The Philadelphia Phillies are officially feting the 2008 World Series championship team this weekend.
On the 10th anniversary of the historic season which concluded with that team winning the second title in franchise history, it is wholly understandable and appropriate.
However, there is another beloved Phillies team celebrating a big anniversary this year.
In fact, as someone who has been following the team closely since Veteran’s Stadium opened in 1971, I’ve always maintained that the other anniversary team provided the most fun single Phillies season that I ever experienced.
Sure, the 1980 and 2008 Phillies teams both won the World Series. I attended Game Two of the 1980 Fall Classic as an 18-year-old. I was at the parade celebrations for both championship teams.
I was inside JFK Stadium in October of 1980 when Tug McGraw told New York to “take this world championship and stick it!” I was videotaping at 15th & JFK and captured a fan making a memorable climb up a light pole on Halloween in 2008.
But for all the drama, excitement, and ultimate thrill that those two clubs provided, there was never a more fun Phillies season from start to (almost) finish for me than the one provided by the 1993 team.
It almost seems lost in all the excitement over the 10th anniversary of the 2008 club, but this is now the silver anniversary for the 1993 National League champion Philadelphia Phillies team.
Yes, it has been 25 years now since that mullet-wearing, scruffy-bearded, ‘Macho Row’-led crew stormed through baseball. In a March 2012 piece, Mike Bertha at Philadelphia Magazine summed up that unforgettable season perfectly:
“It began with a bench-clearing brawl at spring training. Then, over the course of 103 total wins, 49 extra innings, 12 playoff games and some late nights (or, more accurately, early mornings), the 1993 Phillies seduced the city. Fans spent the summer flocking to the Vet to watch their appropriately nicknamed “Animal House,” both captivated and agog as the Phillies stampeded through the National League and then marched through Atlanta to earn a date with the defending-champion Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series.”
The Darren Daulton Foundation operates today in the name of, and as a memorial to, the namesake captain of that Phillies team. The foundation provides financial assistance to those who suffer from brain cancer and brain tumors. On June 8, they held a reunion celebration for the 1993 team.
Our own Kevin McCormick here at Phillies Nation reported on the event and those in attendance back in June:
“…the pennant-winning team showed up for the event, including: Tommy Greene, Jim Eisenreich, Larry Bowa, Milt Thompson, Ben Rivera, Mickey Morandini, David West, Tony Longmire, Curt Schilling, and even Danny Jackson who arrived after throwing out the first pitch at the Phillies-Brewers game across the street. Fans in attendance got to meet the players, take pictures, get autographs, and chat with the guys throughout the night.”
Morandini, who shared second base duties with Mariano Duncan, eventually became a minor league manager and then a big league coach with the Phillies. He remains on the payroll as a popular club ambassador.
Five of the men who were in uniform and playing important roles that summer are no longer with us, including Daulton. The catcher and leader of that ball club died a year ago this coming Monday following a four-year battle with brain cancer.
Also now gone off to play on that “Field of Dreams” in the sky is their raspy-voiced manager Jim Fregosi, along with three members of his coaching staff: John Vukovich, Johnny Podres, and Mel Roberts.
Phillies fans still get plenty of first baseman John Kruk (TV) and reliever Larry Andersen (radio) as members of the current Phillies regular broadcasting crew. Andersen and Daulton hold the distinction of being the only players to appear with the Phillies during both the 1983 and 1993 pennant-winning seasons.
Greene was a member of the 1993 starting rotation, joining Schilling, Jackson, Rivera, and Terry Mulholland. He and shortstop Kevin Stocker can be found chipping in work as a broadcaster and analyst respectively at times.
Some of the more popular members of that hard-charging ball club have become embroiled in controversy over the years. Beginning with nine seasons in Phillies pinstripes, Schilling built a strong Hall of Fame résumé as he continued his career helping the Diamondbacks and Red Sox to World Series victories.
The MVP of the 1993 NLCS victory over Atlanta, Schilling’s shutout in Game Five of the World Series that year is one of the greatest post-season pitching performances in Phillies history. Some now find him controversial as an outspoken conservative political and social commentator.
Mitch Williams was a respected analyst with MLB Network before he was fired in 2014 after an altercation at a youth tournament. Williams filed a lawsuit and was ultimately awarded a $1.5 million judgement in June of last year.
Lenny Dykstra finished as runner-up to Barry Bonds in voting for the 1993 National League Most Valuable Player. ‘The Dude’ or ‘Nails’ as he was alternately known blasted dramatic home runs in both the NLCS and World Series that year.
Over the ensuing decades, the now 55-year-old Dykstra has fallen the farthest and hardest. In May of this year came his latest incident, arrested in New Jersey after allegedly pointing a weapon at an Uber driver and threatening to blow the driver’s head off. Cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy were found on him by responding police.
Some members of that 1993 team are already immortalized by the organization. Bowa, previously honored in 1991 for his role as a player, would be joined by Vukovich (2007), Daulton (2010), Kruk (2011), and Schilling (2013) on the Phillies Wall of Fame.
It was a completely unexpected, fun summer filled with wild, walk-off wins, some in the wee hours of the morning. Numerous seemingly unlikely heroes stepping up to deliver pivotal hits or make clutch plays at crucial moments. A wild band of misfit characters playing the parts and winning the hearts of Phillies fans for decades to come.
They fell just two games short of the ultimate prize. But even that was nothing to hang their heads about. The Toronto Blue Jays finally ended their magic with Joe Carter‘s walk-off home run in Game Six.
That Toronto club, already defending World Series champions, put a trio of Hall of Famers on the field in Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor, and Roberto Alomar, as well as a handful more all-stars. The 1993 Phillies were within a big blown lead in Game Four and Carter’s heroics of pulling off their most stunning victory of all.
As you justly honor and remember the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies this weekend on the occasion of their 10th anniversary, take some time out to also recall that 1993 Phillies team. A silver anniversary is just as worthy of celebration, especially this one.
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