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100 Greatest Phillies

100 Greatest Phillies: 20 – Johnny Callison

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, March 07, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 19

Johnny Callison
Outfielder
1960-1969

Career w/Phillies: .271 AVG / 185 HR / 666 RBI / 60 SB

In 1959, Gene Freese hit .269 with 23 home runs and 70 runs batted in — the best season of his career. Yet the Phillies traded the known commodity to the White Sox for a young Oklahoman named Johnny Callison. For 10 seasons, Callison would patrol right field for the Phightin’ Phils, hitting home runs, stealing bags, roping triples and throwing out runners throughout. The three-time All-Star quickly became one of the game’s better outfielders, and in 1964 he had his best season. What a season. First, he hit .274 with 31 homers and 104 RBI. Those totals were third and fifth, respectively, in the National League. He also was an integral part of the Phils run toward the NL pennant (we all know what happened, of course). But his greatest moment? Bashing a three-run, game-winning home run to win the All-Star Game at Shea Stadium. Callison would enjoy a few more strong years before his play dropped off (most hitters’ play dropped off in the late 1960s), but he would retire and settle back near Philadelphia. Callison died in 2006. Freese? He flamed out quickly after the trade. Advantage? Clearly Philly.

Comment: A hitter with power, speed and an eye, Callison was an authentic ballplayer. And a fan favorite. It was hard to weigh Callison, especially in comparison to No. 19, but this spot seemed right for him — a player who won’t be mistaken for a Hall of Famer, but one who had a spectacular career for the Phils.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 21 – Chris Short

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, March 06, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 20

Chris Short
Starting Pitcher
1959-1972

Career w/Phillies: 2253 IP / 132-127 / 3.37 ERA / 1585 K

Fourth all-time in franchise wins. Fourth all-time franchise shutouts. Third all-time franchise strikeouts. Chris “Style” Short was a Phillies pitching legend over his 14-year Phillie career. The left-hander competed with five of the greatest pitchers of all-time during his best years — Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and teammate Jim Bunning. And he held his own. In 1964 he went 17-9 with a 2.20 ERA despite being overused toward the end of the season. He won 18 games in 1965 and 20 in ’66. In the great pitching year of 1968 he went 19-13 with a 3.02 ERA. Great numbers, right? His 19 wins was fourth in the National League; his 3.02 ERA was not even close to the top 10. That aside, Short had seven consecutive fantastic seasons on the mound, and surrounded those years with steady work. Toward the end of his career Short maintained a respectable ERA, but couldn’t quite overpower hitters the way he could before. Throughout Phillies history, one can make the case that currently, Short is the franchise’s second-greatest lefty.

Comment: Short had a few unbelievable seasons and was considered a top arm in an era of truly legendary pitchers. Though he wasn’t near being a Hall of Fame pitcher, he absolutely gave the Phils some of the best pitching seasons in franchise history. And he was instrumental in the 1964 campaign, despite being used beyond belief toward the end. He just misses the top 20.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 22 – Pat Burrell

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, March 05, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 69

Pat Burrell
Outfielder
2000-2008

Career w/Phillies: .257 AVG / 251 HR / 827 RBI / 5 SB

With the first pick in the 1998 draft, the Phillies selected Pat Burrell, a big outfielder from the University of Miami. In return, the slugger gave the Phils and their fans nine crazy but ultimately rewarding seasons. He finished second on the franchise all-time home run list with 251, but no hit was larger than his final hit as a Phillie, a smoked double off the left-center field wall that turned into the winning run of the clinching game of the 2008 World Series. Before then, Burrell bashed the ball regularly, with eight straight seasons of 20 or more home runs. He also had troubles staying consistent, hitting for below a .260 average six times. Still, his best seasons were extremely good. In 2002 he hit .282 with 37 homers, and he parlayed a ridiculous second half in 2007 to finish with 30 homers. He also reached base a ton toward the end of his run, finishing in the NL top 10 for walks in his final four seasons in Philadelphia. He signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, the same team that fell victim to his biggest hit.

Comment: Burrell gave fans some great times during his nine-year career. He was what he was: A strong power hitter who found consistency sparingly. But when he was on, boy was he on. We’ll miss Burrell, and he definitely earns a top 25 spot in the Greatest Phillies countdown, with a little debate on whether he should be top 20.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 23 – Tug McGraw

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, March 04, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 25

Tug McGraw
Relief Pitcher
1975-1984

Career w/Phillies: 722 IP / 49-37 / 94 SV / 3.10 ERA / 491 K

On December 3, 1974, the New York Mets traded beleaguered but star reliever Tug McGraw to the Phillies. Instantly, the Phillies became a contender. Moreover, McGraw began his 30-year relationship with Philadelphia, a relationship that almost every Phillies fan holds dear. Tugger was an immediate impact upon arrival, recording a 2.98 ERA in more than 100 innings for the 1975 Phils, a team on the rise. He was even better in 1976, recording a 2.50 ERA for the newly postseasoned pinstripes. McGraw continued to perform well until 1979, when everything seemed to fall apart for a team destined for a title. But Tugger rebounded in a big way in 1980, posting a 1.46 ERA in more than 90 innings, striking out 75 while walking 23. His performance helped take the Phils to the World Series, and of course, the moment all Philadelphians will cherish: His strikeout of Willie Wilson and subsequent magic leap into the air, arms raised as high as the moon above. McGraw had a couple years in the tank, but his innings dwindled considerably. He retired in 1984 and joined WPVI as a reporter, showing off his trademark humor and Irish spirit. Sadly, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2003, and though he was able to recreate his famous pitch before the Vet was demolished, he died in early 2004. Just before game three of the 2008 World Series, his son, Tim McGraw, spread Tug’s ashes onto the mound at Citizens Bank Park. The ol’ Irish luck rubbed off: The Phillies won the World Series.

Comment: An adopted son. A true legend. When Tug was at his best the Phils were, too. He is the gold standard for relievers in Philadelphia, and to many, a gold standard for human beings.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 24 – Chase Utley

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, March 03, 2009 04:00 PM Comments: 51

Chase Utley
Second Baseman
2003-Present

Career w/Phillies: .298 AVG / 130 HR / 492 RBI / 60 SB

In the annals of Phillies history, few infielders have possessed the skill of Chase Utley. And according to this list, he’s already the greatest second baseman in franchise history. Utley was drafted by the Phillies in 2000, and made his major league debut in 2003. In his first start — at Veterans Stadium — he knocked a grand slam against the Rockies. The rest has been great history. The 2003 and ’04 seasons saw Utley shuffling his role with infielder Placido Polanco, but he finally got the regular starting job in 2005. He hit .291, drove in 105 and scored a 13th-place MVP vote. 2006 was better: .309, 32 HR, 102 RBI. 2007 was going even better, but a hand injury took a month out of his campaign. Still, .332, 22 HR and 103 RBI ain’t shabby. In 2008, Utley played much of the season on a broken hip, but still finished .292, 33 HR, 104 RBI. He helped the Phillies win the ’08 World Series, mainly with his improved glove. The trademark moment of his career: His pump and throw home to record the final out of the seventh inning of game five. From there, the Phils took it and won it. So far, so amazing for No. 26.

Comment: When you watch Chase Utley, you’re watching a special player. Everything he does is well above average, and he is unquestionably the top second baseman in baseball, and has been for four consecutive seasons. He creeps just above Ryan Howard because of the additional year and well-rounded game, but so far, Utley and Howard are in good shape together in this list. Utley should move up in this list very soon.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 25 – Ryan Howard

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, March 02, 2009 06:00 PM Comments: 41

Ryan Howard
First Baseman
2004-Present

Career w/Phillies: .279 AVG / 177 HR / 499 RBI / 2 SB

Ryan Howard, in five years, is arguably the Phillies greatest offensive weapon ever. Blocked by Jim Thome on the system depth chart, Howard finally found regular time because of a Thome injury in 2005. The big man made the most of his time, swatting 22 home runs in 88 games. For that half-year output, Howard won the National League Rookie of the Year award. His encore? Hitting .313 with 58 home runs and 149 runs batted in, easily one of the most prolific seasons in Phillies history. He won the Most Valuable Player award for his efforts, cementing his place as one of the game’s most feared players. Since, Howard has remained a steady power hitter, crushing more than 40 homers in 2007 and ’08. Though his averages have dropped since that 2006 season, there’s no doubt Howard is far and away the games top home run hitter. His mammoth Septembers have helped the Phillies reach postseason play, and in 2008, he came alive late in the World Series to help energize the Phillies to their second world championship.

Comment: It’s amazing Howard has played merely five seasons. The numbers he has attained are mind-blogging – he’s averaging 35 home runs and almost 100 RBI per season. When he strides to the plate, everything stops. He’s that special. In a few years Howard could see his way into the top 10 of this list – for now, a ranking at the top of the 25 makes sense.

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Guess the Top 10 Greatest Phillies

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, March 02, 2009 01:28 PM Comments: 27

We’re getting close to the end of our 100 Greatest Phillies countdown.  The Final 10 will begin to be revealed on St. Patrick’s Day and you have a chance to guess the top 10.  If you submit an entry that has all 10 in the correct order you will win an awesome Phillies prize. Make sure you check who’s on the list already.

Responses are due at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 26 – Garry Maddox

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sun, March 01, 2009 05:00 PM Comments: 13

Garry Maddox
Outfielder
1975-1986

Career w/Phillies: .283 AVG / 85 HR / 566 RBI / 189 SB

Eight consecutive Gold Glove awards. Garry Maddox is one of the greatest defensive outfielders in baseball history. He won every one of those Gold Gloves with the Phillies, part of an illustrious 12-year career as the rock in center field. Lovingly called “The Secretary of Defense,” Maddox tracked down balls like a gazelle and thew out runners with a cannon arm, making it look easy every time. Acquired in a trade in 1975 from San Francisco, he made an immediate offensive impact, hitting .330 in 1976. He consistently delivered .280 averages or better throughout much of his Phillie career, hitting for little power (a career-high 14 home runs in 1977) and causing some havoc on the basepaths (a career-high 33 stolen bases in 1978). His many years patrolling center field took a toll, since by 1981 Maddox couldn’t quite hang onto an everyday role. He became an integral platoon bat with still tremendous defensive ability as his career wound down. Maddox retired in 1986 and became an announcer for Phillies baseball shortly after. He has since moved onto business, and is trying to help the Mashantucket Pequot tribe land a casino in Philadelphia.

Comment: An absolutely thrilling player with incredible defensive ability, Maddox was a cornerstone of the Phillies best years. Though he wasn’t a power hitter, he displayed unbelievable consistency at the plate for a few years. He hits No. 26 because his later years just didn’t stack up — if he remained viable in his 30s, he could’ve easily been a top 20 entry.

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100 Greatest Phillies: 27 – Curt Simmons

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, February 28, 2009 05:30 PM Comments: 14

Curt Simmons
Starting Pitcher
1947-1960

Career w/Phillies: 1939.2 IP / 115-110 / 3.66 ERA / 1052 K

Signed by the Phillies after striking out a bunch of them in a high school vs. Phillies exhibition, Curt Simmons was destined for great things. Making his professional debut at age 18, the Egypt, Pa., native slowly became one of the Phillies greatest pitchers. Seventh on the franchise list in strikeouts and fifth in wins, Simmons spent parts of 14 seasons in Philadelphia. He came into his own in 1950 as a Whiz Kid, a 21-year-old who recorded a 17-8 record with a 3.40 ERA. He missed the World Series, serving in Korea, but returned for the 1952 season when he really dominated. That year he went 14-8 with a 2.82 ERA, earning his first All-Star berth. He returned to the game in 1953, recording a 16-13 ERA with a 3.21 ERA. He would have a few more fine seasons with the Phils, but fell victim to poor win-loss records because of some bad teams. Thinking he was finished, the Phillies released Simmons in 1960, but he returned to prominence for a few seasons with the Cardinals. He retired at age 39 in 1968, and he’ll be 80 in May.

Comment: A Lehigh County boy made good in the big city, Simmons is clearly one of the franchise’s greatest pitchers. In fact, by this count, he’s the eighth-greatest pitcher in franchise history. If only he played on some better teams, he could’ve won maybe 150 games as a Phillie. Alas …

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100 Greatest Phillies: 28 – Scott Rolen

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, February 27, 2009 06:30 PM Comments: 39

Scott Rolen
Third Baseman
1996-2002

Career w/Phillies: .281 AVG / 150 HR / 559 RBI / 71 SB

In 1980 while en route to a league championship, the Phillies drafted Juan Samuel. In 1993 while en route to a league championship, they drafted Scott Rolen. The Indiana third baseman made his splashy Phillies debut in 1996, then traditionally became a rookie in ’97, winning the NL Rookie of the Year award after a fine season (.283 AVG, 21 HR, 92 RBI). Quickly, Rolen’s bat showed he was one of the game’s premier infielders. He slugged 31 home runs and drove in 110 in 1998, at age 23. Moreover, he was an exceptional fielder, winning four Gold Gloves as a member of the Phillies. Many compared him to Mike Schmidt, and while those comparisons seemed dead on early, injuries derailed Rolen’s ascension to more of a crawl. He still put up great numbers (2001: .289, 25 HR, 107 RBI), hitting 20 home runs almost every season he played in Philly. Of course, his tenure in our city came to an end, as Rolen was traded to the Cardinals … “Baseball Heaven,” he called it. He descended from Heaven last year, being traded to Toronto.

Comment: Of all his moments in pinstripes, maybe Rolen’s most memorable was his two-home run night to lead the Phillies in late 2001, the first night baseball resumed after the attacks of Sept. 11. He’ll always be remembered for that. Injuries stopped him from being legendary, and a tough relationship with the team hurt worse, but no one can deny Rolen’s place in Phillies history.

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