Tagged: Gary Matthews

I’m Back – Can the Same Be Said for the Phillies?

After a very long vacation from blogging, I’m back. I have just a quick list of excuses for my absence. For starters, I have experienced a complete life “do-over.” After some hair-raising experiences including the deaths of 3 friends/family, I changed jobs, relationships, bought a house and am going back to school to work on my Master’s degree. Change is good. Trust me on this one.

Change for the Phillies thus far this offseason, however, has been minimal. It was less change and more resurrecting history when the Phils signed Marlon Byrd, Bobby Abreu (minor league deal), Larry Bowa (bench coach) and Charlie Manual, rehired as an advisor. Not to mention dumping Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews in favor of Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer in the broadcasting booth. And don’t forget Mike Schmidt on air for Sunday games. It’s a reunion!

Did you realize there are now no less than 4 Phillies managers back with the 2014 team? The current manager, obviously, is Ryne Sandberg. Former managers on staff also include Manual, Bowa and Dallas Green (front office). That is incredible. If you want to be with a team for life, sign with the Phillies!

With all of these blasts from the past, the season will at the very least be interesting to watch. But my initial impressions so far in watching Spring Training games are not too encouraging. The offense is still in hiding, as it has been for about 3+ years now. Ok, I know it is only Spring Training, but the Braves have no problem putting up 8-9 runs a game right now so why can’t the Phils? Also, many pitchers, like Cole Hamels, are already or still hurt. But hey, the defense looks pretty good J

Of the few moves the Phillies did make this offseason, I actually like the return of Marlon Byrd. He did well with the Pirates last year, he has been open about his previous suspension and above all, he has something to prove. I love his attitude so far and he appears to have at least brought some smiles back to camp.

Beyond that, not much stands out. Ryan Howard has proclaimed his perfect health. That is nice, but we will have to wait to see if results follow. Howard will be under even more pressure this year now that he and the team are adamant that he is 100%. If he falters early, I shudder to think of the reaction from the press and the fans. They will tear the Big Piece into little pieces. I do not envy his position.

I have begun counting the days until the first real pitch of the season to see what this team really has to offer. Is the winning team back or just a rerun of last year? More thoughts on Spring Training to come…stay tuned.


Walk-Off In Extras Nails Series Win for Phillies

The Phillies annual Alumni Weekend came to an end today with a huge series win against the World Champion Cardinals.  The 11-inning, 8-7 walk-off win was the cherry on top of a great weekend at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Vance Worley took the mound again, despite needing elbow surgery for bone chips.  The injury appears to be taking a toll on the Vanimal who struggled again, going 5 1/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.

The Phillies offense started off strong with 3 runs in the 1st on a triple from Chase Utley.  In the 4th, Ryan Howard added a solo homer.  But each time the Phils scored, the Cardinals answered and they took a 4-4 tie into the 8th.

With 3 errors in the game, the Phillies still had some nice defensive plays, and others that fell short.  The play at the plate below where Matt Holiday is called safe was a real bummer:

More disappointment was to follow as Michael Schwimer turned a 4-4 game into a 7-4 deficit for the Phils in the 8th, allowing the 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

But just when it looked like the game was over, Erik Kratz got up to his new-old tricks again.  With 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, he smashed a home run to left to tie the game up again.

But Kratz was not done yet…  In the 11th, he started off the inning with a double.  Sadly, the double was erased when Jimmy Rollins, who had the day off prior pinch hitting in the 8th, hit into a fielder’s choice.  J-Roll later redeemed himself by stealing 3rd, which turned out to be the key to winning the game.  Juan Pierre hustled down the 1st base line to beat out an infield single which scored Rollins for the walk-off win!

Pierre has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year.  It is hard to imagine not resigning him in the offseason, but that drama will play out later…

As for the Alumni in attendance, they had a lot of fun, especially Mike Schmidt who shot hot dogs into the crowd.  You will have to see it to believe it:

There were many other appearances as well, including John Kruk announcing the line-ups,  Dick Allen and Tony Taylor changing bases, and eight former Phillies, including Larry Andersen, Gary Matthews, Ricky Jordan, Ricky Botallico and Von Hayes singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Botallico, always an amazing sport, even wore the Phanatic’s jersey to entertain the crowd.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Overcome 7 Run Deficit To Beat The Dodgers

Before today’s game against the Dodgers, Shane Victorino was activated off the DL and lefty Antonio Bastardo was sent to AAA to make room.  Victorino did not start the game as Charlie Manuel had already told Ben Francisco he would start tonight.  Victorino did pinch hit in the 8th and drew a walk.  Francisco had a much more interesting game…more on that shortly.

P7260632 Blanton2.jpgPitcher Joe Blanton started the game and sadly, had another Blah-anton-type outing.  He allowed 3 runs right off the bat in the first inning.  After 5 2/3 innings, Blanton had walked 4 batters, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs total.  The hole was dug deeper by relief pitcher Chad Durbin who did not provide any relief.  Durbin allowed a 2-run homer in the 7th to put the Phillies down 6-2.

But the damage did not end there.  JC Romero pitched the 8th inning and while Romero has had trouble of late, this time it was the defense that let him down.  Mike Sweeney missed a ground ball at first to start the inning.  Carlos Ruiz had an error as well and two unearned runs scored.   Jose Contreras came in to relieve Romero and gave up another run.

Down 9-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, it looked like this game was over.  Then suddenly, the hits started coming.  It began with 4 straight hits: singles from Placido Polanco, Sweeney, Jayson Werth and a double from Francisco.  Wilson Valdez got another hit for the 4th run of the inning.  The 9-6 score seemed a tad more manageable.

4 Pre-Game (13).jpgThe Dodgers sent their closer in for the 9th, Jonathan Broxton.  The same 4 players that ignited the 8th inning rally started another one in the 9th.  Polanco was hit by a pitch; Sweeney and Werth both walked.  Francisco got on base after an error and 2 runs scored.  Just like that, the bases were loaded with no outs for Carlos Ruiz with a 9-8 score.  Ruiz smashed a walk-off double to win the game!

The Phillies came back from a 7 run deficit to win the game and take 2 of 3 games in the series.  When asked how he felt after the game, Ruiz told Gary Matthews, “I’m happy, I’m so happy.”  Well Chooch, we are SO happy too!  Werth then ran up behind him and dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Ruiz’s head.  I supposed shaving cream pies are out of fashion now.

Next up: the Mets in New York for the weekend.  Game time tomorrow is 7:10pm.


Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*


Interviews With Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina

Today I had the opportunity to speak with two former Phillies stars and, as an added bonus, I spoke with one of the players from the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Dallas Green is a former Phillies pitcher, former Phillies manager and currently holds a position as Senior Advisor to the General Manager with the Phillies. 
He is probably best known for being the manager of the Phillies 1980 World Series team.  With a career that ran from 1960-1967 as a player and 1979-1996 as a baseball manager, Green has an amazing history.  Here is our conversation:

Jenn: Name one thing people need to know about you?

Dallas: Well the obvious thing is I am the only manager in 100 years that won a World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies and that Charlie Manuel has joined me. But there are only two of us around and I am still going.

Jenn: How would you compare your managerial style with that of Charlie Manuel?

Dallas: Much different.  I mean, we had a different ball club too and there were different circumstance.  My style was (pause), some of the players didn’t like my style but we won a Championship and that’s all they remember now.

Jenn: There has been a real cultural change among players since the time you played.  Players did not usually socialize but today, they are out during batting practice, chatting and being friendly.  How do you feel about that?

Dallas: Well I’m still old school.  You know, I think the other team used to be respected but be left alone.  Even though what has happened in baseball is that with free agency everybody has become friends, and the union has been part of that, and the change of teams.  We never used to change teams.  We sign with the Phillies, we play with the Phillies most of our career, so that kind of stuff has changed considerably.

Jenn: You were born in Delaware and attended the University of Delaware

Dallas: Born and raised in Newport.

Jenn: Were you a Phillies fan growing up?

Dallas: Oh yeah I went to the old Blue Rocks stadium in Wilmington, Delaware and saw Robin Roberts first game there.  Obviously at the University of Delaware, Mr. Carpenter was a very big part of the Delaware sports program and I went to school on a scholarship that he provided so it was natural that I would sign with the Phillies. (Editors note: Bob Carpenter owned the Phillies for nearly 3 decades)

Jenn: You actually played with Robin Roberts…

Dallas: Well besides being a wonderful pitcher, he was a great man.  And all of us that were touched by him remember him that way.  He was a very special pitcher and unbelievable Hall of Fame statistics that are mind-boggling in today’s baseball.  But he’ll be remembered more as a great man.

Jenn: What is your favorite memory of Robin Roberts?

Dallas: Well, I think the first time we met was probably the best time.  We became very good friends.  He kind of befriended me my first Spring Training in a Phillies uniform and of course he was a veteran at that time and had already won a lot of baseball games.  So for him to befriend me at the beginning of my time, I always appreciated that.

Jenn: What is the strangest thing a fan has ever said to you or asked you?

Dallas: Probably this one. (laughs) I can’t recall that.

***I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Green for his time and generosity.

I also spoke with Gary “Sarge” Matthews who played for the Phillies from 1981-1983.  He is currently on staff as a TV and radio color announcer. 
In his 16-year playing career, Sarge played left field and ended with a lifetime .281 batting average and 234 home runs.  Here is our conversation:

Jenn: Yesterday I heard from Scott Franzke that you were into wood whittling.  What is that about?

Sarge: Well, I mean for the baby (Franzke’s newborn son, August) what I did, I knew some people in Florida.  It’s the Yoder’s company.  They do a lot of different, special baby-type things and instead of having the full name “August” I decided to go with “Gus.” It (wooden train) has a caboose on it, engine and everything so, quite appropriate for today (National Train Day).

Jenn: There has been a real cultural change among players since the time you played.  Players did not usually socialize but today, they are out during batting practice, chatting and being friendly.  How do you feel about that?

Sarge: Well, me personally I don’t particularly care for it but you got to realize too that, you know, things have changed so much that this is what they do now. I mean, they are friendly with each other.  We were friendly but it was after the game not during the game. So, you know they still give a solid effort in being friends with somebody but it would have been hard, difficult for me to. But this has been going on for about the last ten to twelve years or so that they’ve been pretty friendly. It’s just the time of the age.

Jenn: How did you get into broadcasting?

Sarge: Well, believe it or not I had when I finished playing, I had a radio show called The Major League Baseball Network and it was a syndicated show all over so that kind of got me involved with it. Then I did some things with the Toronto Blue Jays on television and radio. So, I mean if you know the game it’s still difficult because there are things you haven’t learned that you got to learn in school.  But at least the hard part is you know the game now you have to work on delivery and being able to convey your thoughts to the fans in a special kind of time. So, you learn to do it. Our job is not as difficult as the product on the field.  We don’t have as much stress win, lose or draw and then we reap the benefits like these two rings. (Sarge shows me both his 2008 World Series ring and 2009 National League pennant ring, one on each hand)

Jenn: What was your most embarrassing moment as a player?

Sarge: Well, I mean obviously everybody has missed balls, things like that.  You know really back when we were playing it was really more no-nonsense. And if it was an embarrassing thing like missing a ball, or I missed some fly ball or whatever before, it is not talked about very much. Especially if you lose because you know we didn’t play a lot of jokes or laugh a lot.  We’d play jokes for instance, Ryne Sandberg used to always tape on my directors chairs the little mechanisms, the sticks, and would just put them flush on there and every time I’d come in there I would fall right on the ground if sitting.  We would play more practical jokes then get on each other about embarrassing moments.

Jenn: What is something that most people do not know about you that you might like to share?

Sarge: Well I don’t know how many people know that I get my nails done. And when on the road, if at all possible, I always get some fresh Gardenias and put them all over the room because I love flowers.

***Thank you to Sarge for his time and sincerity.  Sarge is a great big teddy bear…easy to talk to and always entertaining.

My final conversation was with Virginia Ventura Marina; she played first base for the Rockford Peaches in the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 
The AAGPBL is the women’s league that the 1992 movie, “
A League of Their Own” was based on.

Jenn: You played for the Rockford Peaches…

Virginia: I played for the Rockford Peaches in 1951 and 1953. In 1952 I had a medical problem and then I played with the Chicago softball league down in Florida.

Jenn: How old were you when you started?

Virginia: I was fifteen.

Jenn: You were allowed to play at fifteen?

Virginia: Well, my father allowed me to come out here because my friend, Joan, played also for Rockford.  She was two years older than me.  But I had to finish my school year before I was allowed to come out. I went to Peoria in 1951 in the spring.  I was fifteen and we went to a two week try-out and I got a contract.

Jenn: How did you get interested in baseball to begin with?

Virginia: Well, my girlfriend, Joan Kneble, also played for Berger.  Her father started a team in our home town, Garfield, New Jersey because there was nothing for girls.  I met Joan at the YMCA.  They gave us a ½ day for swimming; that was it.  We started a team and from that, it spiraled and about 5 or 6 of us from our regional team made the Peaches.

Jenn: Did you follow baseball growing up and if so, did you have a favorite team?

Virginia: Yeah, you know I liked the Brooklyn Dodgers then they moved out of town. I used to go see the Yankees and the Giants because they used to take us (to the games) on buses.

Jenn: Do you still follow baseball today?

Virginia: I do, but not as close as I would like to.  I am too busy running around.

Jenn: How did you feel about the league being dissolved?

Virginia: Well, I didn’t return in ’54 because there were rumors going around that it was going to dissolve.  You know, it was a great experience for me and I would have loved to go back.  But being that they would dissolve them, my father wouldn’t sign the contract.  You had to be 21 at that time and they did have a team that toured around the country.

Jenn: What did you think of the movie “A League of Their Own?”

Virginia: Those girls were the originals.  They started in ’43.  Great movie.  I mean it’s a little Hollywood, but good.

Jenn: What keeps you busy these days?

Virginia: Well, I am retired. I’d been selling real estate for almost 30 years.  I’m not doing that now right now.  I’m going to be 75.  I run around with my daughter and my grandson, things like that.

***I would also like to thank Virginia for her time as well.  It was a true honor to meet her; she was a pleasure to talk to.

Thank you as well to the staff of Philadelphia’s National Train Day for inviting me to speak with these honored guests.  It is very much appreciated. :O)

No Charlie, No Offense, No Win

Today’s  4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was disappointing.  With an offense that looked to be getting back on track, the Phillies bats took a little nap today.  While they collected 9 hits and 4 walks, the Phils simply could not score those runners.   Shane Victorino had the only RBI of the day.  Leaving  9 men on base is just not going to get the job done.

With two errors committed in the first inning alone, things looked scary early on.  But Joe Blanton did escape the inning, even after hitting a batter.  He lasted 6 innings and allowed 3 runs total, which is a quality start.  But the offense gave Blanton no support so he walked away with his second loss in his second start of the year.

 Four relief pitchers were used and Danys Baez gave up the final Braves run in the 9th.  The line-up was a little odd today; Chase Utley got the day off and Placido Polanco moved to second with Greg Dobbs at third.  Manager Charlie Manuel was absent from the game as well for “personal” reasons.  Pete Mackanin managed in his place.  Maybe the players were just missing Charlie today and decided to give the bats a rest?  Who knows…

But they will get another shot at the Braves tomorrow with the very fashionable pink bats, in honor of Mother’s Day.  I will be there and hope to have some awesome photos when I return ;o)  Game time is 1:35pm.

National Train Day

I attended National Train Day at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station today and had the opportunity to interview Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  Those interviews will be posted shortly.

In the meantime, here is a quick look at the event.  There was a historical display of baseball memorabilia as it related to the time when rail travel was prevalent for these events.  Here is a bit of that:

BB stuff train day.jpgThere were also model trains on display and some interactive exhibits, like this digital photo fun where you and your family could be put on cartoon trains:

TD stuff.jpgOverall, the event was very well organized and jam packed with interested people looking for some free entertainment.  And let’s face it, how many times each year can you amuse the kids for free?  A job well done :O)  Big thanks to the staff for inviting me!


Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography


*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*


Moyer Makes History

The age-defying miracle that is Jamie Moyer never ceases to amaze.  Tonight, with a 7-0 win over the Braves, Moyer became the oldest pitcher in history to throw a complete game shut-out.  Not only that, but he did not walk a single batter and gave up only 2 hits.  That is a miniscule 2 hits away from a perfect game.  Unbelievable.

P4211377 Moyer.jpgThis is truly history being made right before our eyes; it is something we may never see again.  A 47-year old man defies the laws of time.  The last time Moyer threw a 2-hit shut-out was in 1986, 24 years ago.  In his final at-bat in the 8th inning, the crowd went wild as Moyer kept fouling pitches off and worked an 11-pitch at-bat.  As if the pitching were not impressive enough, Moyer shows everyone he is a class act and a true professional.

As for the offense, Jayson Werth continues to maul opposing pitchers, launching a 3-run shot into the left field seats in the 3rd inning.  Raul Ibanez appears to have slipped the slump and went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.  Wilson Valdez collected the last 2 RBI to make up for hitting into a double play earlier in the game with 2 men on base.  7 out of 8 starting position players had a hit and Chase Utley was on base all 4 times he batted with 2 hits and 2 walks.

The Phillies will take this 4-game win streak into tomorrow afternoon’s game.  Joe Blanton will make his 2nd start of the year; game time is 3:10pm.  But before you check out the game, stop by the 30th Street Station for National Train Day where you can get autographs from former Phillies, Dallas Green and Gary Matthews.

Go Phillies!


Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography


*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*


Former Phillies To Sign Autographs At National Train Day

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 8th at the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, two former Phillies stars will be at the National Train Day event.  Manager of the 1980 World Series team and former Phillies pitcher, Dallas Green, will be signing autographs from 11:30am to 1:00pm. 
A Pre-game warmups (42).jpg
Then from 1:00pm until 2:30pm, former Phillies left fielder and current Phillies broadcaster Gary “Sarge” Matthews will also be signing.  Another baseball legend, Virginia Ventura Manina, of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League will also be on hand for autographs from 2:30pm to 4:00pm.

The event is FREE and open to the public.  Here are some more details about the event:

An experience for the whole family, National Train Day allows Americans to Discover the Rail Way while enjoying free live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, kids’ entertainment, model train displays, cooking demonstrations and tours of notable private railroad cars, Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains.


Exclusively at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station celebration will be the exhibit “Baseball Junction: The History of Baseball and the American Railroad.” In the early days of America’s favorite pastime, baseball teams traveled by train across the country to meet their rivals on the diamond. This exhibit will showcase memorabilia, photos, news clippings and videos depicting the time period when baseball and rail travel went hand in hand. Former players will be appearing, and photos from the recent Amtrak Series will be displayed.


James Beard Award-winning chef and Amtrak Culinary Advisory Board member, Tom Douglas, of Tom Douglas Restaurants in Seattle, Wash., will prepare a dish currently featured in Amtrak’s Acela Express First Class service during two live cooking demonstrations, 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Chef Douglas will be assisted by Chef Kevin Miller, Gate Gourmet, and Amtrak Chef Christian Hannah.


The event will feature live musical performances from the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale at 12:00 p.m. and Phresh Select at 2:30 p.m. Additionally, the Radio Disney Road Crew will be on hand to entertain throughout the day.


The 30th Street Station is located at 30th and Market Street .  Visit the National Train Day web site for more details.


Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography


*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*