Ranking the 25 Most Famous Philadelphia Phillies Players of All-Time
What's it take to be famous in this game?
That almost seems like a rhetorical question when you first hear it; but the more you think about it, the more difficult the response becomes.
Well, we can narrow it down through process of elimination. You obviously have to be pretty good to be famous. The utility infielder on a specific club or the lowest guy on the depth chart in the bullpen isn't going to be the first player that comes to mind 20 years from now.
No. We like to remember the All-Stars and the Cy Young and MVP winners. Those guys are the most memorable—the most famous—because they were too good not to be popular.
But when you live in the city of Philadelphia, you don't always grow up listening to stories about the obvious guys. You listen to stories about players who played the game "the right way." You grow up listening to stories of the slick fielding Larry Bowa, the approach of Johhny Callison, the mammoth home run power of Dick Allen and the unforgettable hustle of Pete Rose.
So, maybe I should rephrase the question: What does it take to be famous in the city of Philadelphia? When you play sports, anyone who succeeds and plays the game hard has a great chance.
But before we get into the rankings of the most "famous" players in Phillies' history, keep this in mind: We're not looking for the best. We're looking for the most famous.
25. The "New" Guys?
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Consider this your honorary No. 25 spot in the rankings.
One of the things that I struggled with in this slide show was the growth of media through the course of history. Sounds complicated, but it's actually kind of simple. We have more technology nowadays that grants us impressive access to players.
More coverage equals more fame. That's a simple equation. You also have players making millions upon millions of dollars, which makes them more of a commodity in the world of "celebrities."
So throughout this ranking, I tried to keep the scope on players who were famous because they were Phillies or did something related to the Phillies that made them famous.
So while guys like Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and other recent starts are definitely "famous," are they famous for being Phillies, or "famous" because their salaries indicate that they are. That's a difficult question to answer.
So consider this slide to be dedicated to those players.
24. Curt Simmons
This one may be a bit of a reach, but I always find it at least a little bit surprising how many fans—even the casual ones that aren't into the history—have heard of Curt Simmons.
He was a local guy with a great story. When the Phillies were struggling to draw fans back in the 1940s, they tried all kinds of crazy promotions. One was an exhibition game against Pennsylvania high school all-stars.
The starting pitcher for that high school all-star team was Simmons, and he spent the afternoon dazzling the Phillies' major league lineup.
In fact, he was so good that the Phillies offered him a contract and he was pitching in the MLB later that year.
Simmons would settle into the starting rotation behind right-handed workhorse Robin Roberts and they combined for a lethal one-two punch.
In total, Simmons spent an impressive 13 seasons in Philadelphia.
23. Bobby Abreu
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I wasn't going to put Bobby Abreu on this list, but I was torn. Does he belong here?
I couldn't come to an answer on my own, so I posed the question on Twitter to gauge the Phillies' fan base and was met with an almost resounding, "No."
But here he is anyway. Turns out I just couldn't leave him off.
At his very core, Abreu was the topic of conversation when it came to the Phillies throughout the first half of the last decade.
Whether it was his incredible offensive production, his fear of running into an outfield wall or his reputation as a "clubhouse cancer," everyone knew who Bobby Abreu was and everyone was talking about him.
No, he wasn't the most famous player in the history of this franchise, but few are more recognizable than Abreu in his prime.
22. Mitch Williams
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Mitch Williams was kind of an enigma with the Phillies. You don't often get the opportunity to see a player go from as well liked to as strongly disliked in such a short amount of time.
But Williams was a closer and they're just cut from a different cloth.
The Phillies acquired the "Wild Thing" from the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1991 season and the mullet-rocking, free-thinking free-speaker fit right in.
He was excellent during that '91 season and solid in 1992, but those years only set the stage for 1993. We'll skip to the good part. When Williams surrendered that World Series clinching home run to Joe Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia almost erupted.
But time heals everything. Now, Williams is one of the more well-liked analysts on the MLB Network.
21. Dick Allen
Nine times out of 10, when a baseball player is "famous," it's because he's done a lot of good in his life, be it on the field or off it. That wasn't necessarily the case for Dick Allen.
Now that's not saying that Allen wasn't good on the field, because he certainly was. The "Wampum Walloper" had freakish power and could pulverize a baseball before you could blink. That would eventually help him to both a Rookie of the Year and MVP award.
It was Allen's off-field tendencies that thrust him into the spotlight, and not in a good way. He was known to be confrontational in his earlier days and missed time with self inflicted injuries—including a mismatched fistfight with a car.
Allen would eventually even out and become one of the greatest players of all-time, but he never quite could ditch that reputation of being hard to play with.
20. Lenny Dykstra
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Here's a guy who's famous for all the wrong reasons.
Now don't get me wrong—in his playing days, Phillies fans loved Lenny Dykstra. He was the kind of blue collar player that made a living running into outfield walls and that's a quick way to get the Phillies fans behind you.
Anyone that can earn a nickname like "Nails" earns a special little place in their heart.
Dykstra's post-playing days kind of spiraled out of control, however. The former outfielder has filed for bankruptcy and been arrested more times than I care to mention.
Is partying with Charlie Sheen a good thing? He's done that too.
19. Pat Burrell
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Man or machine? Pat Burrell is retired and I'm still not sure of the answer.
The Phillies made the former left fielder the first overall pick of the amateur draft in 1998 and though things didn't necessarily work out the way the club had planned, Burrell still developed into an excellent player.
A third baseman in college, it didn't take long for the club to realize that he wasn't suited to play there. Having Scott Rolen at third base in the big league didn't help either.
But when Burrell settled into left field, the Phillies found themselves flashing back to 1980. All of the sudden they had a terrible defensive outfielder who could destroy a baseball with the bat—shades of Greg Luzinski.
Oddly enough, those guys are the only two men in the history of this organization to ever play left field for a World Series-winning team.
18. Johnny Callison
Johnny Callison was the face of the Phillies for an entire decade.
An outfielder by trade, Callison was acquired from the Chicago White Sox prior to the 1960 season and it didn't take long for Phillies fans to fall in love with their newest player.
Callison had everything working for him. He had the look, the personality, but most importantly in this town, Callison had the talent.
Throughout the 1960s, players would come and go, but none were as consistent throughout the decade as the Phillies' right fielder.
17. Greg Luzinski
Greg Luzinski was a force to be reckoned with on the baseball diamond.
The clumsy left fielder wasn't exactly the most graceful defender to ever play the game, but Luzinski wasn't the kind of guy that you wanted to be on the other end of a collision with. He was built like a brick wall.
And while that didn't help him much defensively, offensively, it made him something to behold. When Luzinski squared up a baseball, you knew it. The pitcher knew it. Everyone knew it. And that baseball would travel a long, long way.
The immense power and clumsy defense made the nickname of "The Bull" all too accurate.
16. Jim Bunning
Jim Bunning has lived an interesting life.
The Phillies acquired him from the Detroit Tigers before the 1964 season and it didn't take him long to assert his dominance. In his first season with his new club, Bunning would become the first pitcher in the history of the Phillies franchise to toss a perfect game.
When his playing days were over, Bunning moved on to a new venture—politics. He would eventually become a Senator from Kentucky, and whether or not you agree with his agenda, you can't help but admit that he's lived an impressive life.
15. Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts had one of the most dominating stretches of pitching, not only in franchise history, but in the history of the game.
From 1950-56, Roberts was a machine. He led the league in many categories: wins; games started; complete games; innings pitched; batters faced; BB/9 and SO/BB multiple times.
He was also the ace of one of the most popular teams in franchise history—the 1950 "Whiz Kids."
When his playing days were over, a statue was erected in Roberts' honor; when he passed away, the Phillies proudly wore his number 36 on their uniforms as a tribute.
14. Larry Bowa
Larry Bowa's "fame" in the city of Philadelphia can be broken down into three different narratives.
He joined the organization as an amateur free agent in 1965 and it didn't take long for the slick fielding shortstop to find his way to the MLB. While his bat was questionable at times, Bowa's defense made him a very valuable asset.
The fiery Bowa was an integral part of the Phillies' 1980 World Series title and the several successful years that led up to it.
Following his days as a player, Bowa would return to manage the Phillies in 2001. Though his managerial tenure was met with mixed results, Bowa played a big part in developing the core that would later help the Phillies to their second championship in 2008, though he was gone by then.
After a few seasons away the game, Bowa returned as an analyst for MLB Network.
13. Darren Daulton
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I think that one of the most accurate ways to describe the Phillies' 1993 club without being vulgar is to call them a bunch of "free spirits."
But even free spirits need their leader. For that Phillies club, it was Darren Daulton.
"Dutch," as he's called, was more than just the club's field general as the catcher. While he did an excellent job behind the plate, I'd argue that his toughest task was keeping that locker room on target. They were good enough to win a World Series, but couldn't lose focus.
Daulton wouldn't let them. He was the one to stand up and answer questions in front of the media when times got rough or step up in the batter's box and launch a big home run—the ultimate "two-way player," if you will.
You can catch him on Comcast SportsNet's Phillies Post-Game Live from time to time.
12. John Kruk
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There's no scientific evidence, but it has to be nearly impossible to be more well-liked by this fan base than John Kruk is by Phillies fans.
He came over from the San Diego Padres in a trade and after a short experiment in left field, settled in as the Phillies' first baseman. He was the perfect fit.
As a contact-hitter, Kruk wasn't your prototypical first baseman. He didn't have much power. That didn't stop him from being one of the Phillies' most dynamic offensive players, however.
At his core, Kruk was a fun-loving goofball who'd rather be called a "baseball player" than a "professional athlete" and I think that showed. All he wanted to do was enjoy himself.
Now, he's a popular analyst for ESPN.
11. Cole Hamels
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It's hard to leave a guy nicknamed "Hollywood" off of a list about fame. Cole Hamels certainly plays the part.
Born and raised in California, the Phillies drafted Hamels out of high school and he has developed into one of the best starting pitchers in them game today—a perennial Cy Young contender.
Even at just 28 years old, Hamels already ranks amongst the Phillies' top 10 in numerous pitching categories, which by most accounts makes him one of the greatest pitchers that this organization has ever seen. And he can only go up.
Hamels has appeared in numerous advertisements for various companies, including the incredibly popular video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
He is also involved in a number of charity events and even has one of his own, The Hamels Foundation.
10. Curt Schilling
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Curt Schilling is an interesting guy.
But the Phillies were the perfect organization to take on a cheap arm with upside at the time and that's exactly what they did. This one panned out.
It didn't take long for Schilling to assert himself as an overpowering strikeout pitcher as a member of the Phillies and rack up 1,554 strikeouts in just nine seasons—including the 1993 campaign when he was the ace of a World Series team.
Schilling didn't win that one, but it was only a matter of time. After the Phillies traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Schilling would help the Snakes to a World Series title. He'd win two more with the Boston Red Sox.
Schilling's life after baseball has been...interesting...to say the least. He's done everything from jumping into politics, to working for ESPN as an analyst, to owning a gaming company.
9. Pete Rose
Relatively speaking, Pete Rose's tenure with the Phillies wasn't a long one—just five seasons.
But in that span of five seasons, I'm not sure that any one player has ever done a better job of personifying the way that Phillies' fans believe the game should be played: nonstop hustle with an extra dose of grit.
And that's what made Rose famous in Philadelphia.
Well, he also helped the club capture its first World Series title, and while I'd usually be a little wary of saying things like, "He taught them how to win," it's hard to argue with the results.
Three trips to the National League Championship Series without him from 1976-78—three failures. One trip to the World Series with him in 1980—one win.
And that pretty much sums up the career of "Charlie Hustle:" Endless energy, incredible hustle, lots of grit and a whole bunch of winning.
8. Chase Utley
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Chase Utley is the favorite player of a lot of kids in this city. Why? Because he plays the game with a certain intensity that the people of Philadelphia can only summarize as "the right way."
Before a chronic knee condition nearly brought his career to a grinding halt, Utley was on pace to jump into the conversation of "greatest second baseman of all time."
Utley's on-field talent makes him the greatest second baseman in the history of the Phillies franchise, but his off-field contribution helped make him famous. He is a well-known contributor to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
He also appeared on an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia alongside Ryan Howard.
7. Tug McGraw
If this isn't the most iconic photo in Phillies' history, I'm struggling to find one that's more appropriate.
The Phillies had waited a long time for their first World Series title. When you consider that the organization has existed since 1883, it's kind of depressing to think about it.
97 years. That's how long it took. From the moment the Phillies threw their first pitch in 1883 to the moment that Tug McGraw threw his hands up in the air celebrating the first title: 97 years.
I could sit here and write out a long slide about what makes McGraw famous in Philadelphia, but I don't have to. Any Phillies' fan with a passing knowledge of their team's history already knows his story.
Honorable Mention: Brad Lidge: 2008 was excellent. Nothing else was close.
6. Ryan Howard
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It didn't take long for Ryan Howard to become famous, especially in the city of Philadelphia.
Concerns in his swing and defensive ability helped him to fly under the radar a bit before he was drafted, but when he began swinging the bat as a member of the Phillies, people took note.
Before long, he was forcing a future Hall of Famer out the door and taking over at first base in the MLB. He won the Rookie of the Year award, and a year later, was named the MVP.
Hitting home runs at a historic pace made him famous in all baseball circles, and it helped launch a career outside of the game. Howard is a sponsor for numerous companies, including Subway, and appeared on an episode of both It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Entourage.
5. Richie Ashburn
Richie Ashburn is one of the most recognizable names in Philly sports history.
He joined the club as an amateur free agent in 1945 and it didn't take long for him to become a favorite amongst the fans, largely because of his style of play: all hustle, all the time.
Ashburn was a member of the popular 1950 Phillies team that would become known as the "Whiz Kids" and in 1995 he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame.
"Whitey" took his fame in Philadelphia to a completely different level when he joined Harry Kalas in the Phillies' broadcast booth. They were a hit among the fans and easily one of the greatest broadcasting duos in the history of baseball.
4. Jimmy Rollins
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If there's any one player on this list that embraces the whole "fame" aspect of baseball, it's Jimmy Rollins.
The Phillies' shortstop busted onto the scene back in 2000 and has been a member of the club's middle infield ever since. During that time he's done everything from predict a division title to win an MVP Award.
While he made his name on the field, Rollins has become very influential in the community as well. He has a hand in various community outreach programs, campaigned for President Barrack Obama in 2008 and actually owns his own record label called Bay Sluggas Inc.
3. Harry Kalas
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Harry Kalas wasn't a player, but he was the voice of the Phillies. He was easily one of the most iconic voices in the history of sports and few pairs of team and broadcaster could have been more inseparable.
The Phillies and Harry Kalas. They just went together. There was a time when Phillies fans wanted nothing more than to plop down in front of the TV and catch the game because it also meant that you would have a moment to listen to Kalas talk about baseball.
Even when he did other work, like some of his famous voice-overs for NFL films, people didn't say, "Oh, that sounds like Harry Kalas."
They said, "That's Harry Kalas: Voice of the Phillies."
2. Steve Carlton
Steve Carlton was a good fit for the Phillies, and not just because he wound up being one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game.
He always seemed to be pitching with a chip on his shoulder and I think that's what made him great. That's how you have to pitch in the city of Philadelphia. If this city gets under your skin, you're not going to succeed.
And all Carlton did was succeed.
He won 329 games in his career, captured four Cy Young awards (all as a member of the Phillies) and struck out 4,136 batters.
But when Carlton was pitching, you knew it. He drew fans to the ball park and that helped make him famous.
1. Mike Schmidt
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If there's one name that is synonymous with the Phillies, it has to be Mike Schimdt.
Arguably the greatest third baseman of all time, Schmidt made a career out of destroying baseballs and spent every moment of said career as a member of the Phillies.
When he retired in 1989, Schmidt had hit 548 home runs and won three MVP awards. He is one of just five men with a statue outside of Citizens Bank Park. If a statue doesn't make you famous, I don't know what does.