Career w/Phillies: .263 AVG / 13 HR / 421 RBI / 288 SB
Not many players epitomize Philadelphia quite like Larry Bowa. The long-time shortstop entered the city in 1970 and helped to open Veterans Stadium with its first hit. He continued his career through the franchise’s best seasons, helping to lead the team to its first world championship in 1980. Through it all, he gave his most to the team, getting on base, stealing bases, diving for balls, speaking out, raising hell. His best seasons came with the division titles, as he hit .305 in 1975 (a year before the first crown) and .294 in 1978. He also stole a ton of bases – more than 30 three times and more than 20 a handful more. In 1974 he actually stole more bases than the number of runners he drove in. Combine those leadoff man numbers with strong defense and leadership and you have a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. Of course, he was a coach who managed the Phillies between 2001 and ’04, but didn’t quite gel with his players.
Comment: Bowa was one of the hardest players to peg for this list. I thought he belonged in the top 50 because of his leadership, name value, leadoff skills and defensive ability. But to me, Bowa wasn’t one of the franchise’s truly legendary players. Compare him, if you will, to Jimmy Rollins. In a shorter period of time, Rollins has trumped Bowa in practically all of his most redeeming qualities, and is a much more productive offensive player. Ultimately, that is why Bowa comes in here and not a little higher, toward Rollins.