Terry Francona couldn’t lead the Philadelphia Phillies into the Major League Baseball promise land as manager by going 285-363 from 1997 to 2000. Francona needed to build chemistry in the clubhouse but it wasn’t in existence. Heh, he led the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
The Phillies hired Larry Bowa as manager with the expectation he could pump life into a team that hadn’t posted a winning record since winning the National League pennant in 1993 (97-65). Well, Bowa nearly led the Phillies to the NL East crown, falling two games short in second place at 86-76.
A sizzling start provided hope as the Phillies began the season 14-6, 25-16, and 30-17. By June 1, the Phillies were 35-18 before cooling off into the All-Star break with a 50-37 record. In Aug., the Phillies climbed back to first place in the division with a 7-1 stretch to be 15 games above .500. After Sept. 1, the Phillies would no longer hold the top spot as they dropped 16 of their last 22 games.
Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 canceled baseball for nearly two weeks. When games resumed, the Phillies won five of seven and stood a half game behind Atlanta for the division lead. The Phillies still got within one game of Atlanta on Oct. 2 after Randy Wolf defeated Atlanta’s Greg Maddux (2014 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee), 3-1. However, the Phillies were unable to grab the division top spot.
Catcher Mike Lieberthal, who set Phillies single-season catching records for fielding percentage and home runs in 1998, appeared in 34 games out of 162 due to injuries. Lieberthal was 28-for-121 with 21 runs, eight doubles, two sayonaras, and 11 runs batted in.
Fortunately, rookie shortstop Jimmy (J-Roll) Rollins displayed a sensational season (earned the third most votes for NL Rookie of the Year). Rollins batted .274 (180-for-656) in 158 games with 96 runs, 29 doubles, a league-most 12 triples, 14 round-trippers, 54 RBIs, and an NL-leading 46 steals. He became the first Phillie to lead the league in steals since 1995 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Richie Ashburn stole 32 bases in 1948.
Robert Person proved he could be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher by going 15-7 in 33 starts with one shutout, three complete games, 179 hits, 80 walks, 183 strikeouts, and a 4.19 Earned Run Average in 208 innings. Omar Daal bounced back from a 2-9 12-star stint in 2001 by posting a 13-7 mark in 32 starts (186 innings) with 199 hits, 56 free passes, a 4.46 ERA, and 107 strikeouts. Wolf (10-11, 28 games, 25 starts, 3.70 ERA) entertained the Wolfpack (his fan base) with two shutouts, four complete games, and 152 strikeouts (against 51 walks) in 163 innings; he one-hit visiting Cincinnati in an 8-0 victory on Sept. 26.
Pat Burrell easily made the transition to left field from first base. The 2015 Phillies Wall of Fame inductee hit .258 (139-for-539) in 155 games with 70 runs, 29 doubles, two triples, 27 jacks, and 89 RBIe. Burrell led all NL outfielders with 18 assists.
Right-fielder Bobby Abreu didn’t hit above .300 after eclipsing that mark the previous three seasons. However, Abreu still had the lumber as he batted .289 (170-for-588) in all 162 games with 118 runs, 48 doubles, four triples, 31 homers, 106 walks, 110 RBIs, and 36 steals. The 83 extra-base hits were the fifth most in a single-season by a Phillie at that point in franchise history.
Third baseman Scott Rolen brought out his weapons by hitting .289 (160-for-554) with 96 runs, 39 doubles, a triple, 25 four-baggers, 16 steals, and 107 RBIs. First baseman Travis Lee (.258) added 75 runs, 34 doubles, two three-baggers, 20 goodbye balls, and 90 RBIs.
You can’t forget center-fielder Doug Glanville still had some fight as he hit .262 (166-for-634) with 74 runs, 24 doubles, three triples, 14 sayonaras, 55 RBIs, and 28 steals. Second baseman Marlon Anderson (.293), eventually an analyst for Phillies pre-game and post-game shows on Comcast SportsNet, tallied 69 runs, 30 doubles, two triples, 11 fence-clearers, and 61 RBIs. Johnny Estrada played 89 games behind the plate with 68 hits in 298 at-bats (26 runs, 23 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs).
Jose Mesa signed as a free agent and became a dominant closer. Mesa (3-3) registered 42 saves in 71 games with 65 hits, 20 walks, 59 strikeouts, and a 2.34 ERA in 69 innings. He would eventually hold the Phillies’ record for most saves with 113 (2001-2003, 2007) until Jonathan Papelbon earned his 114th save in Philadelphia during the 2015 season.
Ricky Bottalico came back to Philadelphia for another stint and showed he still had some reliable stuff. Bottalico was 3-4 in 66 games (67 innings) with three saves, 58 hits, 25 passes, 57 punch-outs, and a 3.90 ERA.
Rheal Cormier and Jose Santiago also exhausted their arms throughout the season. Cormier (5-6, 4.21 ERA) trotted to the mound for 60 games with one save, 49 hits, 17 walks, and 37 strikeouts. Santiago (2-4, 3.61 ERA) toted the rubber in 53 games (62 innings) with 66 hits, 13 walks, and 28 strikeouts.
We can’t omit starters Bruce Chen (4-5, 16 starts, 86 innings, 79 strikeouts, 5.00 ERA), Dave Coggin (6-7, 17 starts, 95 innings, 4.17 ERA), Brandon Duckworth (3-2, 11 starts, 69 innings, 40 strikeouts, 3.52 ERA), Nelson Figueroa (4-5, 19 games, 13 starts, 89 innings, 61 strikeouts, 3.94 ERA), and Amaury Telemaco (5-5, 24 games, 14 starts, one complete game, 89 innings, 5.54 ERA). Other bullpen arms included Wayne Gomes (4-3, one save, 42 games, 48 innings, 4.31 ERA), Cliff Politte (2-3, 23 games, 26 innings, 23 strikeouts, 2.41 ERA), Turk Wendell (0-2, 21 games, 16 innings, 15 strikeouts, 7.47 ERA), Ed Vosberg (0-0, 18 games, 13 innings, 2.84 ERA), Eddie Oropesa (1-0, 30 games, 19 innings, 4.74 ERA), and Vicente Padilla (3-1, 23 games, 34 innings, 4.24 ERA).
Phillies pitchers posted a 4.15 ERA in 1,444 innings with three shutouts, 47 saves, eight complete games, 1,417 hits, 527 bases on balls, and 1,086 strikeouts. During offensive innings, the Phillies batted .260 (1,431-for-5,497) with 746 runs, 295 doubles, 29 triples, 164 home runs, 708 RBIs, and a league-high 153 stolen bases.
The defense committed 96 errors during the season and played 93 games without a misue.
Glanville at one point carried a 15-game hitting streak. Rollins and Abreu each produced two-triple games. Backup catcher Todd Pratt (Aug. 4 at San Francisco) and Anderson (Oct. 6 at Cincinnati) both hit three doubles in one game.
Rollins was the Phillies’ lone representative in the 2001 All-Star Game. Rolen won his third Gold Glove at third base for the Phillies. Even with the managerial change and improved lineup, Veterans Stadium admitted fewer than two million spectators (1,782,054). Outfielder Marlon Byrd and Duckworth both repeated as Paul Owens Award winners (top minor leaguers in Philadelphia’s farm system).
You could’ve listened to games on WOGL-FM. Flagship television stations Comcast SportsNet and WPSG-UPN also broadcasted games. On the call were Harry Kalas, Andy Musser, Chris Wheeler, Larry Andersen, and Scott Graham.
*Information about the 2001 Phillies can be found in “The Phillies Encyclopedia (Third Edition)” by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.