Philadelphia Phillies: The 20 Most Beloved Players in Team History
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Before the start of the 2011 season, Jonathan Chang, a Facebook data scientist led a study of all the baseball fan bases in the country. In his findings, he found that Philadelphia Phillies fans were the most loyal.
Philadelphia is a tough town; it's blue-collar. They root for their teams with passion and do not tolerate players who fail to put forth their best effort on every play.
When they feel that a player is giving it their all on every play, they'll adore you for all of eternity.
When they don't, well, then the "boo-birds" come out.
Who Missed the Cut?
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This was extremely difficult for me to cut this list down to 20.
Before I get to the list, there were some notable exclusions including Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard, Jim Bunning, Mitch Williams, Aaron Rowand, Matt Stairs, Granny Hamner, Pat Burrell, Billy Hamilton, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Chuck Klein, John Vukovich and Chris Short to name a few.
Honorable Mention: Harry Kalas
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You can certainly make the argument that Harry Kalas is the most beloved sports figure in Philadelphia sports history.
Oh, what pipes he had.
20. Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay
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Cliff Lee's only started 28 career games as a Phillie, not even a full season's worth, yet he's on this list. He'll be higher once his career is over in Philadelphia.
He turned down more money from the evil empire to come back to Philly.
His performance in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series will always be remembered; a complete game 10 strikeout masterpiece while only allowing six hits and zero earned runs.
As for Roy Halladay, two no-hitters in the same season will make anyone beloved.
19. Randy Wolf
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There was Person's People, the Duck Pond, Padilla's Flotilla's, the Daal House, but no fan group was more popular during the early 2000s than the Wolf Pack.
When the Dodgers played the Phillies during the 2009 NLCS, Randy Wolf started Game 4 of that series and was cheered.
Vicente Padilla, who started Game 5, was booed.
18. Carlos Ruiz
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In the regular season, Carlos Ruiz doesn't put up the best offensive numbers, but once October comes around Senor Octubre comes out to play.
In 41 postseason games played, Chooch has a .280 batting average with four home runs, 15 RBI and 18 runs scored.
17. Lenny Dykstra
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Despite all of the legal troubles he's gotten himself into over recent years, Lenny Dykstra is still one of the most beloved Phillies in team history.
The dude was infamous for his low-crouching batting stance and always having a wad of tobacco in his mouth.
Nails finished second in the 1993 NL MVP voting. Out of the leadoff spot, he hit .305 while leading the league in hits (194), runs (143) and walks (129).
In a losing 15-14 effort in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series, Dykstra went 3-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.
16. Larry Bowa
Larry Bowa always overcame the odds. He never made his high school baseball team.
He played his college ball at Sacramento City College where former Phillies scout Eddie Bockman discovered him. The fiery Bowa got ejected in the first inning of both games of a double-header.
Bockman invited Bowa to the 1965 rookie league. He told Bowa the only way he'd stay was if he'd keep his cool during games.
In the minors, he wasn't projected to be anything more than a utility infielder. He was an amazing gloveman at short with a solid arm, but he couldn't hit a lick.
He was told the only way he'd be playing every day was if he'd learn how to switch-hit. Although he never knocked the cover off the ball, he wound up playing in the bigs for 16 seasons.
15. Jimmy Rollins
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Whenever you proclaim your team as the team to beat, and then come through on that promise, you'll be a legend in Philadelphia forever.
That proclamation came before the 2007 season, the year Jimmy Rollins won the NL MVP Award.
In 2007, Rollins hit .296 with 30 home runs, 41 SB and 94 RBI. He led the league in runs (136) and triples (20).
14. Bob Boone
Bob Boone is the best defensive catcher in franchise history, but he was originally drafted as a pitcher and third baseman in 1969.
It wasn't until 1972 that the Phillies decided to convert him into a catcher. There was already a plethora of third baseman in the system.
He won seven gold gloves during his stellar 19-year career.
13. Gavvy Cravath
Before 1918, the first year Babe Ruth led all of baseball in home runs, there was Gavvy Cravath.
He was the premier power hitter of the 1910's. He led the NL in home runs in 6-of-7 seasons from 1913-1919 with 1916 being the lone exception. Listed below are his home run totals from those seven years.
- 1913- 19
- 1914- 19
- 1915- 24
- 1916- 11
- 1917- 12
- 1918- 8
- 1919- 12
12. Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor was a slick-fielding second baseman for the Phillies in the 1960s and 1970s.
His most famous defensive play came against the Mets in 1964 during Jim Bunning's perfect game.
In the fifth inning of that game, he made a diving stop on a sharply hit ball by the Mets' Jesse Gonder.
11. Pete Rose
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As a Cincinnati Red, there was no player hated as much in Philadelphia as Pete Rose.
It's funny how things change.
The Phillies signed Rose as a free agent in 1979. He had the veteran intangibles that wound up being the missing link for the eventual 1980 World Series Champions.
His most famous moment as a Phillie came in Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. Frank White popped one up down the first base line. Bob Boone got under it, but the ball glanced off his mit. Rose, who backed up Boone on the play, made the catch.
One out later, the Phillies had their first World Series crown in franchise history.
10. Greg Luzinski
Greg Luzinski played catcher and first base in high school but was converted to the outfield in the bigs.
The Bull had his best years between 1975-1978 when he made the All-Star team all four of those seasons. He was the NL top vote-getter in 1978.
The slugger finished second in the NL MVP voting in 1975 and 1977. He hit .300 with 34 bombs and 120 RBI in 1975. In 1977, he hit .309 with 39 home runs and 130 RBI.
9. Ed Delahanty
Ed Delahanty was the best hitter of the 1890s.
Nicknamed "Big Ed" because of his immense strength, Delahanty hit over .400 three times. He had a career batting average of .346.
He was one of five brothers to make the big leagues.
8. Darren Daulton
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Darren "Dutch" Daulton was a key cog on the 1993 Phillies National League pennant-winning squad.
He led the NL in RBI in 1992 with 109. Daulton drove in 105 the following season.
Knee injuries really derailed his career. Last year, Daulton became the first member from the 1993 team to be enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
7. Chase Utley
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Chase Utley only knows how to play the game of baseball one way...hard. He's a hitter, a worker and a winner. He's as old-fashioned as they come these days.
Utley gets through the hitting zone so quickly because of his extremely quick hands.
He tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in a single World Series with five against the Yankees in 2009. Three of them came off C.C. Sabathia, including the two he hit in Game 1 against the southpaw. He became the second left-handed hitter to hit two home runs against an opposing lefty in a World Series game. The first...Babe Ruth.
6. Johnny Callison
For Philadelphian's who grew up in the early 1960s, chances are Johnny Callison was your favorite Phillie.
The right fielder had really solid gap power, could run the bases and had a hose for an arm.
He led all of baseball in triples twice...1962 (10) and 1965 (16). He posted double-digit triple seasons for five consecutive years from 1961-1965.
He's most famously known for hitting a walk-off, three-run home run in the 1964 All-Star Game.
5. Robin Roberts
Robin Roberts, just 23, was the ace of the 1950 "Whiz Kids" squad.
He finished 20-11 that season, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to win 20 games since 1917. That year marked the first of six consecutive 20-plus win seasons.
In 1952, Roberts recorded 28 wins, the most victories in the National League in 50 years.
He threw hard and relied on the control and movement of his fastball.
4. John Kruk
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John Kruk was the leader of "Macho Row" in 1993.
He never claimed to be an athlete, but he was a baseball player.
Although he was a bit thickish, Kruk wasn't a power hitter. His career-high...just 21 in 1991. He was a patient line drive hitter who always came through in the clutch.
He led all Phillies hitters with a .348 batting average in the 1993 World Series against Toronto.
3. Steve Carlton
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Steve Carlton rarely talked to the press, and by 1978, he stopped talking to them all together. He put cotton in his ears when he pitched, but Philadelphia fans adored "Lefty."
In my opinion, his slider was the second-best in history behind Randy Johnson's "Mr. Snappy." When Carlton had his slider going, the best a hitter could do was slap it foul down the third base line.
His 1972 season was his finest. He won 27 of Philadelphia's 59 games, an MLB record 45.8 percent of the team's wins.
Carlton finished his career with 329 wins, a 3.22 ERA and he's fourth on the all-time strikeout list with 4,136 punchouts.
2. Tug McGraw
During the 1980 Phillies postseason run, Tug McGraw appeared in all five games of the NLCS and four of six games in the World Series.
In Game 6 of the 1980 World Series, the Phillies needed just one out to claim their first World Championship in team history. They had a 4-1 lead, but Kansas City had the bases loaded. Leadoff hitter Willie Wilson stepped up to the plate.
Policeman on horseback had already started to gather around the left field and right field foul lines.
An exhausted McGraw looked at all of the horses and thought to himself "If I don't get out of this inning, that's what I'm going to be in this city. Nothing but a pile of horse sh@t."
McGraw started Wilson off with a screwball for strike one.
Police officers with K-9's came on to patrol the dugouts.
Wilson fouled off a slider for strike two. After a high fastball, the count stood at 1-2.
Glancing over towards the dugout, McGraw saw all of the K-9's and thought, "K-9, this is the ninth inning and I need a K."
McGraw wound up and threw his "Peggy Lee" fastball (Is that all there is? Meaning a slow fastball).
He stated it was the slowest fastball in Phillies history because it took 97 years to reach home plate.
1. Richie Ashburn
For 50 years, Richie "Whitey" Ashburn was baseball to this town.
As a player, Ashburn debuted in 1948 at the ripe age of 21. He hit .333 with a league-leading 32 stolen bases.
He was the catalyst for the 1950 NL Pennant winning team. He didn't have the strongest arm, but his throw to cut off Brooklyn's Cal Abrams in the ninth inning of the final regular season game saved the Phillies' season. Dick Sisler hit a three-run home run in the 10th to beat the Dodgers 4-1.
Ashburn played in the same era as Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider, so his accomplishments in center field tended to be overshadowed. He didn't get voted into the Hall of Fame until 1995.
The officials from the Hall of Fame stated that 15,000 Phillies fans came to witness the enshrinement. It was the largest turnout ever.
The prototypical leadoff hitter had a .308 career batting average and .396 OBP over his 15-year career. He averaged 172 hits and 88 runs a season.
A year after his playing days were over in 1962, he joined the Phillies broadcast team. He called it like he saw it. When you heard him say "Oh, brother" you knew that the Phillies weren't playing up to his expectations.
Although he never won that coveted World Series Title, he finally got a taste from the broadcast booth as he looked on when Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson to send Philadelphia into complete euphoria in 1980.