past for FOX . . . Chase Utley has won the 2016 Roy Campanella Award as the Dodgers’ most inspirational player. Anyone surprised? Who makes the annual selection? The Dodger players . . . Vince Scully’s comment from his pre-game salute last week, “I’m going to retire, buy a small house with a large medicine cabinet.” . . . Baseball America has named Jorge Alfaro as the best defensive catcher in the minors.

Minor League Review
Each of the Phillies six domestic minor league affiliates finished above .500 for the first time since 1953 . . . Winning percentage for those six is .595, highest of all organizations . . . Four teams reached the playoffs . . . Phillies minor league players received one league MVP, one league Pitcher of the Year, one league Rookie of the Year, two Futures Game selections, four league Player of the Month Awards, 14 league Player of the Week honors.

Here are the organizational leaders from the four full season affiliates: LV (Lehigh Valley), RE (Reading), CL (Clearwater) and LA (Lakewood).

Hitting Leaders
G 1b Rhys Hoskins (RE), 135
AB 2B Scott Kingery (CL-RE), 531
R RF Dylan Cozens (RE), 106
H Kingery 149
2B Cozens, 38
3B CF Roman Quinn (RE)/Nick Williams (LV), 6
TB Cozens, 308
BB SS J. P. Crawford (RE-LV), 72
SO Cozens, 186
SB Quinn, 31
OBP Hoskins, .377
SLG Cozens, .591
AVG OF Andrew Pullin (CL-RE), .322
OPS Hoskins, .943

Pitching Leaders
G LH Rodriguez (CL-RE-LV), 53
GS RH Ben Lively (RE-LV), 28
CG LH Anthony Vasquez (RE-LV), 3
W Lively, 18-5
L 3 with 9
ERA RH Jake Thompson (LV), 2.50
SV RH Edward Mujica (LV), 26
IP Vasquez, 172.1
H Vasquez, 168
R RH Ricardo Pinto (RE), 84
BB Pinto/RH Nick Pivetta (RE-LV), 51
SO RH Jose Taveras (LA), 154
WHIP Lively, 0.94

Instructional League
For a story about the Phillies camp check out h://atmlb.com/2degAe6

This Date

1949, Happy Birthday, Mike Schmidt.

September 27, 1977
RHP Larry Christenson wins his 18th game and drives in five runs as the Phillies capture their second NL East title, 15-9, over Chicago at Wrigley Field, their 101st win for the second straight year.

September 27, 2003

Phillies beat Atlanta, 7-6, in 10 innings for their final win at Veterans Stadium. Jim Thome hits the last home run and Rheal Cormier is last Phillies pitcher to win a game at Veterans Stadium.

September 27, 2008
The Phillies beat Washington, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park to wrap up Eastern Division title with one game left.

September 27, 2010
For first time, Phillies win Eastern Division Crown four consecutive years as they beat Nationals, 8-0, in Washington with five games to go.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

(Will blog daily through the rest of the season and Ryan Howard’s farewell).

Blowout Ends Wild Series

Expanded September rosters were on full display during a Phillies four-game series against the Mets at Citi Field. Continuing their mastery of the Phillies, the Mets won three, including 17-0 on Sunday.

That’s the most runs the Mets ever scored against the Phillies in 946 meetings. It is the second biggest shutout loss in Phillies history to 28-0 at the hands of the Providence Grays, August 21, 1883. One would hope that record will never be broken.

Sunday’s blow-out was the only game the Phillies couldn’t have won. Their lone win came Saturday night when they led 10-0 before the Mets had a base runner. That game ended 10-8 with the winning run at the plate in the ninth.

Statistical Randomness
In the four-game series the two teams combined for……..
Runs: 67
Hits: 88
Walks: 42
Hit By Pitch: 9
Strikeouts: 75
Players: 159, including 43 relief pitchers
Pitches thrown: 1,464
Time: 15 hours, 22 minutes
Balks: 0

This show leaves Broadway for Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (3:05), the final three games of the regular season.

Road Show
The Phillies play their final three road games in Atlanta starting on Tuesday night. The games are the last National League games to be played in Turner Field, home of the Braves since 1997. The final games are this weekend, an interleague series with the Detroit Tigers.

The Braves will have a new ballpark next year. That means Citizens Bank Park will be the oldest park in the National League East. Shocking.

Minor League Review
Lehigh Valley IronPigs, International League North Division

Finished second in the division, 85-58, the second-best AAA record . . . Earned wildcard berth but lost Division Series playoffs to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 3-0 . . . It was the second time LV made the postseason; 2011 being the other . . . 85 wins were the most by a Phillies AAA affiliate since 2002 . . . Attendance: 611,015; average (8,729) ranked fourth in IL. It marked the ninth straight season attendance exceeded 600,000, longest streak in the minors.

Team Notes
The IronPigs never lost more than three games in a row . . . 3.12 ERA was a franchise low . . . 42-30 at home; 43-28 on the road . . . Set club record by hitting 122 home runs . . . Pitching staff led league with a 1.15 WHIP, was second in ERA (3.12) and third in shutouts (18).

Player Notes
RH Jake Thompson was named the IL’s Most Valuable Pitcher . . . Thompson (2.50) and RH Ben Lively (3.06) finished 1-2 in ERA in the league . . . Lively and Thompson shared league high in W (11); combined with Reading, Lively all minor leaguers in wins (18-5) . . . Lively and Thompson, 1-2, in WHIP, 0.93-1.10.

All-Stars: C Andrew Knapp, OF Cameron Perkins, RHR Edward Mujica were selected for the AAA All-Star Game. Knapp homered and Perkins drove in the winning run . . . Thompson was named to the IL postseason All-Star team.

Hitting Leaders

G OF Nick Williams, 125 (photo)
AB Williams, 497
R Williams, 78
H Williams, 128
2B Williams, 33
3B Williams, 6
HR LF-1B Darin Ruf, 20
RBI Ruf, 65
TB Williams, 212
BB 1B Brock Stassi, 60
SO Williams, 136
SB INF-OF Darnell Sweeney, 12
OBP Stassi, .369
SLG Ruf, .529 (led league)
AVG OF Cedric Hunter/Ruf, .294
OPS Ruf, .885

Pitching Leaders

G RH Luis Garcia, 48
GS RH David Buchanan, 26
CG LH Anthony Vasquez, 2
ShO RH Ben Lively, 1 (photo)
W Lively/RH Jake Thompson, 11-5
L Buchanan, 10-9
ERA Thompson, 2.50 (led league)
SV RH Edward Mujica, 26
IP Buchanan, 167.1
H Buchanan, 163
R Buchanan, 81
BB Buchanan, 45
SO Buchanan, 95
WHIP Lively, 0.93 (led league)

Instructional League
Phillies play their first game (Blue Jays) a 1 this afternoon in Bright House Field. Rest of the week: Tuesday (Yankees, home, 1 p.m.), Thursday (at Yankees complex in Tampa, 1), Friday (at Pirate City in Bradenton, 10 a.m.) and Saturday (Blue Jays at Carpenter Complex, 10). No games are played on Sundays.

Seven Phillies minor leaguers assigned to the Arizona Fall League will report to Carpenter Complex this week before flying to Phoenix next week: RHR Victor Arano, LHS Brandon Leibrandt, RHR Miguel Nunez, LHR Jeff Singer, 2B Scott Kingery, 3B Mitch Walding, OF Aaron Brown. Season starts October 11.

This Date

Happy Birthday: Former pitcher with the Philadelphia A’s and Phillies, Bobby Shantz, 91 today.

September 26, 1954
CF Richie Ashburn finishes the season by playing in his 730th straight game, a Phillies all-time record that still stands. The streak began June 7, 1950, and ended when Ashburn failed to make the 1955 opener after getting injured in a collision with LF Del Ennis during a spring training exhibition game at Wilmington, DE.

September 26, 1976, 1st game
After watching a lead of 15 ½ games on August 24, 1976, slip to three games in three weeks, the Phillies clinch their first post-season title in 26 years, 4-1 over the Expos in Jarry Park, the final day for the Montreal ballpark.

September 26, 1998, 2nd game
RHP Curt Schilling strikes out seven Florida batters in his final start to finish with 300 strikeouts, only the fifth big league pitcher with 300 or strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Bitter Improbable Loss


Back on April 9, a Saturday at Citi Field, the 0-4 Phillies were clinging to a 1-0 lead after eight innings. The bullpen had allowed 15 runs in 10 innings during the 0-4 start so Pete Mackanin turned to Jeanmar Gomez. Six pitches later, Gomez recorded his first Phillies save.

Last night on the very same mound, Gomez came on in the bottom of the ninth trying to save a 6-4 lead. On August 13, he recorded his 30th save. Since then the bottom fell out and it happened again as he gave up a one-out, two-run homer sending the game into extra innings. In 17 games since August 13, he’s allowed 17 runs in 13.2 innings.

Scoring two runs in the 11th, the Phillies led for the third time in the game. 23-year-old Edubray Ramos, who was in Reading when the season started, came on to try and record his first major league save. A one-out walk, single and walk-off three-run homer lifted the Mets to an improbable 9-8 win. For the Phillies, a bitter two-blown saves loss, also improbable.

Once again a Phillies starter pitched well. This time it was Adam Morgan who allowed three runs in five innings while striking out eight. The rest of the Mets runs came against the bullpen.

Ryan Howard, Cameron Rupp and Maikel Franco all hit homers for the Phillies. Two came off the Mets starter who gave up three runs in five innings. The rest of the Phillies runs came off the Mets’ bullpen.

Morgan’s outing was the 19th consecutive start in which the starter has allowed three runs or less, matching the 1989 rotation. Three years earlier the rotation had a 19-game streak . . . Cesar Hernandez continued to excel as the leadoff hitter: 2 hits, 3 walks, 3 runs. He’s reached base in 27 straight games, longest since Chase Utley’s 28-game streak in 2011 . . . 409 pitches were thrown by 19 different pitchers in the 4-hour, 23 minute marathon.

On Twitter
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
“What do Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter and Pete Mackanin have in common? They are only managers this year not to be ejected, per @sfgwir”

Minor League Review
Reading Fightin Phils, Eastern League Eastern Division

Won Eastern Division title (89-52) during the season before losing the Division Series playoffs to Trenton, 3-2 . . . Best record in league for two straight years . . . Win total was second in Reading’s history (96-44, 1983) . . . Attendance: 420,320, tops in the league. Exceeded 400,000 for the 18th time in the last 19 years

Team Notes
Reading led the Eastern League in batting (.270), runs (790), hits (1,309), doubles (270), home runs (185), RBI (747), walks (515), slugging percentage (.450) and on-base percentage (.344). No other team came within 154 runs or 50 home runs of Reading.

Player Notes
Cozens (40) and Hoskins (38) were the top two home run leaders in the minor leaguers . . . Cozens led all double-A players in HR, RBI (125) and R (106). Set Reading franchise records in HR (Darin Ruf, 36) and RBI (Greg Luzinski, 120) . . . . . . Post-season honors: Cozens, the EL MVP; Hoskins, EL Rookie of the Year; Dusty Wathan, EL Manager of the Year . . . Cozens and Hoskins, co-winners of the Paul Owens Award for best hitters.

All-Stars: July 13 All-Star Game selections: C Jorge Alfaro, Hoskins, Cozens, 2B Jesmuel Valentin, RHS Nick Pivetta, LHR Hoby Milner . . . Cozens and Hoskins were selected to the postseason All-Star Team.

Hitting Leaders

G 1b Rhys Hoskins, 135
AB RF Dylan Cozens, 521 (photo)
R Cozens, 106
H Cozens, 144
2B Cozens, 38
3B CF Roman Quinn, 6
HR Cozens, 40
RBI Cozens, 125
TB Cozens, 308
BB Hoskins, 71
SO Cozens, 186
SB Quinn, 31
OBP Hoskins, 377
SLG Cozens, 591
AVG INF KC Serna, .295
OPS Hoskins, .943

Pitching Leaders

G RH, Miguel Nunez, 45
GS RH, Ricardo Pinto, 25
W RH Nick Pivetta, 11-6 (photo)
L 6 by 3 different pitchers
ERA RH Mark Leiter, 3.39
SV Nunez, 17
IP Pinto, 156.0
H Pinto, 150
R Pinto, 84
BB Pinto, 51
SO Pivetta, 111
WHIP Leiter Jr., 1.17

This Date
September 23, 1916
RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander pitches 7-3 and 4-0 complete-game wins over Cincinnati at Baker Bowl and ties a major league record by walking only one batter. Almost a year later (September 3) he does it again, 5-0 and 9-3, at Brooklyn, allowing one walk. Time of game: 1:33 for first game; 2:07 for second. Wins were #30-31.

September 23, 1965, 1st game
RHP Jim Bunning’s fifth-inning strikeout is his 242nd of the season, breaking the club record held by RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander (241, 1915). Bunning wins, 11-5, at Wrigley Field.

September 23, 1983

A 6-2, 12-strikeout victory at St. Louis gives LHP Steve Carlton his 300th career win, the 16th pitcher in baseball history to reach that milestone.

September 24, 1911
St. Louis scores in the sixth inning to break rookie RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander’s 41 consecutive scoreless innings streak, a Phillies record that hasn’t been broken.

September 25, 1955
CF Richie Ashburn is hitless in seven at-bats in a season-ending doubleheader in the Polo Grounds but easily wins his first batting title (.338).

Twitter: @ShenkLarry