Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dallas Green made the Phils - and us - winners

It was the voice the Phillies heard in their dreams - or maybe their nightmares.

No, not Harry Kalas.

Harry's dulcet baritone likely eased the players into lullaby land. But it was the booming bravado of Dallas Green that jarred them from their reverie.

The person who coined the saying that some people are larger than life probably had Dallas Green in mind.

Green was a giant - figuratively and literally - on the Philly sports scene.

He took a team of chronic underachievers, stuck his boot firmly in their posteriors, and dragged them kicking and screaming to the team's first World Series championship.

For that - meaning his no-nonsense approach to the game and demand that his players bust it every night - he earned the undying respect of Philly fans. That parade in 1980 wasn't bad either.

Green, who made his home for years on a farm in West Grove out in Chester County, died Wednesday at 82.

Green made it clear when he took over for the fired Danny Ozark late in still one more disappointing season in 1979 that things were going to be different.

"The Phillies didn't fire Danny Ozark," Green told his troops. "You did."

Green stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and his voice matched his physique.

He coddled no one, from superstars like Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose, to the last guy on his bench.

The players hated him for it. But eventually they turned things around, caught fire in September 1980 after another legendary Green torching, and delivered the city its first championship since the Flyers captured back-to-back Stanley Cups in the '70s. Green spent six decades in baseball, all but a few of them as part of the Phillies organization. He came out of Delaware as a pitcher and compiled a 20-22 record. That led to one his classic quips: "I'm a 20-game winner, it just took me five years to do it."

But he made his real mark on Philly off the field, where he coached and managed in the minors, then took over the team's farm system, delivering home-grown talent such as Schmidt and Bowa to his mentor, Phillies GM Paul Owens.

When Owens and Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter decided to make a change late in that 1979 season, they turned to Green.

The Phillies likely heard him coming long before they saw him.

Green's voice shook up a Phillies clubhouse that badly needed it.

But it did more than that.

It made them - and us - winners.

Thanks, Dallas.

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CLICK HERE for a look at Dallas Green's legendary career.

CLICK HERE for Jack McCaffery's look at the man who reshaped the Phillies.

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