Blog Archives

Goodbye, Roy Halladay

(May 14, 1977 – November 7, 2017)

Roy Halladay perished in a plane crash today in the Gulf of Mexico. He was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, winning 203 games and striking out 2117 batters in his 16-year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies, 1998-2013. Halladay was an 8-time All-Star, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, and finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young five other times. In 2010, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history as the Phillies topped the Reds in the NLDS.


Goodbye, Darren Daulton

(January 3, 1962 – August 6, 2017)


A three-time All-Star who played the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, catcher Darren Daulton succumbed to brain cancer on Sunday. Daulton finished his playing career with the Florida Marlins, announcing his retirement after winning the 1997 World Series with the Fish.

Jim at The Phillies Room posted a nice memory of the time he and his son met “Dutch” and a retrospective of Daulton’s base Topps cards.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Lance Parrish

1988 National League All-Star Lance Parrish Philadelphia Phillies

Lance Parrish joined the Phillies in 1987 after several successful seasons in Detroit, where he had made six All-Star teams. He only spent two years with Philadelphia before returning to the American League, joining the California Angels and making his eighth All-Star team in 1990.


Parrish’s similarity scores on show a slew of well-known names, including Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, and Gabby Hartnett.

Goodbye, Jim Bunning

(October 23, 1931 – May 26, 2017)


Nine-time All-Star and former United States Senator, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning passed away yesterday. He was the second pitcher to collect 100 victories and 1000 strikeouts in both the American and National Leagues, threw a perfect game, and one of just seven pitchers to throw a no-hitter for two different teams. In fifteen years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Bunning never received the necessary 75% support from the BBWAA. He fell four votes short in 1988, his twelfth year on the ballot. He was finally inducted in 1996 via the Veterans Committee.

A few years ago, Gary Cieradowski did a great piece on Bunning at The Infinite Baseball Card Set.

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook (2016)

Home Game

Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family
by Bret Book and Kevin Cook
Crown Archetype, 2016
272 pages

Being the son of a major leaguer must be daunting, with athletic expectations high. Being a third-generation ballplayer, especially when no one ever followed both their father and grandfather into the professional ranks before, the pressure had to be immense. But not for Bret Boone, who was not satisfied to have a famous last name. He wanted to prove that he belonged, and not just a feel-good story for the media.

In Home Game, Boone admits that he regrets the way he approached his big league debut. He should have given more credit to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both who had solid careers. Ray led the league in RBI and was an All-Star; Bob showed him up by becoming one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game and making multiple All-Star Games. Bret carried on the tradition of family excellence, leading the league in RBI like his grandfather and becoming a stalwart defensive second baseman and All-Star in his own right. And he was not alone; he was joined by his brother Aaron Boone at the top level of professional baseball.

Boone honors his heritage, showing respect to his late grandfather and his father, relating a handful of stories that were passed down to him. He tells about growing up in the Phillies clubhouse, getting batting tips from Mike Schmidt, and later, when his dad was with the Angels, playing catch with Reggie Jackson. He discusses his disappointment in being drafted so low out of high school, and in not being drafted until the fifth round after a few years at USC. He recalls his time in the minor leagues and his struggle to get to Seattle, where he butted heads with Lou Piniella at first. He also tells of the hazing he endured from Jay Buhner, and the friendship that developed as he handled it in stride.

Boone mentions the allegations made by Jose Canseco, denying that he ever took steroids and stating emphatically that their supposed conversation at second base never happened. In his denial, Boone does admit to using greenies, but says of those who claim ignorance when steroids are found in their system, “It’s your job to know what’s in your body. It’s your job to stay clean and test clean.”

There is some foul language throughout—not as much as some autobiographies contain, but it is present. Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family is a good behind-the-scenes look at the game, covering three generations of All-Star baseball. Aside from the Boones, there is mention of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey, and Barry Larkin, among others. It may be some time before we see another three-generational All-Star family, and this peek inside the family tradition of the Boones is well worth the read.

Learn more about Crown Archetype.

Purchase Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook.

God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen by Mitchell Nathanson (2016)

God Almighty Hisself Dick Allen biography Mitchell Nathanson

God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen
by Mitchell Nathanson
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
416 pages

One of the most polarizing players of the 1960s and 70s, Dick Allen never seemed to be happy. He had enormous talent, but he did not believe he received the respect he deserved. He faced racism, bad press, hecklers, and more during his career, and made plenty of enemies along the way. In this new biography by Mitchell Nathanson, those events are chronicled and put into historical context in the best possible way, using newspaper articles and archived interviews as the primary source for information, with newer interviews conducted to flesh things out when needed. Allen himself declined to participate in the interview process, but the quality of reporting throughout his career served to paint a portrait of the oft disgruntled star.

There is very little to criticize in this book as far as the writing goes; Nathanson deals with the material honestly and openly, not shying away from the negativity that always seemed to surround Allen. My primary criticism would be with the title, God Almighty Hisself. Not knowing the context, one might assume that Allen referred to himself in such a way. The quote from which the title is taken actually refers to the troublesome nature of dealing with the player, with a former manager quipping, “I believed God Almighty hisself would have trouble handling Richie Allen.” As such, the book should have been titled differently.

Overall, however, this biography of Dick Allen is an enjoyable read, shedding light on the surly superstar who often held out for more money, was frequently traded, and was dismissed all too soon by the voters for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Learn more about University of Pennsylvania Press.

Purchase God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen by Mitchell Nathanson.

Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games (Images of Baseball) by Brian C. Engelhardt (2015)

Reading Big League Exhibition Games

Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games
by Brian C. Engelhardt
Arcadia Publishing, 2015
128 pages

The “Images of Baseball” series has featured some of baseball’s best major league teams, from the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates to the 1975 Boston Red Sox. In the latest entry in the series, a minor league town is the focus. Reading, Pennsylvania, is currently the host to the Philadelphia Phillies’ AA franchise. Prior to their affiliation with the Phillies, Reading served as a farm team for the Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Cleveland Indians. A number of big-league stars made a stop in Reading before ascending to the top level of professional baseball, including Carl Furillo, Roger Maria, and Mike Schmidt.

The main thrust of this book, however, is not the minor leaguers who became stars, though they are certainly mentioned throughout. The main subject is the exhibition games featuring major leaguers. From 1874 through 1964, seventeen different franchises came to the town to play a semiprofessional or minor league club. From 1967 through 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies and Reading Phillies played 22 times, both teams winning ten and losing ten, while two games ended in a tie.

The photographs featured in Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games come from four principal sources: the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, Berks County History Center, Society for American Baseball Research member T. Scott Brandon’s personal collection, and the Philadelphia Phillies. Also included are box scores lifted from the pages of the Reading Eagle. The oldest box score is from May 21, 1875, when the Boston Red Stockings rolled over the Reading Actives, 27-11.

The final big league exhibition in Reading was played in 2000 between the AA team and the big league Phillies. Reading won 5-2 on a grand slam by Pete Rose Jr. The seven-inning game took an hour and 36 minutes to play, and drew a crowd of 9,307, according to the box score.

Though many of the photos featured in Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games were not actually taken in Reading, the collection is nicely put together with interesting commentary by author Brian C. Engelhardt.

Learn more about Arcadia Publishing.

Purchase Reading’s Big League Exhibition Games by Brian C. Engelhardt.

Philadelphia Phenoms by Michael Baumann (2014)


Philadelphia Phenoms
by Michael Baumann
Sports Publishing, 2014
256 pages

Every city that fields professional sports teams takes pride in the greatest players on those teams. Some cities, such as Philadelphia, are fortunate enough to have professional teams in multiple sports. Michael Baumann makes it his task to identify the “most amazing athletes to play in the city of Brotherly Love” in Philadelphia Phenoms. Whether wearing the uniform of the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, or Flyers, there is no shortage of athletic prowess in Philadelphia.

There are some very obvious selections: Mike Schmidt, Julius Erving, Reggie White, and Wilt Chamberlain are all present. Older stars that may be overlooked by younger fans, such as Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn, and Chuck Bednarik are also discussed. The most interesting chapter, however, focuses on the Phillies’ current second baseman, Chase Utley.

Baumann makes a compelling argument for including Utley rather than his contemporaries Jimmy Rollins or Ryan Howard. According to Baumann, Utley is among the ten best athletes in Philadelphia history, one of the ten best second basemen ever in all of baseball, and the second-best Philadelphia position player behind Schmidt. Part of the author’s argument stems from the fact that Utley does everything well, but does not particularly stand out in any one area. However, from 2005-2009, Utley has the second-best WAR in the National League (five points behind Albert Pujols), and is a full 12.3 points ahead of third-place David Wright. Baumann writes that “œit’s utterly bizarre for a player like Utley, someone who played for good teams in a big media market, got his jersey dirty, played hard, and posted spectacular seasons to be underrated, but here we are.” It will be interesting to see how Hall of Fame voters deal with Chase Utley’s career when it comes time to decide whether he belongs in Cooperstown.

Philadelphia Phenoms is, first and foremost, a book for fans of the teams and players in that city. However, general sports fans will also find some interesting anecdotes and conversation starters in Baumann’s writing.

Learn more about Sports Publishing.

Purchase Philadelphia Phenoms by Michael Baumann.

More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies (And the Phillie Phanatic Too) by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne (2013)


More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps: The Story of the 1993 Phillies
(And the Phillie Phanatic Too)

by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne
Sports Publishing, 2013
272 pages

[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]

The 1993 Phillies were one of many good teams to fall short of winning a title but they were truly one of a kind. They didn’t have any superstars, just a bunch of guys who played the game hard, with heart and left it all on the field. In More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps, authors Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne take a behind the scenes look at the 1993 Phillies, a team that lost the World Series that year in heartbreaking fashion. Readers also get a unique behind the scenes look at the Phillie Phanatic, the most popular mascot in the game.

The Phanatic has been pulling pranks and making fans laugh—or making them angry—since April 25, 1978, and you get to hear all about what went into making the Phanatic successful from the men who brought life to the green suit. As you read through the stories of the 1993 Phillies, stories about the Phanatic keep popping up when you least expect it, just like real life! The players had just as much fun as the Phanatic, from John Kruk, Darren Daulton and Curt Schilling to Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, you will learn about the players’ approach to the game and that season and how it led to their success. Even if you are not a Phillies fan, More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps is a great read—not just for baseball fans, but for anyone who likes to laugh and can relate to people who have been written off by others but are able to rise to success.

Learn more about Sports Publishing.

Purchase More than Beards, Bellies and Biceps by Bob Gordon and Tom Burgoyne.

2015 (ex)Reds, 1990 Score style: Aaron Harang (Philadelphia Phillies)

x002 PHI Aaron Harang

Aaron Harang last pitched for the Reds in 2010, and has bounced around quite a bit since then, appearing for the Padres, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, and Braves, and spending time with but never pitching for the Rockies and Indians. After a decent stint with Atlanta last year, Philadelphia signed Harang to a one-year, $5 million deal. The 36-year old has never made an All-Star team, though he finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2006.

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