The Philadelphia Phillies have been a professional baseball team since 1883. In their 139 year existence, the Phillies have maintained a long-standing tradition of retiring the jersey numbers of their players elected into the Hall of Fame. The Phillies have retired ten numbers, including #42 for Jackie Robinson.
The Phils have recently added two numbers to the collection: Dick Allen’s #15 in 2020 and Roy Halladay’s #34 in 2021. The organization made an exception to the rule by honoring Dick Allen, although the organization had expected Allen to be finally added to the Hall this year.
Changing the Status Quo
While the Phillies tradition gives a prestigious feel to the honor, it needs to change. Numerous Phillies’ players have donned the pinstripes over the years and will not reach Cooperstown. Guys like Darren Dalton, John Kruk, and Larry Bowa are all-time Phillies who did not make the Hall of Fame.
Yet, without their contributions to this organization, they still should be honored. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot this year. While Rollins seems to have earned enough votes to stay on another round, Howard will not have that luxury. Both Ryan and Jimmy are all-time Phillies players and helped bring a championship to the city of brotherly love.
It would be a shame for #6 and #11 to be worn again in Philadelphia, and no player should feel as though they deserve to wear those digits on their jerseys. In the future, guys like Chase Utley and Cole Hamels will also face the Cooperstown ballot. Their fate for the Hall should not dictate whether or not another Phillie can wear #26 or #35. I believe the Phillies’ ownership should change their standard to incorporate Phillies’ greats who just weren’t quite good enough for the Hall of Fame, yet mean a little bit more just than the Wall of Fame.
Making a Case for Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz might not have the numbers that other Phillies legends have produced, but his mark on the organization will last forever.
Aside from having an all-time great nickname with Chooch, Ruiz has caught some of the biggest and historical games in the franchise’s history. Big plays both behind the plate and with a bat, here are some memories to help spark that love for #51 that all Phillies fans share.
The Perfect Catcher
Carlos Ruiz has a unique place of history in baseball history. Chooch is tied with fellow catcher Jason Varitek by having caught four no-hitters during his career. While all no-hitters are important and should be looked upon with excitement, Carlos Ruiz was behind the dish for some significant games in the MLB’s history.
Carlos was behind the plate in Miami when Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the then Florida Marlins. Ruiz called the game, and Halladay made it well known he could not have accomplished this feat without his buddy calling pitches. The Halladay/Ruiz perfect game was the 20th ever thrown in Major League history. Carlos was also behind the plate when Roy no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in the 2011 NLDS. This would be the first post-season no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.
Chooch would also catch a combined no-hitter by Cole Hamels and the Phils’ bullpen in 2014 against the Atlanta Braves. His final no-hitter would occur in 2015 when Cole Hamels no-hit the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
World Series Heroics
From time to time, Carlos Ruiz would also shine at the plate. Chooch came up clutch numerous times for the Phillies. Possibly his best moment as a Phil was during the 2008 World Series.
In the bottom of the ninth in Game 3, Ruiz would single home a run to win the game for the boys in red.
And of course, one of the two biggest strikeouts in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Time to Evolve
Without Chooch, there may not be a 2008 banner flying around in the center field at Citizens Bank Park. Also without Ruiz, there would not have been four no-hitters thrown from 2011-2015.
Statistically speaking, Carlos Ruiz might not be one of the best catchers to ever suit up for the Phillies. He is undoubtedly below Mike Lieberthal, Bob Boone, and Darren Dalton in the lore of our beloved franchise. However, Carlos Ruiz’s impact on this franchise is immeasurable.
John Middleton and the owners of our favorite franchise need to change the standard for jersey retirements in South Philly. Let our favorite players from the last era in Phillies baseball get the honors they deserve, whether or not they end up in Cooperstown.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire