Philadelphia Phillies: Ranking the 25 Greatest Leaders in Franchise History
When an organization has existed for 128 years, it is bound to have a few great leaders pass through its ranks. The Philadelphia Phillies are certainly no different, and be it a lead-by-example kind of guy, a vocal presence, or the perfect blend of leadership qualities, the Phils have had their fair share of candidates.
Every successful team has its leader, or leaders, for that matter. Whether that leader is an on-the-field general, a leader from the dugout, or a presence that simply inspires those that wear the uniform, the Phillies preach the importance of "clubhouse characters" for a reason.
The following slide show will examine the 25 greatest leaders the Phillies have ever had, and their importance to the teams that they've inspired.
25. Pat Moran
Long before the 1980 season, Pat Moran nearly managed the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series title—a title that would forever change the history of the organization, but needless to say, that never happened. Moran took over as the manager of the Phils before the 1915 season, leading the club to their first World Series appearance against the Boston Red Sox.
Led by the exploits of ace Pete Alexander, Moran had some talent to manage. Gavvy Cravath and Fred Luderus paced the offense, and Eppa Rixey joined Alexander in the starting rotation. However, as his tenure grew, the talent dispersed. Moran still managed to 323 games for the Phillies over a four year span, posting a winning percentage of .557.
24. Danny Ozark
Look back on Danny Ozark's career as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, you could analyze his tenure, in a broad sense, in one of two ways.
First and foremost, you could call him the patriarch of the 1980 World Series Championship team. Though he wasn't at the helm when the trophy was raised, he helped to cultivate the Phillies into a winning team. Ozark spent seven seasons as manager of the Phillies, beginning in 1973 and ending in 1979, when he was replaced mid-season.
During that seven-year span, however, he managed a ton of talent, including Mike Schmidt, helping him to 594 wins. He led the Phillies to three first place finishes, but was never able to capture a National League pennant.
That fact, of course, leads us to the second school of thought—the one that states that Ozark helped to cultivate a talented team that just couldn't get the job done. The Phillies had the pieces to win, but Ozark was never able to lead them to a National League pennant, and ultimately, a World Series.
Regardless of what you believe, Ozark was one of the greatest managers the Phillies have ever had, and a very capable leader.
23. David Montgomery
You won't find many owners of the Philadelphia Phillies on this list for a simple reason: They haven't had many good ones. In fact, I debated with myself for a while on whether or not a team owner could be considered a "team leader," and came to the conclusion that David Montgomery (representing the current ownership group) is the only one.
Make no bones about it, when Montgomery took over as the team's President in 1997, the culture began a gradual change from annual joke to contender. Willing to spend more money than his predecessor Bill Giles, Montgomery became invested in the baseball operations side of the franchise, showing a willingness to spend on draft picks, building a solid core.
Under his watch the Phillies lured Jim Thome to town—a move that many believe changed the course of the franchise—thanks in large part to moving out of the dump that had become of Veterans Stadium and into a beautiful new ballpark, Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have won five straight division titles and a World Series with Montgomery at the helm, and with one of the league's top payrolls, this could be just the beginning.
Photo borrowed from CSNPhilly.com
22. Larry Bowa
Larry Bowa is one of the unique characters on this list that is ranked because of his versatility in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies.
As a player, Bowa signed with the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1965 and would go on to spend 12 seasons with the club. One of the best defensive players the organization has ever seen, Bowa would help the Phillies capture their first World Series title in 1980, as well as several of those first place finished we discussed on the Danny Ozark slide.
Many years later he would return to the city of Philadelphia, becoming the Phillies' manager in 2001 and spending four seasons in that role. He helped begin the transition of the franchise from annual loser to a winning club, paving the way for Charlie Manuel and the success that the Phils would have in recent years.
21. John Kruk
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In order for the 1993 version of the Philadelphia Phillies to be successful, there was going to have to be more than one strong presence in the clubhouse, and John Kruk helped to fill that role after coming over from the San Diego Padres.
A very good hitter in his own right, Kruk helped anchor a very successful Phillies lineup during the '93 season, helping to lead the club to the World Series, and though they'd eventually lose that series, there is no doubt that without Kruk's presence in the clubhouse, they may not have even made it that far.
One of the strangest, yet most inspirational, quotes from Kruk came prior to that championship run, when a reporter asked him what it was like to play with former Atlanta Braves' star, Dale Murphy. Kruk responded by saying, "We've got 24 morons and a Mormon." It was that mindset that, believe it or not, made the 1993 Phillies team successful.
20. Brad Lidge
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When the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Brad Lidge from the Houston Astros before the 2008 season, they weren't in the market for a clubhouse leader. They were in the market for a closer. After a perfect season in '08, they had received the best of both worlds, but Lidge's struggles over the next couple of seasons are well documented.
The injuries and underwhelming performances were tough to stomach, but Lidge took his failure in stride and kept upbeat in the bullpen, not allowing his personal performance to disrupt the team's chemistry. Though he struggled, the Phillies found ways to win, and a lot of that has to do with Lidge's personality.
Widely regarded as a leader in the clubhouse, especially in the bullpen, Lidge's "good-guy" reputation made him a valuable asset in the midst of one of roughest portions of his career, and that reputation has plenty of teams interested in the veteran reliever this winter.
19. Bob Boone
An invaluable member of the 1980 World Series team, Bob Boone certainly didn't have his work cut out for him. Sure, he had the luxury of catching Steve Carlton, but outside of "Lefty," he worked with an interesting blend of veterans and young talent, and found ways to make them win.
Boone's work behind the plate made the Philadelphia Phillies a great team. Well known for his ability to call games, pitchers liked throwing to him and he liked making hitters look silly. A great catcher on both sides of the ball, it was Boone's defensive work that made him shine, and gave him the inbred ability to be a leader.
Honorable Mention: Sounds a lot like Carlos Ruiz on today's team, does it not? Boone and "Chooch" share a lot of qualities, but the latter has some work to do to catch up with the former.
18. Pat Gillick
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It's not every day that a front office executive is inducted into the Hall of Fame, and even more of a rare occasion when that executive was once general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, but that is exactly the case for Pat Gillick, who helped build the 2008 version of the Phillies and bring the World Series back to Philadelphia.
With a talented group of core players in place, Gillick went out and brought complementary pieces to Philadelphia. First and foremost, he struck a deal with the Houston Astros, landing Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett—integral pieces of that club. He signed Jayson Werth, JC Romero, Chad Durbin, Greg Dobbs, and Geoff Jenkins to free agent contracts, and helped build the clubs future by drafting players like Domonic Brown, Kyle Drabek, and Anthony Gose.
In valuing his actual importance to the club, the question must be asked: Would the Phillies have won the World Series in 2008 without him?
Honorable Mention: It is probably unfair to honor Gillick without mentioning Ed Wade. The former Phillies' GM was at the helm of the front office when the club drafted Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell, among others.
17. Jim Bunning
Jim Bunning was born a leader, plain and simple.
With the Philadelphia Phillies, he was the anchor at the top of the starting rotation that made the club jive. Though he was overworked by manager Gene Mauch down the stretch, the Phillies would have been lost in the sauce without Bunning before they even had the chance to "phold" in 1964, when he won 19 games and posted an ERA of 2.63.
He gave it his all every time he took the mound, even when there was no gas left in the tank. That workman's effort that made him a Hall of Fame pitcher eventually led him into politics, and though you may or may not agree with his political views (which is neither here nor there,) that effort eventually made him Senator Bunning, no longer the ace of the Phils.
16. Roy Halladay
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Roy Halladay is more of a "lead by example" kind of guy. Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2010 season, there was a widespread belief that Halladay would be able to excel moving into a much less demanding National League East, but the way he tore right through the NL was completely unforeseen. Short and simple, he prepared better than everyone else, worked harder than anyone else, and pitched better than anyone else, helping himself to the NL Cy Young in 2010.
It was that effort that had an obvious impact on his teammate. First and foremost, Cole Hamels transformed himself into one of the league's best left handed starters, and Halladay was constantly setting the bar higher for teammate Cliff Lee in 2011, pushing both he and Hamels to match his mark.
Simply put, in the clubhouse and on the field, Doc is invaluable.
15. Paul Owens
When the Philadelphia Phillies name an award in your honor commemorating the best Minor League players in the organization from year to year, you know you must have done something right during your career. That, of course, is the Paul Owens Award, named after the former Phillies manager and general manager.
Owens probably isn't remembered much for his work as the field manager, given two rather unsuccessful seasons. However, after he took over the club in 1983, the Phillies posted a record of 47-30 and made a return trip to the World Series—a series they'd eventually lose to a talented Baltimore Orioles club.
His greatest talent was in the front office, where he took over as the director of the Phillies' farm system and built a winning club, bringing in crucial parts of the 1980 championship team like Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Bob Boone, Larry Bowa, and Dick Ruthven. He complemented them by bringing in other talented players via trade, like Garry Maddox, Tug McGraw, and Bake McBride.
That core of players made three straight postseason appearances, but simply couldn't advance to the World Series. Owens went out and made a splash by signing Pete Rose, and in the second year of his contract, the Phils were World Champions.
14. Pete Alexander
Part of being a leader is being able to put your money where your mouth is, and every time that Pete Alexander took the mound, the Philadelphia Phillies had a great opportunity to win the ball game. He won 190 games in just eight season, posting a winning percentage of .676. Three times with the Phillies Alexander won at least 30 games in a season, nearly accomplishing the feat two more times but finishing just shy.
The man is in the Hall of Fame for a reason, and if you had to choose one starting pitcher to lead your club into battle, I am positive that Alexander will have crossed your mind at some point.
13. Tug McGraw
An MLB roster is kind of like a college. It draws the most talented players to its ranks, kind of like a college draws some of the most gifted minds. Within that college is a group known as a fraternity, and well, that fraternity in baseball is the bullpen. It houses a bunch of talented pitchers but from the outside, they seem kind of strange.
Tug McGraw was the fraternity's leader. He was the most talented of the bunch but the wackiest. The city of Philadelphia loved him because of his hard-nosed, blue-collar style of baseball that made him the closer of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The bullpen was one of the strongest portions of the 1980 Phillies' club, and they were led into battle by the rubber-armed McGraw. He pitched in nearly every game during that postseason, and after he was able to hoist that trophy over his head, summed up the Phils' efforts best, saying, "All through baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat to New York City. Well, New York City can take this world championship and stick it! 'Cause we're number one!"
12. Richie Ashburn
A lot of times having a consistent hitter at the top of your lineup can be all of the leadership that a club needs, and Richie Ashburn certainly did that for the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .311 over 12 seasons as the Phils' center fielder, making four trips to the All-Star Game as the team's representative and leading them into battle in 1,794 games.
However, Ashburn is much more than that to the city of Philadelphia. When his playing career was finished, he made his way into the broadcast booth where his candor and knowledge of the game helped inspire a craze for baseball in Philly.
11. Pete Rose
By the time that Pete Rose joined the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent prior to the 1979 season, he had already learned a thing or two about winning. He had won two World Series titles as a member of the Cincinnati Reds' "Big Red Machine." He was the owner of a National League MVP Award, and had made 12 trips to the All-Star Game.
General manager Paul Owens was well aware of that when he temporarily made Rose the highest paid free agent in history in the winter of 1979. The Phillies were a talented group coming off of three straight trips to the postseason, but they hadn't done the one thing that Rose had been doing throughout his career—win.
By many accounts, Rose taught the Phillies how to win ball games. In his second season with the club, the Phillies won the World Series, and would later make a return trip in 1983. His grit and hard-nosed style of play made him not only a fan-favorite, but a born leader, and the Phillies followed him to a World Series.
10. Robin Roberts
Would the "Whiz Kids" have been the same without Robin Roberts at the front of their rotation? At just 23-years-old, Roberts was already a force to be reckoned with in Major League Baseball, propelling the 1950 version of the Philadelphia Phillies to the World Series to square off with the New York Yankees, ultimately failing to get the job done.
That run to the World Series would begin one of the most dominant stretched of pitching of all-time, when Roberts would reel off six straight seasons of 20 or more wins, adding nearly a seventh with 19 wins in 1956. He had a stranglehold on all of the league's durability statistics, including games started and innings pitched, making him a valuable leader to the Phillies.
However, he and so many other players on that 1950 club would give the honor of "clubhouse leader" to a different, lesser known player...
9. Andy Seminick
At just 29-years-old in 1950, Andy Seminick wasn't your generic "veteran" player. However, because he had been in the league for a few years, he was forced into that role by a much young roster behind him, a role that he gladly accepted and excelled in.
The starting catcher for the "Whiz Kids," Seminick played a huge role in the Philadelphia Phillies' run to the World Series in 1950, tasked with handling a talented, but young, pitching staff that included names like Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons, and Bob Miller.
Known as more of an offensive catcher earlier in his career, Seminick had become a much better defensive backstop, particularly as far as calling a game was concerned, and he was a huge part in the success of that young pitching staff, his clubhouse leadership propelling the team as a whole.
Now a member of the Hall of Fame, Roberts once said this about Seminick: "If you had to pick a guy in the clubhouse who was our leader that year, it would be Andy. He always played hard, and that was his best year by far."
8. Jim Thome
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Hands down, Jim Thome is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Few men will be able to replicate the success that he has had on the diamond, and even fewer will be able to replicate the leadership qualities he possesses. His versatile personality makes him a fit for any team in baseball, be it as a veteran mentor, a guy who can stay positive in tough times, or whatever other scenario you could ponder, Thome can get you through it.
With a bat in his hands and his name on the lineup card, Thome is a force to be reckoned with at the plate. Off the field, he is credited with bringing a winning culture with him to the Philadelphia Phillies; a culture that would continue through this day.
Thome has done just about everything a baseball player can do, but without that World Series ring, what's the point? That is why he has returned to Philadelphia, where his leadership qualities and drive for that championship will be beneficial to the club. A future Hall of Famer, no doubt, I look forward to seeing Thome as a manager some day.
7. Steve Carlton
Baseball players are drawn to the game for the same reason that any competitor is drawn to competition—that fighting spirit. Athletes are born with a will to win, and though in baseball there are at least nine innings to be played for an outcome to be determined, having a dominant starting pitcher on the bump sure makes winning easier.
Just ask the Philadelphia Phillies and the players that have played behind Steve Carlton.
There aren't many players that could become leaders on skill alone, but "Lefty" was one of them. Every time he touched the baseball he had the ability to help the Phillies win a ball game, and over the course of a 15-year career with the Phils, Carlton was credited with 241 wins.
Carlton's accolades are endless, including four Cy Young Awards. However, as far as the Phillies are concerned, his greatest accolade is the simple fact that he was the anchor, the ace, of that 1980 World Series team.
6. Mike Schmidt
Any time that Mike Schmidt stepped to the plate, the Philadelphia Phillies felt like they had the opportunity to score at least one run. Though he has never been a man to shy away from a quote, Schmidt was the type of guy who led with his bat. In a close game, he could turn the tide in an at-bat. If you were down by a few, he could pull the game closer and if you were up by a few, he could put it away.
The greatest player this franchise has ever seen, Schmidt was the anchor of the lineup during the 1980 World Series and many years prior to that, and when the team returned to the World Series a few seasons later in 1983, he was once again at the forefront of the offensive attack.
A three-time MVP, Schmidt still consults with the Phillies to this day, helping to breed the next great player for the club.
5. Chase Utley
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Chase Utley has never been a vocal guy. In good times and bad times, he doesn't spill his heart to the media, and getting a quote from the Philadelphia Phillies' second baseman is sort of like uncovering the National Treasure. Utley is more of a lead by example kind of guy. The kind of guy who goes about his business the only way he knows how—the right way.
Throughout his entire career, Utley has been that hard-nosed type of player that the city of Philadelphia absolutely loves. He runs hard, swings the bat well, and just plays the game the right way. As his career has progressed, he has become even more of the clubhouse leader. He may lead by example, but you better be playing hard or he'll be on your case.
Perhaps no one summed it up better than the legendary Harry Kalas, who simply said of him, "Chase Utley, you are the man!"
4. Jimmy Rollins
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Jimmy Rollins, on the other hand, is kind of like the anti-Chase Utley. Both have been known as clubhouse leaders of the Philadelphia Phillies over the course of their careers, but have gone about it in different fashions. Rollins is one of the few players that has played with the Phillies in the good times and the bad, and he has been quite vocal about it. In fact, he's been quite vocal period, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Rollins, who recently completed his 12th season with the Phils, now famously predicted that the Phillies were the "team to beat" entering the 2007 season—a season in which the Phils would first put a stranglehold on the NL East crown.
If Utley is the "lead by example" leader, Rollins is just the opposite. He is the type of personality that will try and pump his team up; get the adrenaline flowing. Simply put, he is one of the greatest leaders this organization has ever had, and deserves to be a lifetime Phillie.
3. Charlie Manuel
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A lot of people believe that the manager's position is vastly overrated, and that may be true. However, in regards to Charlie Manuel and the impact he has on a baseball club, the qualities of his ability to lead a team are difficult to ignore. He took over as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005 and has collected 646 wins since—the most in the history of the franchise.
Yes, he has had an unbelievable amount of talent under his control, especially in the most recent years. However, his impact on completing the development of hitters like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley simply cannot be denied. He has had a long lasting impact on Jim Thome, who credits Manuel with a lot of his Major League success.
Managing a baseball game is one thing, but managing personalities and egos is another, and no one does the latter better than Manuel.
T-1. Harry Kalas
Harry Kalas was the embodiment of the Philadelphia Phillies' franchise. He joined the organization in 1971 and for nearly four decades, his voice would be welcomed into the homes of Phillies' fans, wherever they may have tuned in. He was the voice of the Phillies, through the good and the bad. He called Mike Schmidt's 500th home run and the 2008 World Series, and every meaningless game the Phillies played throughout the mid to late 1990s.
His pairing with Hall of Fame player Richie Ashburn in the broadcast booth was pure gold, and the two would captivate one of the most sports-crazed cities in the world. However, his impact on the Phillies ran much deeper than the broadcast booth.
He had an unrivaled passion for the game, and former players, and current players, for that matter, often tell stories about how Harry was always there for them; always asking questions, simply hanging out, and encouraging them to be the best he can be.
He was truly so intertwined with the Phillies' organization that he became much more than that. He was the Phillies. He was a member of our family, and no man will ever be able to replace him.
T-1. Darren Daulton
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Putting anyone ahead of Harry Kalas is difficult, and in the long run, I just couldn't do it. Harry was the voice of the organization and his leadership spanned nearly 40 years. However, it was hard to ignore this man, Darren Daulton, so we'll call it a tie for first place.
The 1993 version of the Philadelphia Phillies were an interesting bunch, no doubt. Nothing they did looked easy, what with their beer guts and mullets. They weren't supposed to win. Looking back, it isn't too hard to draw comparisons between the '93 Phillies and the Cleveland Indians led by Jack Taylor and Ricky Vaughn in Major League.
At the end of the day, they were just a bunch of free spirits. Lenny Dykstra was always kind of crazy, Dave Hollins was an interesting third baseman, to say the least, and Mitch Williams pitched the ninth inning like his pants were literally on fire—all the time.
How could a team that closely resembled a band of misfits ever succeed without some kind of glue to hold the pieces together?
Well, that glue was Daulton. Drafted by the Phillies out of high school in 1980, Daulton tore up the Minor Leagues before joining the big league club a few seasons later. He was eased into the starting catcher's role, and when he took it, the only thing that forced him to give it up was a slew of injuries.
On the field, Daulton had one of his greatest seasons in '93, when he posted an OPS of .875 and led the Phillies to the World Series. On the defensive side of the ball, he helped turn an average pitching staff into an asset.
People made no bones about Daulton's leadership, especially in the clubhouse, calling him "the greatest clubhouse leader the Phillies have ever had."
He's right up there with Harry Kalas, that's for certain.