On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies announced the passing of an organizational legend. Dallas Green (82) had been a player, scout, manager, and front office executive with the team.
The Phillies released an official statement announcing the sad news
“We mourn the passing of Dallas Green. The Phillies have lost a great man and wonderful friend. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
As a young pitcher, Green was 6’4″ and possessed a fastball nearly as big as his height. He was signed for the Phillies prior to the 1955 season out of the University of Delaware by legendary scout Jocko Collins.
Making his big league debut in 1960, Green would pitch in the big leagues for eight seasons. For the first five of those years, Green helped the Phillies go from doormats to near-pennant winners.
Green went 20-22 over 167 games in that stretch, making 44 starts. He compiled a 249/186 K:BB ratio in allowing 602 hits over 528 innings.
Green would appear in parts of three more seasons, one each with the Washington Senators and New York Mets. He then closed out his playing career with the Phillies in 1967.
GREEN’S POST-PLAYING CAREER
Green moved into coaching in the Phils system upon his retirement. Then in 1972 he became the head of the Phillies farm system.
As the Farm Director, Green oversaw the drafting and/or development of many of the players who would form the core of the great Phillies teams of the mid-70’s through mid-80’s.
With the club floundering to a fourth place finish in the 1979 season, Green was called upon by GM Paul Owens to take over as the manager. This was essentially in order to assess the players on the roster. But he was kept on for the 1980 season, and the rest is history.
In 1980, Green drove a veteran, underachieving Phillies team to reclaim the NL East crown. Against the resourceful Houston Astros, he piloted the club to a thrilling comeback victory in five games in what many still consider the greatest NLCS in history.
In the World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Green’s squad bolted out to a two games to none lead. The Royals then battled back to even the series up. But the Phils captured Game Five in Kansas City to take a 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic.
Back in Philadelphia on October 21, 1980 the Phillies would down the Royals by a 4-1 score at Veteran’s Stadium. Green had skippered the club to the first world championship in their 97-year history.
GREEN HEADS TO THE WINDY CITY
He left after the 1981 season to become General Manager with the Chicago Cubs. In that role, Green orchestrated one of the most infamous trades in Phillies history. In the deal, Green obtained veteran shortstop Larry Bowa for Ivan De Jesus. But Green also got the Phils to toss-in a minor league infielder by the name of Ryne Sandberg.
It all resulted in one big season, with the Cubs capturing the NL East crown in 1984. The Cubs trounced the San Diego Padres by 13-0 in the 1984 NLCS opener. Then they moved out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. But the Friars roared back to take three straight and win the series.
The Cubs never recovered, disappointing their fans over the next three seasons. Green, who had by then become club President, would resign following the 1987 campaign.
But during his tenure on the North Side, Green continued to do what he does best. He rebuilt the Cubs farm system from top to bottom. During his time the club added prospects such as Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer, and Mark Grace.
OFF TO THE BIG APPLE
Green was hired as the New York Yankees skipper for the 1989 season. But the Yanks went just 56-65, and Green’s fiery personality clashed with owner George Steinbrenner. He was fired by Steinbrenner with the team in last place.
In 1993, Green was back at the helm of a team in the Big Apple, hired as the Mets manager. He would last for parts of four seasons, compiling a 229-283 record. His 1995 club would finish in second place in the NL East, but with a losing record.
That would be Green’s final big league managerial opportunity. Overall between his time with the Phillies, Yankees, and Mets he compiled a 454-478 record in parts of eight seasons.
RETURN TO PHILADELPHIA
He was then hired back with the Phillies, and would remain in the club’s front office from that point forward. Green served as an advisor to the club’s General Managers, including Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro Jr, and most recently to Matt Klentak.
Per Frank Fitzpatrick for Philly.com, the local members of the Baseball Writers Association of America established the Dallas Green Special Achievement Award for meritorious service by a player or other member of the organization in 2004.
In his excellent piece, Fitzpatrick quoted Bowa, who played under Green, and became the Phillies manager and a coach with the team during his later advisory tenure:
“Dallas was what Philly is all about: toughness, honesty, and fairness. Without Dallas, the Phillies would not have won the World Series in 1980…He was a huge impact on my career as a player, manager, and coach. He will truly be missed.”
MY PERSONAL FEELINGS ON GREEN
I was a 17-year old Phillies fan when Green took over from former skipper Danny Ozark in that 1979 season. I recall not being happy with the move at the time, thinking that Ozark was being cast aside for one bad season after helping turn the Phils into perennial division favorites.
But I came to respect Green, and to see the difference that his confrontational, no-nonsense, combustible style meant to what had become a complacent group of talented Phillies players.
We don’t always like people who tell us what we need to be told, when that is a difficult truth to hear. Green was never afraid to give anyone the honest truth. And his judgement was rarely wrong.
Starting in 1955 and continuing over much of the next six decades, Dallas Green was a vital part of the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
He will always be remembered in this town as a Phillies legend. May he rest in peace, and may his family and close friends find comfort in this difficult time of loss.