25 Philadelphia Phillies Your Kids Can Look Up To

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2012

25 Philadelphia Phillies Your Kids Can Look Up To

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    Raising an aspiring catcher? You will want to sit down and have a conversation with your children about two of the greatest catchers in the history of the Phillies' franchise, Bob Boone and Carlos Ruiz. Where would either of the Phillies' World Series teams be without their respective catchers?

    Both catchers pride themselves on defense, but Boone's game behind the plate was second to none. Though he was never recognized for his work with the bat, it was Boone who controlled the game's pitching, handling guys like Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw and drawing the most out of them, all while being a rock behind the plate.

    Years later, Ruiz approaches the game in much of the same way. He is a defense first catcher with great technique, and understands the importance in controlling the pace of the game by keeping runners in check.

    Handling pitchers has become "Chooch's" specialty. Working with All-Star talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, Ruiz is now recognized as one of the game's best catchers, drawing the best out of the Phillies' staff by calling an excellent game behind the plate and earning the respect of every pitcher he works with.

25. The Old-Time Pitchers

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    When I first put this list together, I left a lot of the "old-time" pitchers out on purpose. The reason was simple: The game has changed so drastically that a lot of kids today view them as pages out of a history textbook.

    In a sense, that view is accurate. The days of more than 30 complete games in a season, close to 400 innings pitched, and 30+ win seasons are a thing of the past. Today's game is more about protecting an investment than letting pitchers throw until their arms feel like Jell-O.

    However, even if their statistics represent unreachable goals in today's game, it would be foolish not to mention some of the Phillies' all-time great pitchers to your children. You should mention that Pete Alexander received MVP votes in six different seasons before the Cy Young Award was created and the MVP Award was dominated by position players.

    Alexander won 190 games with the Phillies to the tune of a 2.80 ERA. He completed more than 200 of his starts and did so while keeping the opposition not only off of the board, but off of the base paths as well, posting a WHIP of 1.075.

    Back in the day, the Phillies' rotation featured a number of dominant pitchers, the likes of which we may never see again. Both Charlie Buffinton and Charlie Ferguson dominated the game for short periods of time, while guys like Dan Casey, Tully Sparks, and Al Orth always fly under the radar.

    These guys are always worth a mention. Let your children know that no goal is unreachable.

24. The Old-Time Hitters

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    Just as was the case with former pitchers, the Phillies have had a number of great hitters wear their uniform and post numbers that can never be replicated in today's game. Though that may be the case, the men behind the bat are certainly worth a mention.

    Take for instance Ed Delahanty. "Big Ed" played for the Phillies for 13 seasons, hitting better than .400 three times. His Phillies' career ended with a stellar OPS of .922 before he passed away in a tragic accident, that no one knows just how he passed.

    Then there is Chuck Klein, who was one of the most feared hitters of his generation. The outfielder won the MVP Award while with the Phillies in 1932, and though he led the league in nearly every offensive category ever created the following season, fell just short of capturing his second straight award.

    Make sure to explore the careers of lesser known Phillies' greats as well, like outfielders Sherry Magee, Roy Thomas, and Billy Hamilton, who though often go unmentioned, all had careers certainly worth talking about.

23. Bob Boone and Carlos Ruiz

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    Raising an aspiring catcher? You will want to sit down and have a conversation with your children about two of the greatest catchers in the history of the Phillies' franchise, Bob Boone and Carlos Ruiz. Where would either of the Phillies' World Series teams be without their respective catchers?

    Both catchers pride themselves on defense, but Boone's game behind the plate was second to none. Though he was never recognized for his work with the bat, it was Boone who controlled the game's pitching, handling guys like Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw and drawing the most out of them, all while being a rock behind the plate.

    Years later, Ruiz approaches the game in much of the same way. He is a defense first catcher with great technique, and understands the importance in controlling the pace of the game by keeping runners in check.

    Handling pitchers has become "Chooch's" specialty. Working with All-Star talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels, Ruiz is now recognized as one of the game's best catchers, drawing the best out of the Phillies' staff by calling an excellent game behind the plate and earning the respect of every pitcher he works with.

22. Chris Short

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    Chris Short may not be the most recognizable Phillie of all-time, but he is the epitome of why it is important to give whatever task is at hand your all every time you have the opportunity to do so.

    Signed as an amateur free agent, Short didn't have much of a defined role for the Phillies early in his career. He bounced back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen, being both an effective reliever and an effective starter.

    By 1964, he was the second part of one of the game's best one-two punches in the starting rotation, taking the ball every five days right after Jim Bunning.

    Twice an All-Star, Short's career goes to show that a player can be valuable to a team in a number of different roles, and that as long as you work hard, you'll eventually find your role with a team.

21. John Kruk

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    At a glance, John Kruk isn't the type of athlete that you would want your kids looking up to, but then again, neither was most of that 1993 Phillies club. However, not even Kruk considered himself an athlete, but a professional baseball player, and that is the essence of why he would be a good role model for aspiring players.

    In an era where being in the best of shape is a necessity for baseball players, Kruk was the definition of why it is important to have that natural born talent, work hard, and be successful. With the beer belly and mullet, Kruk looked like a power hitter through and through, but was anything but.

    Instead, Kruk knew how to play the game. A leader in the clubhouse, the "Krukker" was an excellent contact hitter, and the 1993 Phillies would have been a very different team without him.

20. Garry Maddox

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    Growing up as a kid, playing baseball in the Little Leagues, I remember how kids used to say that playing in the outfield meant that you weren't good enough to play on the infield, but try telling that to former Phillies' outfielder Garry Maddox, who was not only a good offensive player, but one of the best defensive outfielders the Phillies have ever had.

    Nicknamed the "Secretary of Defense" for his excellent work in the outfield, Maddox was the type of player that young people learning to play the outfield should do some research on. Maddox had great baseball instincts, taking great routes towards balls and displaying great reaction time. He covered a ton of ground in center field, playing his home games in spacious Veterans Stadium.

    After his playing career, Maddox became a staple in the Philadelphia community. He hosts several charity events, including the Garry Maddox Barbecue Challenge—an annual, fan-favorite.

19. Larry Bowa

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    You may want to steer clear of raising your children to be like Larry Bowa in his days as the manager of the Phillies, in fear of having them rupture a vein in their forehead from looking so angry all of the time.

    However, on the field, you will definitely want to raise them to appreciate Bowa's defensive work. A shortstop who prides himself on his footwork and accurate throwing arm, Bowa's mechanics were flawless on the field.

    Though just a "Gnat" at the plate, Bowa was a giant on the field when someone needed to step up and play defense. If your raising a shortstop, you'll want him to field like one of the best defensive shortstop the Phillies' franchise has ever had.

18. Darren Daulton

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    Nowadays, Darren Daulton is into some pretty deep stuff off the field that may not be children-friendly, but in his days behind the plate for the Phillies, Daulton was the type of player that kids should aspire to be.

    As the leader of the 1993 club that made a trip to the World Series, Daulton put the team first and when necessary, put them on his back and carried them through an underdog season. The club's vocal leader in the clubhouse, his teammates respected him and the opposition struggled to find ways to handle him.

    He did an excellent job of handling a pitching staff that lacked star power, and behind the plate, was a very solid defensive catcher. At the end of the day, he is a more rounded catcher than some of the other guys on this list, and a player that aspiring catchers should study carefully.

17. Johnny Callison

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    One of baseball's classic "good guys," the Phillies acquire Johnny Callison from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for third baseman Gene Freese, and Callison would go on to spend more than a decade in Philadelphia, becoming one of the greatest players to ever play for the organization.

    He approached the game the right way. Callison was regarded as a humble man, hailing from the state of Oklahoma and never letting success go to his head in a big city like Philadelphia.

    Though he'll be remembered for a number of achievements during his career, one of the rarest was his walk-off home run for the National League All-Stars in 1964.

16. Greg Luzinski

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    He may not have been the most athletic player of all time, but Greg Luzinski had monstrous power, and helped to make big home runs popular in the city of Philadelphia. A humble guy, Luzinski was never the type of guy that you would want to model your defense after, but at the plate, he was a hitter of note.

    Nowadays, technique is analyzed thoroughly, and we know that power is generated through the body. It's no surprise to learn of Luzinski's power when looking at his build, with a strong core and tree trunks for legs, Luzinski looked like the prototypical power hitter, and hit home runs to back up that claim.

    After he retired, Luzinski remained a prominent figure in the community. Still in touch with the Phillies for numerous events throughout the year, he is most recognized for that great restaurant in Citizens Bank Park, Bull's BBQ.

15. Tug McGraw, Mitch Williams, and the Closers

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    The Phillies have had a number of eccentric closers come through their ranks over the course of time, and they know better than any player on the roster what it means to have fun on the field. For your children, teach them that having fun playing the game should the most important goal.

    Show them the World Series celebrations of Tug McGraw and Brad Lidge. Show them the "Wild Thing," Mitch Williams in his prime. These guys, though a bit odd in some circles, know how to have fun playing the game they love, and that's what is important.

14. Curt Simmons

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    If your children are looking for a real baseball role model, tell them the story of former Phillies' pitcher Curt Simmons, and why it is important to never back down.

    Before he signed with the Phillies, Simmons was an outstanding high school baseball player. He was so good that he was named to the high school All-Star team, and picked to start a game for a charity event. Why was that game a charity event? Well, it was against the big league Phillies.

    Simmons took the mound to face a number of established big league players, but never backed down. In fact, he almost won, losing by just a single run.

    That same year, the Phillies signed Simmons as an amateur free agent.

13. Cole Hamels

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    Cole Hamels has come along way since his 2006 MLB debut with the Phillies, in a lot of ways. First and foremost, he has gone from being one of baseball's "very good" starting pitchers to one of the game's best left handed starters, and that in and of itself is a reason to look up to him as a baseball player.

    But Hamels has also evolved as a person. Heading into the 2012 season, Hamels is a much more confident player, willing to accept responsibility for his team's shortcomings, but more importantly, being humble enough to know that baseball is a team sport and a team effort.

    Now the longest tenured member of the Phillies' pitching staff, Hamels is also involved in a number of charity events. He and his family have established a foundation to aid underprivileged children in Africa, called the Hamels Foundation, and the lefty has also contributed to the community with events like a fashion show.

12. Cliff Lee

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    Though a shallow example of what he means to the Phillies and the community, you can use Cliff Lee's story to explain to your children why the game of baseball isn't all about the money. After all, if it were, Lee would be pitching behind CC Sabathia right now and not Roy Halladay.

    With offers from the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers for more money on the table, Lee politely declined those offers to return to the Phillies, and the fan base was thrilled to have him back. Now, with the honeymoon period behind him, Lee will get back to work in 2012 in hopes of capturing a World Series.

    He's also an excellent example of why you don't have to be a "power pitcher" to excel in the MLB. With hard work, Lee has mastered his craft. The best pitch in his repertoire is a well placed fastball, and changing speeds on his pitches is what leads to his success. That's an important part of pitching.

    Off the field, Lee can teach us all a lesson in humility. His son, Jaxon, was diagnosed with leukemia at a very early age, but has battled it into remission. Now, Lee and his family donate to numerous foundations established to battle leukemia, including to the doctor that helped save his son's life.

11. Shane Victorino

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    For some reason, when I was first putting together a list of names for this list, I almost left Shane Victorino off. For reasons still unexplained, the first thing that came to mind when I considered the "Fyin' Hawaiian" for this list was a pair of brawls—with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants—in which tempers flared and he was at the epicenter.

    That's a completely unfair judgement of Victorino's character, and upon later review, I decided that you should raise your children to look up to the Phillies' energetic center fielder, who plays the game with a certain fiery passion that just isn't common place in today's game.

    Victorino plays the game hard, and that can be seen in both his offensive and defensive skill-set. At the plate, Victorino is one of the Phillies' fastest players. He hits for contact and power and runs the bases well, which all aspiring baseball players should learn to do.

    In the field, he has great baseball instincts. Thanks in large part to his speed, he covers a ton of ground in center field and has a strong, accurate throwing arm. Victorino didn't make a single error in 2011!

    It was Victorino's contributions off the field, however, that made me shake my head at that first thought. The Hawaii native is one of the most charitable members of the Phillies' roster. Now the namesake of his own foundation, Victorino's work in the community to help underprivileged children is second to none.

10. Jamie Moyer

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    Jamie Moyer has become basbeall's "ageless wonder," teaching kids around the world that as long as you're young at heart, you're never too old for the game of baseball. Even after having to take the 2011 season off as he rehabbed from Tommy John Surgery, the crafty lefty is looking to make a comeback in 2012, which would be his 25th MLB season.

    Moyer's career began way back in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, went right through the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Seattle Mariners before settling in Philadelphia as a member of the Phillies.

    Moyer has always been about consistency and less about flash. He appeared in just one All-Star Game, and received votes for the Cy Young Award just three times. However, the lefty has also recorded double digits in wins in 15 different seasons, helping his career total to 267—just 20 fewer than the most recent pitcher inducted into the Hall of Fame, Bert Blyleven.

    As he prepares for a comeback, Moyer also has his eyes set on bigger goals. He and his family are the namesake of one of baseball's most recognizable charities, the Moyer Foundation, which is a non-profit organization seeking to aid children in severe distress.

    Moyer serves as an excellent role model. Not only is he a player with a "never say die" attitude, but also a great person with strong clout in the community.

9. Jim Bunning

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    Your kids can look up to former Phillies' starting pitcher Jim Bunning, who is a living, breathing definition of the word fortitude.

    Acquired by the Phillies from the Detroit Tigers, Bunning became the club's ace. He tossed a perfect game against the New York Mets on Father's Day in 1964, his first season with the Phillies. He would go on to win more than 200 games over the course of his career, and was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1996.

    After his baseball career, Bunning would move on to politics. Though you may or may not agree to what he had to say, Bunning would become a United States Senator from Kentucky, employing the same courage that he did on the mound to influence politics.

8. Jimmy Rollins

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    Already the longest tenured, current athlete in Philadelphia sports, Jimmy Rollins signed a three (guaranteed) year deal this winter to extend that streak through, at least, the 2014 season. That's a good thing for the Phillies and all of the shortstop's fans.

    One of the best two-way shortstops in all of baseball, Rollins' potential departure would have left a gaping hole in the Phillies' infield. He is one of the best defenders in the game, with range to both sides of his body, quick feet, and a strong, accurate throwing arm. Pitchers have not been shy about saying how comfortable they are knowing that Rollins is playing the field behind them.

    He's no slouch at the plate either. With speed to burn, Rollins is a rare type of shortstop with the ability to steal bases and hit for power, and is one of just four shortstops in the history of the game to have a 30 home runs, 30 stolen bases season.

    Another of those shortstops, Barry Larkin, was just elected into the Hall of Fame.

    The voice of the Phillies' clubhouse, Rollins also has a voice in the community. He hosts and contributes to a number of charity events, including his annual "BASEbowl" event—a charity bowling tournament for athletes and celebrities held in Philadelphia.

7. Robin Roberts

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    Robin Roberts is more than just one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game, but also one of the greatest people.

    On the field, Roberts had one of the most dominant stretches of starting pitching of all-time. In a stretch of seven seasons, he was named to the All-Star Game seven times and recorded MVP votes from 1950-56, leading the Phillies' staff when they were called the "Whiz Kids" and still as they developed into MLB veterans.

    When all was said and done, Roberts was an easy choice for the Hall of Fame, and the Phillies sculpted a statue in his honor, now located outside of Citizens Bank Park. Roberts stayed loyal to the Phillies throughout the rest of his life, and when he passed away, the Phillies wore patches on their jerseys in his honor.

6. Steve Carlton

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    If your child is an aspiring pitcher, especially a lefty, what better player to look up to than Steve Carlton?

    Though his comments weren't always family-friendly, Carlton's success on the field was a tribute to his incredible work ethic, which was second to none. For more than a decade, Carlton utilized his fastball / slider / curveball (as well as a number of other pitches) repertoire perfectly, dominating the league for more than a decade and capturing a World Series title, as well as four Cy Young Awards.

    Like a number of other Phillies' greats, a statue of Carlton sits outside of Citizens Bank Park, and it would be beneficial of you to tell your children just how great of a pitcher the guy that statue depicts was.

5. Richie Ashburn

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    On the field, Richie Ashburn was an excellent contact hitter. He choked up on the bat to get a head start on the ball, and more often than not, lined it right back up the middle for a single, showing perfect timing. In fact, that was the name of the game for Ashburn. Hit a single to get on base, and then steal second. That's what got him the name "Put-Put."

    Also a great defensive center fielder, Ashburn was an excellent all around player, showing that once again, a well-rounded athlete makes a great baseball player.

    After his career on the field had ended, "Whitey" moved into the broadcast booth and teamed up with Harry Kalas, becoming the greatest broadcasting duo in the history of Philadelphia sports. His passion for the game was second to none, and still today, he is missed by the city, the team, and the sport of baseball.

4. Harry Kalas

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    Harry Kalas may have never played for the Phillies, but he was an inseparable part of the Phillies' family, which extends into the homes of each and every fan that has ever listened to him call a baseball game. If your kids are going to look up to any Phillie, have them look up to Kalas, who's pride for the game of baseball and the Phillies was second to none.

    Harry was loved by everyone he came in contact with. Be it the millions of fans who listened to him call baseball games throughout the summer, his colleagues, or the players who's names he mentioned throughout the summer, Kalas one of the most respected men to ever be associated with the Phillies.

    A proud, honorable man, the way that Harry went about the game was more of a lesson—how to respect the game, and most importantly, to never take it for granted.

3. Mike Schmidt

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    After he retired in 1989, former Phillies' third baseman Mike Schmidt crafted a few interesting quotes on a variety of subjects, not all of which are worth a mention to your young children. However, it is impossible to talk about the history of the Phillies without talking about the man who is, without a doubt, the greatest hitter to ever step to the plate for the franchise.

    Schmidt spent his entire 18-season career with the Phillies—the ultimate showcase of loyalty to a single team. A three-time MVP Award winner, Schmidt hit 548 home runs, leading the league in that category eight different times in his career. He is a 12-time All-Star, won 10 Gold Gloves, and six Silver Sluggers.

    Where would the Phillies be without Schimdt in the middle of their order in 1980, en route to the Wold Series?

    Nowadays, Schmidt is still a member of the Phillies' organization. If you're interested in hearing what the Hall of Fame third baseman has to say (about anything and everything,) you should head down to Clearwater, Florida this spring. Schmidt is a special assistant for the Phillies during Spring Training.

    During the off-season, you can find him hosting or playing in a number of charity events, especially if they involve fishing or golf.

2. Chase Utley

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    It's been said on more than one occasion that Chase Utley plays the game "the right way," especially when you live in the city of Philadelphia, where players who give it their all on the field are immortalized as folk heroes off of it. Winning a World Series title only secures your legend.

    One of the best all-around second basemen in the game, respect for Utley runs much deeper than just from the fans. His manager, Charlie Manuel, has said numerous times that Utley plays the game the right way, and legendary broadcaster Harry Kalas once called him, quite simply, "The Man."

    That's because Utley only knows how to play the game one way: At 100%. Offensively, he isn't going to be happy with a quality out, because there was a quality hit to be had. In the field, he'll kick himself after making a mistake, and then put the team on his back to make up for it.

    Off of the field, Utley has a much gentler side. Both he and his wife are well noted animal enthusiasts, and the couple donate to and support the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    Just be careful when he has a microphone in his hand.

1. Roy Halladay

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    What can I say about Roy Halladay's tremendous work ethic that you have heard hundreds of times over?

    First and foremost, tell your children that although Halladay has a ton of natural talent, it was hard worked that built him into the game's best pitcher. Once upon a time, Halladay had failed to stick at the MLB level with the Toronto Blue Jays, but with hard work and a little help from minor league pitching coach Mel Queen, "Doc" was born.

    Now, Halladay uses that surgical precision to carve his way through opposing lineups, excelling in everything that makes a pitcher great. He has phenomenal control, changes speeds well, and repeats his mechanics without flaw.

    Like so many others on this list, Halladay is also a huge presence in the community. Throughout his entire career, he and his family have been well recognized for their work with underprivileged children. Recently, the Halladay Family Foundation hosted a food drive to support the Philadelphia-area community.