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- Dallas Green reflects on baseball and family in new memoir - WHYY
- Dallas Green reflects on baseball and family in new memoir
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Hughie was on a scouting trip to Kansas City, so that left Pope and I to hash out the situation. The conversation continued during that night's game against the Reds. As the booze flowed and we watched the Phillies stumble to the end of a homestand in which we lost eight of nine games, the matter took on a new urgency. We tossed around names of guys we thought might help get us back on track.
Bobby Wine, a skilled game strategist, was at the top of the list. After the game, we remained in Pope's office. Other colleagues filed in and out of the room as we sought a resolution to our dilemma.
There was precedent for a Phillies executive coming down to manage the team on an interim basis. Pope, in his first year as general manager, did it for the second half of the season. He had no intention of keeping the job beyond that point but viewed field managing as a good way to evaluate his talent up close. I was content with my front office job. It was generally accepted that I was in line to take over as general manager when Pope decided to retire.
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I hemmed and hawed and indicated that I had no interest in taking over for Danny. Nor did I believe I was qualified. I had managed two seasons in the low minor leagues in the late s, but that was the extent of my experience. Pope ignored my protests. At about in the morning Central time, he phoned Hughie's hotel room in Kansas City to get his input on the idea. The conversation lasted all of 30 seconds. After Pope hung up the phone, he repeated what Hughie just told him: "He says you can absolutely manage this team.
You worked with a lot of our players in the minors. You know how to handle them. And the rest of the guys know you well enough to know they'll have no choice but to play hard for you. Now Pope was certain I was the right man for the job.
When the meeting broke up at about am, I told Pope I'd go home, talk it over with my wife, Sylvia, and get back to him in a few hours. A long night got a little longer.
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Sylvia, too, was convinced I should manage the team. Hesitant still, I found myself enumerating the reasons why taking the job on an interim basis might not be such a bad idea. Sylvia, never one to hold back an opinion, agreed that arrangement made sense. With her blessing, I picked up the phone a few minutes before am.
I was scheduled to fly to Oklahoma City the following day to visit our Triple-A club. Pope told me to go ahead and make the trip. That would give him time to talk to Ruly and make the switch official. The next day I boarded a plane from Philadelphia to Oklahoma City. I'm not sure I ever left the airport in Oklahoma City before catching a flight to Atlanta, where the Phillies were opening a three-game weekend series against the Braves.
And that's where the next phase of my baseball career began. After a decade in the Phillies front office, I was returning to a major league dugout for the first time since my playing career ended in From a young age, I wanted to be the best. In school, I wanted to earn all As. On the field or court, I wanted to be the star player. In my neighborhood, I wanted to cut the grass better than the kid down the street.
If I accepted a job or task, I committed myself to doing it with pride, even if at first I was reluctant to do it at all. Having just finished a year professional playing career, I didn't envision packing my bags again and heading for South Dakota. I thought I was ready to go into the front office right away.
Dallas Green reflects on baseball and family in new memoir - WHYY
But Pope insisted, so I went to Huron and tried to be the best goddamn manager in the Pioneer League. In , I found myself in a similar situation. I didn't seek to become the Phillies manager, but once Pope talked me into it, I resolved to put every ounce of my being into seeing that the team played up to its ability. The problem with Danny Ozark was that he let his players do whatever they wanted. That laissez-faire style of managing had worked, to a point.
He took a young team and led it to three straight division titles, a pretty noteworthy accomplishment, after all.
But it rankled us how the and Phillies had lost focus and discipline. Pope believed I could restore those qualities to the team. Danny wanted to be friends with his players. I didn't care if they liked me or not. My opening speech to the team in Atlanta made that clear. I'm not here to do anything other than what you say you want to do, which is to win a championship. I've been in Philadelphia for much of my baseball career, and I want nothing more than for the Phillies to be successful. I want you to be successful. But I'm not going to sit back and wait for you to wake up.
I'm going to push you, and I'm going to needle you, and I'm going to bang you when I have to. We're going to pay close attention this month to see who wants to continue playing in Philadelphia next year. That was a cleaned-up version of my opening salvo. My straight talk took some players aback. In their eyes, I compared unfavorably to Danny. Bowa felt the team had lost a buddy, one who averaged 97 wins from to , and gained a bully, one with no experience managing in the majors.
Whereas Danny never criticized his players in the press, I had no intention of holding back in that regard. I refused to lie to reporters. If a player made a mistake, I didn't believe it was my obligation to protect him. At the same time, if a player did something well, I was the first to pat him on the back. I remained standing almost the entire game, shouting words of encouragement whenever they were necessary.
I hoped the players would feed off my energy. In my first weeks on the job, I sent a lot of messages through the newspapers, more out of necessity than design. Like Danny, who didn't have a real knack for words, a lot of players on the '79 team avoided journalists at all costs.
Dallas Green reflects on baseball and family in new memoir
They were notorious for running into the shower or the trainer's room when the sportswriters came looking for quotes. When the writers couldn't track down a certain player, they came looking for me. I told the team, "If you don't want to hear me run my mouth in the press, stand up like men and do some talking yourselves. Mike Schmidt, who played his entire year career with the Phillies, never fully warmed up to Philadelphia writers or fans. In his final season in the big leagues in , he expressed his feelings toward these groups with the type of quote he had withheld much of his career: "It just seems like if you're a writer there, or a fan there, you have to look for the negative.
Maybe it's in the air or how they're raised. Maybe they have too many hoagies or too much cream cheese or too much W. Of course, Schmitty made that statement to the Los Angeles Times, and not one of the Philadelphia papers. I had a different take. The writers covering the team in the late s and early s were tough and well-respected pros. They knew the game of baseball. And I saw no reason to hide from them. No doubt the final month of the season felt like shock treatment to Bowa, Schmidt, and the rest of Danny's advocates. I immediately enacted some unpopular rules.
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Card playing was restricted and kids were banished from the clubhouse. There's no question about it, throughout my career. It got me in a lot of trouble [and] it got me fired sometimes. I always believed that when I got a job, I wanted to sink my teeth into it and that's why was so important.
I did that, I did it with my heart and soul, the great passion for the game of baseball, and for the Phillies. It was kind of our last hurrah for that team. Green on Ryne Sandberg's two-home run game against the Cardinals on June 23, [footage of which is featured in the episode] :. It was his defining moment, no question, and the Cubs' defining moment.
We came back against a team and against a guy [Bruce Sutter] that was very, very difficult to beat…The last home run, everybody thought we were beat…When Sandberg hit that, we all went nuts and, from that time on, we knew we had a good baseball team. I'm still not over it. I talk to Sarge [Gary Matthews] about it.
I talked to a lot of guys about it…Probably the most disappointing. I've had a lot of down times…but this baby really hurt. George Steinbrenner more than anybody else, I think, believe it or not. I called him "Manager George," and that got me fired. I always respected Mr. I really did. He was one of the owners, back in those days, he put his money where his mouth was. I was all on-board with that kind of stuff. That hurt me because it just was bad timing, and I had no business saying it.
I really never got a chance to visit with him much after that. It's the same old thing. I should've picked up the phone and called him. Green on the loss of his granddaughter, Christina-Taylor, in the shooting in Tucson :. I can tear up with the best of them still and we miss Christina-Taylor Green terribly in our family. The tragedy was for my son [John], for my daughter-in-law [Roxanna] and little Dallas, who was really best buddies with Christina.
They've worked very hard to get through it. We've worked hard as a family to get through it. John and Roxanna have done a tremendous job in supporting the community and trying to get Christina's charity fund on the right track.
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I had baseball, my son has baseball, Roxanna wrote a book as good as she could manage. I think all that helped get us through. We'll never get over it. None of us will. She was a heck of a gal. Green on his granddaughter's desire to be the first female Major League Baseball player :. She had those desires and she was a good athlete.