Phillies Nuggets with Tim Kelly

Joe Girardi’s baseball journey kept bringing him back to Philadelphia

It’s almost as if fate was trying to tell Joe Girardi that he was meant to don red pinstripes at some point.

“I’m well aware of the passion for the game of baseball here,” Girardi said Monday, as he was introduced as the 55th manager in franchise history. “And I’ve lived it as a player, and as a manager. And I am truly excited to be here. I’d like to thank [general manager] Matt [Klentak] for giving me this opportunity – this is a special place.”

Throughout his life in baseball, there have been little Phillies connections that have built up to this moment.

He grew up as a fan of the Chicago Cubs and cited the 1984 team as one of his favorites as a kid. That team was managed by Dallas Green – the manager of the 1980 World Champion Phillies – and included Larry Bowa – a member of the 1980 team – and Gary “Sarge” Matthews, who had helped the Phillies win the National League pennant the prior season.

In 1986, Girardi and his now-wife, Kim, were sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field for a Cubs-Phillies game. A home run ball was hit into the bleachers, and he says that Kim stepped on another fan’s hand to assure that she got the ball, admitting to Girardi that she wasn’t sure how many more chances she would get to catch a home run ball at a major league game.

Girardi’s first hit as a major leaguer came on Opening Day in 1989 off of Phillies RHP Floyd Youmans. John Kruk broke his nose in a game in 1991, and Girardi says that the Phillies Wall of Famer visited him in the hospital to make sure he was OK.

He managed the New York Yankees team that defeated them in six games in the 2009 World Series. Girardi said Monday that the passion that Phillies fans showed during that series still resonates with him.

So the Phillies felt like a natural fit for Girardi, who has 988 career wins as a major league manager.

“So I was thinking about, ‘what’s going to happen in my life…what’s next?’ And then I thought ‘man, I got all of these Philly ties.’ And I can’t tell you how excited I am to be here, because this is part of who I am.”

Joe Girardi was introduced as the Phillies manager Monday. (Tim Kelly/Phillies Nation)

With his understanding of the history of the organization, Girardi knows he’s walking into a pressure-cooker, one where fans are hungry for October baseball, something they haven’t seen since 2011. And he welcomes that pressure.

“I had a chance to manage against the team in the 2000s that was great. So you think about it; the 1990s, they were great; the 2000s they were great – and this team has a history of being successful. And I’m selfish, I want to win.”

Girardi warned the collective media that he isn’t the storyteller that some managers are. But he was full of great Phillies-related stories Monday, including one last one about how former Phillies manager Pete Mackanin impacted his baseball career.

“Pete Mackanin was my first manager in the minor leagues. And Pete was the guy that gave me the call [to tell me] that I was going to the big leagues when he was the field coordinator. And I asked him ‘Are you kidding?’ and he said, “Yeah, you’re going to the big leagues.”

“He sent me a text congratulating me [when I was hired as manager], and if any of you are guilty of taking anything, I want you to be able to tell him. He said ‘Check for the change in the drawer’ and he would appreciate if I’d send it back.”


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ken Bland

    October 28, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Matt Klentak, with a straight face, introduced Joe Girardi today with superlatives and a conclusive bottom line that he clearly was the top candidate among the 3 interviewees. There’s no chopped in Showalter, nor liver in Baker, as they’d say. He easily avoided the question I’d have liked addressed in if Joe is so good (which I think he is, but that’s besides the point) why did he not get even a glance after the Yanks didn’t renew him before Kapler was hired 2 years back.

    His easy avoidance was offered with defending the Kapler hiring for the umpteenth time by reasoning that the Phils were ready to win, and Kapler fit the right mold at that time. Oh, please. That’s a guess being as Kapler had not managed at the MLB level. Chancey stuff for sure. And I don’t know how truly terrific Girardi is, but I don’t think its so unfair to look at it like this. If you heard Frank Robinson was considered an old 30 by Cincy management a way back when, even if you had 3 pretty good OF prospects, wouldn’t you owe it to your pursuit of excellence to at least pursue a deal? Wasn’t it worth finding out more on why the Yanks didn’t renew Girardi after 2017, and got a feel for if he was anti analytics and any other charges levied against him held water?

    Truth is, grudges are rarely beneficial, yet today, I found myself swamped in 2 year old memories of why did the Phils not talk to this guy then since Kapler was not signed until approximately 2 weeks after Cashman said sayonara. I’m sorry, there is no good reason, and I have o believe that had the Phils actually made some inquiries, the market is so competitive that the media would have reported it so we can conclude the Phils did zilch. A winner is a winner, no matter where you are in your cycle, still building, or ready to play consecutive post seasons. Shame on me, but I thought Kapler was a good hire back then. Oy vey is right. But I also said out loud they had to at least pursue Girardi to see if there was any reason the Yanks dropped him that should have prevented pursuit of him. Maybe the 2 years “off” did him some good. Maybe I’m mesmerized by his style and or record. At least he’s finally here. And I expect to be repeating that last sentence for quite a while. For now, today was a long time coming.

    If I had one regret about the presser, it was that Dallas Green’s name never came up in Joe’s recollections of long time experiences against the Phils. Secondary stuff, perhaps because they didn’t have any passes in the night. Both had at least near Cub tenures, too. But I’m glad I’ll have seen both wear Phillie red before my time’s up.

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