Sad news from the Phillies:
John Vukovich, the longest tenured coach in Phillies history, died early this morning at a Philadelphia Hospital. He was 59 years of age.
“Vuk” spent 31 of his 41 years in baseball as a member of the Phillies organization. A third baseman, he was originally selected by the Phillies in the January 1966 draft out of American River Junior College in Sacramento, Calif.
Mr. Vukovich played parts of seven seasons with the Phillies (1970-71, 76-77, 79-81). He returned to the organization as a major league coach in 1988 and wore the uniform for 17 consecutive years, through 2004. Following that season, Mr. Vukovich was named a special assistant to the general manager, working under Ed Wade and Pat Gillick.
Details on a funeral service will be announced later.
The Phillies will be wearing a black patch (“Vuk”) on their uniform jerseys starting next week and through the 2007 season.
In addition to the Phillies, his major league career included the Milwaukee Brewers (1973-74) and the Cincinnati Reds (1975). Mr. Vukovich was a member of two World Championship clubs, the Reds and 1980 Phillies.
On June 23, 1971, Mr. Vukovich was playing third base for the Phillies and caught the final out of Rick Wise’s no-hitter.
Prior to his major league debut in September 1970, Mr. Vukovich was a member of three league champions in the minor leagues (Spartanburg, 1967; Eugene, 1972; and Oklahoma City, 1970) and led his league in fielding by a third baseman four times. In 1970, he played for triple-A Eugene and reached professional highs with 22 home runs and 96 RBI in 138 games.
Following his major league playing career, Mr. Vukovich began a career as a coach with the Chicago Cubs in 1982. He served as a first base, third base and bench coach until leaving after the 1987 season.
Much like his time with the Cubs, his coaching role with the Phillies included first base, third base and bench coach, plus coordinating spring training and working with the team’s infielders. During his Phillies coaching career, he worked under six different managers. In 1994, he was a coach for the National League All-Star team.
Twice Mr. Vukovich served as an interim manager, a doubleheader with the Cubs on June 13, 1986, and the last nine games of the Phillies’ 1988 season.
In 2000, he served as a coach for the MLB All-Star team that traveled to Japan and in 2004 he was named the winner of the inaugural Dallas Green Special Achievement Award, presented by the Philadelphia chapter of the BBWAA, for his coaching tenure.
An avid outdoorsman, Mr. Vukovich was born on July 31, 1947 in Sacramento, and played against Larry Bowa in that city’s amateur baseball leagues. He was a 1965 graduate of Amador County High School and attended American River Junior College.
He is survived by his wife, the former Bonnie Loughran, whom he met at Veterans Stadium, two children, Nicole Stolarik and Vince, and triplet granddaughters, Anna, Lena and Stella Stolarik. He is also survived by two brothers, Rich and Bill, of California.