In 1998, Dallas Green came back home to stay.
Home to “Big D” – as the 6 foot 5 inch Green was affectionately known – was the Phillies organization. The official title given to him by then Phillies General Manager Ed Wade was that of “Special Advisor” to the GM. It was a role that was a little bit of everything and it was a role that was perfect for Green, the Phillies Wall-of-Famer with the booming voice, and it was a role that Green passionately fulfilled until his death yesterday, Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the age of 82 after a lengthy battle with Kidney disease.
Although Green pitched in the Majors from 1960- 1967 (the first five with the Phillies), the 6-5, 210 lb local product (he went to Conrad High School, in Wilmington, Del) actually thought basketball was going to be his ticket to fame, as he earned a basketball scholarship to the University of Delaware. However, he came out of Delaware as a hard-throwing pitcher whose playing career was ultimately hampered by an arm injury, that happened back when surgery couldn’t necessarily fix most arm injuries pitchers suffered. So once his playing days were officially over, he came back home to the Phillies and joined their player-development staff. It was in that role that Green helped to develop that great core of players that arrived in the 1970’s including Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski and Gary Maddox – to name a few.
Of course, Green is most famously known as the no-nonsense Manager of the World Champion 1980 Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies actually brought Green in as Manager at the end of the 1979 season after General Manager Paul Owens began to worry that the Phillies collection of talent was beginning to run out of time, which led to the firing of manager Danny Ozark. Ozark had managed a Phillies team from 1973 until then that was known for being extremely talented, but thought to be a bit soft, as they had won three consecutive National League East Division Championships (1976,77,78), but each of those seasons the Phillies would fall in the National League Championship Series, despite being favorites to head to the World Series.
With the team badly underperforming in 1979, Owens promoted Green, who knew the players from his time in talent development, to light a fire under the underperforming team. Green made the style he expected from the Phillies known right from the beginning. Shortly after becoming Manager he said at the time, “If the players don’t care whether Philly has a winner, I really don’t want to be associated with it. I’ll go back to my job in the minor league system and be tickled to death to work with kids who have a great burning desire to make something of their careers.” The Phillies would finish the remainder of the 1979 season by going 19-11, and of course under Green’s famous aggressiveness, clubhouse tirades, and tactic of calling out players through the media, managed the Phillies into World Series Champions in 1980.
After leaving the Phillies (Green tended to have controversy and difficulty at times since he was non-apologetically loud, opinionated, and prone to speak his mind), he went to run the Chicago Cubs, then managed both the Yankees and the Mets. But after leaving the Mets, we come back to where we started our story, as Big-D came home to the only organization he would go on to say many times he ever truly loved.
And as that Special Advisor from 1998 until Wednesday, Dallas would continue to speak his mind, clashing with the likes of Scott Rolen, one year – and even questioning Charlie Manuel’s managing style. However, Dallas prided himself on being someone who, after speaking his mind, would be more than happy to actually talk it out with the party in question. Such a scenario happened with the Charlie Manuel situation, after which Dallas admitted he was wrong and that he saw the merits of the way Manuel managed the more modern player, and out of that initial clash a terrific friendship developed between the only two men to lead the Phillies to World Series Titles.
Dallas Green was a loving family man who is survived by his wife Sylvia, whom he met while at Delaware, and four children. We all wept with Dallas and his family in January 2011 as his little 9-year-old granddaughter, Christina, was one of the six people killed in the Tucson Shooting that also critically wounded United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords among 15 others who were injured in Tucson, Arizona. Five weeks after this heart-breaking tragedy, Dallas was back at Spring Training and on the field where he was every year, and would be until this season when he was just too sick to make it. Back then, he decided he would talk openly about the tragedy and how his family was doing, admitting how rough it was but saying that coming to Spring Training helped because he felt like it helped fill that hole that was ripped right through him – if only a bit – because the Phillies were such a passion of his.
At that time, there was a myriad of players, officials, reporters, and front office personnel who went well out of their way to pay their respects to Dallas that Spring Training, whether they always got along or not.
Respect was something Dallas Green had earned from the many baseball people he came into contact with throughout his storied Phillies Career as a player, Minor League Director of Development, World-Series-winning Manager, Special Advisor to four GM’s, Spring Training Fixture, or The Man Who Always Told It Like He Saw It. The Phillies family has lost a major cog and his booming and opinionated voice will be missed.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports