MLB Top 5: Philadelphia Phillies Catchers and Managers

This is the first article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Philadelphia Phillies. In this installment are catchers and managers.

Professional baseball in Philadelphia predates the two established major leagues, with a team called the Athletics ranking as one of the two most successful franchises in the five-year history of the National Association. Another team called the Athletics was a charter member of the National League in 1876, but was terrible, lacked money and ultimately was removed after refusing to make a road trip. The two biggest cities in the country at that time, New York and Philadelphia, were devoid of a National League team for several years until league presidents William Hulbert and Abraham Mills (who took over after Hulbert died of a heart attack) decided to address the situation. Two smaller market teams, the Troy Trojans and Worcester Ruby Legs (or Brown Stockings), were disbanded and replaced in 1883 by the New York Giants and the Philadelphias, which was changed to Phillies after three years.

The team’s first owners were Alfred Reach, a former player who made his money starting a sporting goods company (partnering with leather manufacturer Benjamin Shibe, who would go on to own the Athletics), and Colonel John Rogers, a Philadelphia lawyer and politician. The team would feature several Hall of Fame players in the early part of its existence and finished in the top half of the National League 15 times in the 20-year tenure of Reach and Rogers. The Phillies had second-place finishes in 1887 and 1902, and the 94 wins they produced in 1899 was a franchise record that lasted for 77 years.

The direction of the franchise was tied to the team’s performance on the field. The Phillies were successful during their early period of stable ownership but that would not last. Reach began focusing more on his business and Rogers tried to take control from him. Eventually, the pair agreed to sell the team to a syndicate headed by stockbroker James Potter, a move that led to five owners in a little more than a decade and several poor showings in the standings. Potter was a socialite who only cared about status, not baseball. He was also hampered financially after having to pay out more than 80 lawsuits after balcony seating collapsed when fans rushed to one side to watch a fight outside National League Park (Reach and Rogers were sued as well since they still owned the stadium), an event that became known as “Black Saturday.”

Next came Israel Durham, another Philadelphia politician and Charles Taft, who both owned the team in 1909. Taft was a successful attorney, a member of Congress, the son of the former U. S. attorney general and the brother of the nation’s 27th president. He was seconded by Charles Murphy, who was also the part-owner of the Cubs, a practice that was overlooked at the time. Durham died later that year, and his shares were purchased by sportswriter Horace Fogel, who became team president. Fogel had some strange ideas, such as changing the team’s name to the Live Wires. However, he got in trouble when he told some of his sportswriter friends that the 1912 pennant race was being fixed. As a result, he was banned from baseball.

The following year, Taft sold his interest in the Phillies and bought the Cubs, with control of the Philadelphia franchise to a syndicate headed by former Pirates executive William Locke and included his cousin, William Baker, a former New York City police commissioner and Lewis Ruch, a New York businessman. Locke passed away seven months after buying into the team and Baker held control until 1930. At the beginning of Baker’s tenure, the Phillies won their first pennant before losing to the Red Sox in 1915, then finishing second each of the following two seasons. However, the team fell back into the second division for the rest of his tenure, including finishing last in the league eight times. Although he had wealth, Baker was unwilling to spend on the franchise, leaving the team in shambles and the stadium (by then renamed Baker Bowl) falling apart.

Baker passed away in 1930, and Ruch, the son of a soldier who died in the Civil War, took over ownership. When his health started to fail, he resigned his role as president, which was given to Gerald Nugent, a former Baker assistant who married Mae Mallon, the team’s secretary and friend to Mrs. Baker. When William Baker died, he left shares to both his wife and Mallon, and when Mrs. Baker died four years later, Mallon got her shares as well, making the couple primary owners. While Nugent held the top title, Mallon was named vice president, the highest role a woman had ever held with a major league club. Nugent was known for his frequent trading, but he, like Baker, struggled to pay the team’s bills and salaries. However, he succeeded in getting the Phillies out of the crumbling Baker Bowl and into Shibe Park as tenants of the Athletics.

Financial issues were taking their toll and Nugent was forced out by National League President Ford Frick, with the team coming under the control of 33-year-old William Cox, a friend of famed executive Branch Rickey, who quickly showed he did not belong. Although Cox was a good businessman (he also ran a lumber company), he had little knowledge of baseball and, while in a feud with new manager Bucky Harris, was suspended for life for betting on his own team. After the fiasco, the Phillies finally found a stable owner in Robert Carpenter Jr., whose father owned the DuPont chemical company. Over the 60-year period from 1916-75, Philadelphia had just 15 seasons of .500 or better play, had four second-place finishes and won their second pennant in 1950. That season, the “Whiz Kids,” named for their group of young stars, won 91 games before being swept by the powerful Yankees in the World Series (although the first three games were all decided by one run).

The Phillies had six straight winning seasons in the 1960s and gradually improved over the next decade at their new home, Veterans Stadium, until their greatest period of success. Carpenter stepped down from his post as president in 1972, leaving his son, Robert III (Ruly), in charge. From 1976-83, Philadelphia won five division titles and made six playoff appearances in eight years. The Phillies won 101 games in back-to-back years and finally broke through to win the first championship in their 98-year history with a 4-2 win over the Royals in the 1980 World Series. Philadelphia won its fourth pennant three years later but fell to Baltimore. Ruly Carpenter sold the team to William Giles, the son of former Yankees executive and National League president Warren Giles.

Philadelphia was competitive over the next decade, but made the playoffs just once, in 1993 when they won the pennant but lost to Toronto in the World Series. Afterward, the Phillies fell to the bottom of the league before working their way back to the top. Giles stepped down as chairman after 18 years in 1997 and he currently serves as the team’s chairman emeritus. David Montgomery, one of the members of the consortium who bought the team with Giles, became the primary owner, a position he held for the next 17 years. He oversaw the construction and opening of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, which was the home to a team that won five straight division titles from 2007-11. Under manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies reached two straight World Series, beating the Rays for their second championship in 2008 and losing to the Yankees the following year. Philadelphia once again dropped to the bottom of the division after their string of postseason success. When Montgomery took a leave of absence to get treatment for jawbone cancer in 2014, John Middleton, a cigar and holding company executive, became the public face of the franchise. Middleton joined the ownership group in 1994 and eventually bought enough stock to hold a majority share.

Middleton has been assisted by two men with incredible baseball minds during his decade at the helm. His first president was Andrew MacPhail, the son of former executive and American League president Lee MacPhail and grandson of former Yankees owner and executive Larry MacPhail, both of whom were elected to the Hall of Fame. He was succeeded as president in 2020 by Dave Dombrowski who built the Marlins, Tigers and Red Sox into pennant-winning teams and did the same with the Phillies in 2022. Philadelphia was floundering under former Yankees manager Joe Girardi but caught fire under his replacement, Rob Thomson, who led them to a wild card spot and an NLCS win over San Diego before they fell in the World Series to Houston. The Phillies lost to the Diamondbacks in the 2023 NLCS and current have the best record in baseball nearly two months into this season.

The Best Catchers and Managers in Philadelphia Phillies History


Honorable Mentions – Charles “Red” Dooin played 15 seasons, 13 with Philadelphia (1902-14), using his tough, scrappy nature to overcome his short stature (5-foot-6, 165 pounds) for the position. The redhead was known for his defense and for being one of the first catchers to use shin guards, which he wore under his uniform stockings. Dooin played 1,219 games, amassing 321 runs, 922 hits, 137 doubles, 335 RBIs, 132 stolen bases and 1,147 total bases. His career as a starter came to an end in 1911 after he suffered a broken ankle and then a broken leg in back-to-back years. Dooin was named player-manager in one of the few moves ill-fated owner Horace Fogel got right in his tenure. He led the team to a 392-370 record in five seasons at the helm (1910-14) and even had the opportunity to purchase the contract of young pitcher Babe Ruth from Baltimore’s minor league team before penny-pinching owner William Baker nixed the deal. Dooin played for the Reds and Giants in his final two years and spent his post-playing days as a real estate developer and a singer in vaudeville and on the radio. He passed away in 1952 at age 71.

Virgil “Spud” Davis was originally signed by the Yankees but was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals in 1927. He was traded to the Phillies the following year and became one of the better-hitting catchers in the game, batting over .300 six times in eight seasons in Philadelphia (1928-33, 38-39). Davis was traded back to the Cardinals in 1934 and won a title as a backup that year with the “Gashouse Gang.”  After a stint with the Reds, he returned to the Phillies for parts of two seasons before finishing his career in Pittsburgh. Davis, who was given his nickname because of his love of potatoes as a youth, ranks ninth in franchise history with a .321 average. He totaled 234 runs, 790 hits, 134 doubles, 53 home runs, 363 RBIs and 1,105 total bases in 814 games. Davis retired in 1945 and spent his post-playing days as a coach and scout while owning a sheet metal business. He passed away in 1984 at age 79.

Andy Seminick, Forrest “Smoky” Burgess and Stan Lopata were all solid catchers the team used during the 1940s and ’50s. Seminick was an All-Star in 1949 but had his best season the following year for the “Whiz Kid” Phillies, setting career highs with a .288 average, 113 hits, 24 home runs and 68 runs batted in, helping his team win their first pennant in 35 years. The 1955 fielding champion played 12 seasons in Philadelphia (1943-51 and 55-57), totaling 385 runs, 716 hits, 102 doubles, 123 home runs, 411 RBIs and 1,229 total bases in 985 games. Seminick was a scout, minor league manager and major league coach for three decades after his playing days, and he was also the manager at Florida Institute of Technology. He passed away in 2004 at age 83.

Burgess was acquired in a deal also involving Seminick after the 1951 season and was a solid hitter, batting .316 over the next four years (1952-55). Despite his build, which could generously be described as “pudgy,” he won a fielding title in 1953 and earned his first All-Star selection the following year after batting .368, which would have led the league if he had enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. “Smoky” was traded back to the Reds in 1955 (with Seminick going the other way once again) and had his best days with the Pirates, earning seven All-Star selections (nine for his career). He was part of the Pittsburgh team that won the title in 1960 and finished his career with the White Sox. The pinch-hitting specialist owned a car dealership in North Carolina and held several roles in the Braves organization. He passed away in 1991 at age 64.

Lopata was mainly the backup to the other two but was the starter during Seminick’s final few years with the Phillies. Known for his crouching batting stance, he was the first catcher in the National League to wear glasses, and those adjustments helped him to earn a pair of All-Star selections. His best season was 1956, when he batted .267 and set career highs with 93 runs, 143 hits, 32 home runs and 95 runs batted in. Lopata’s numbers declined after a knee injury, and he played sparingly after a trade to the Braves, retiring after the 1960 season. After baseball, he worked for a steel plant, a concrete business and IBM as a salesman. Lopata died of a heart ailment in 2013 at age 87.

Clay Dalrymple was selected by the Phillies in the minor league draft before the 1960 season and he spent the next nine years with the franchise (1960-68). Although he set career highs with a .276 average, 11 home runs and 54 RBIs in 1962, his strength was his defense, and he led the league in assists and runners caught stealing three times. “Dimples” got most of the starts for the team during his tenure, but he was also involved in platoons throughout his time in Philadelphia. He had 674 hits, 50 home runs and 312 RBIs in 1,006 games. Dalrymple spent his last three years as a reserve with the Orioles, getting two hits in the 1969 World Series loss to the Mets. He retired after spending 1972 in the minors and spent two years as a broadcaster before going home to California and working in the food distribution industry.

If things continue as they have been, J.T. Realmuto may find himself at the top of the list one day. He joined the Phillies in a four-player trade with the Marlins before the 2019 season. Realmuto has excelled both on offense and defense, counting two All-Star selections, two gold gloves, two silver sluggers and two fielding titles on his resume. He has also been named to the All-MLB first team twice and signed the largest deal by a catcher in baseball history in 2021 (five years, $115.5 million). Realmuto has bashed at least 20 home runs in a season twice, and his best campaign was 2022, when he earned MVP consideration after batting .276 with 22 home runs and a career-best 84 runs batted in. Entering the 2024 season, he has a .267 average with 334 runs, 581 hits, 121 doubles, 95 home runs, 335 RBIs and 1,021 total bases in 600 games. Realmuto has excelled during the playoffs, totaling 18 runs, 27 hits, six home runs and 18 RBIs, including 12 in the run to the NLCS in 2023.

5. Jack Clements – He was an anomaly at the position, being the last full-time left-handed throwing catcher in the major leagues while also designing his own chest protector (first an inflatable model and then one that appeared to be similar to sheepskin). Clements was a stalwart in an era of turmoil in baseball, with several new circuits challenging the National League in the later part of the 1800s. He began in one of those leagues, the Union Association, in 1884 before being sold to the Phillies by the Philadelphia Keystones, who would fold soon after. Clements spent the next 14 years with the Nation League entry (1884-97), batting over .300 five times and leading the league in putouts by a catcher on three occasions. His best season was 1893, when he batted .285 and set or tied career highs with 64 runs, 17 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Clements finished his time in the City of Brotherly Love with a .289 average, 536 runs, 1,079 hits, 193 doubles, 53 triples, 70 homers, 636 RBIs and 1,588 RBIs in 1,000 games. He spent time with the Browns (later Cardinals), Braves (in Boston) and Cleveland Spiders, retiring in 1900. Clements played on year in the minor leagues and played for semipro clubs for a few more years before working at the sporting goods company run by Phillies owner A. J. Reach. He passed away due to a heart ailment in 1941 at age 75.

4. Mike Lieberthal – He was drafted by the Phillies with the third pick in the 1990 draft as the top ranked high school player in the nation. Lieberthal had two brief callups before making the Philadelphia roster in 1996. He was a talented backstop throughout his 13-year tenure with the Phillies (1994-2006), earning two consecutive All-Star selections and winning a gold glove and a fielding title in 1999. That season, he batted .300 and set career highs with 84 runs, 31 home runs and 96 runs batted in. However, he also suffered several serious injuries throughout his career including surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee (1996), a pelvic stress fracture (1997), ankle and shoulder surgeries (2000) and torn ACL, MCL and knee cartilage suffered diving back into first base on a pickoff attempt in 2001. Leberthal won the Comeback Player of the Year Award after posting a .279-15-52 stat line the following season and caught Kevin Millwood‘s no-hitter in 2003. He finished his Phillies tenure with a .275 average, 528 runs, 1,137 hits, 255 doubles, 150 homers, 609 RBIs and 1,862 total bases in 1,174 games, with a team-record 1,139 at the position. Despite his long and productive career, Lieberthal never appeared in the postseason, having missed the team’s run to the World Series both the year before he arrived and the year after he signed with the Dodgers as a free agent.

3. Carlos Ruiz – The Panama native converted from second base to catcher as a teenager and signed with the Phillies in 1998. He spent most of eight seasons in the minor leagues before joining Philadelphia on a full-time basis in 2007. Ruiz overcame hitting woes early in his career and spent 11 seasons with the Phillies (2006-16). He was an integral part of two pennant-winning teams, hitting home runs in both of Philadelphia’s World Series appearances in 2008-09. “Señor Octubre” earned his nickname after hitting a walk-off infield single in Game 3 against the Rays. He was solid behind the plate and was a talented game-caller who joined Boston’s Jason Varitek as the only backstops in major league history to catch four no-hitters (two by Roy Halladay in 2010, a perfect game in May and another no-no in the Division Series; a combined game in 2014 and one by Cole Hamels in 2015).

Ruiz had his best season in 2012, when he earned his only All-Star selection and set career highs with a .325 average, 16 home runs and 68 RBIs. He batted .266 with 388 runs, 898 hits, 213 doubles, 68 homers, 401 RBIs and 1,329 total bases in 1,069 games. The two-time Wilson Defensive Player Award winner added 19 runs, 36 hits, eight doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs in 46 postseason games. He was traded to the Dodgers in 2016 and spent his final season with the Mariners after a trade to Seattle. Ruiz was a fan favorite who was the heart and soul of the Philadelphia team for more than a decade, known for his hustle, preparation and work with pitchers.

2. Darren Daulton – The 25th-round pick in 1980 spent nearly a decade in the minors to get more seasoning and due to the team’s depth at the position. Daulton was known for his defense and working with pitchers early in his career but worked to improve his hitting. He had a solid year at the plate and caught a no-hitter by Terry Mulholland in 1990. After a slump the following year, “Dutch” had his best season in 1992, earning his first of three All-Star selections and his only silver slugger after batting .270 and setting career highs with 27 home runs and 109 runs batted in, which led National League.

The following year, Daulton was nearly as good, posting a .257-24-105 stat line and scoring a personal-best 90 runs. He was also one of the Phillies’ offensive stars during their run to the World Series, totaling six runs, 10 hits, two homers and seven RBIs in 12 playoff games. Although he batted .300 in 1994, knee issues began wearing Daulton down. He converted to the outfield after enduring nine knee operations and played just five games in 1996. The Phillies sent Daulton to the Marlins at the trade deadline the following year and he was an integral part of Florida’s first championship team, batting .389 with a home run in the seven-game win over Cleveland.

“Dutch” finished his Phillies career with 489 runs, 858 hits, 189 doubles, 134 home runs, 567 RBIs and 1,495 total bases in 1,109 games. He retired after the title victory and had a busy life after baseball. Daulton was arrested multiple times for driving under the influence and hosted a radio show in Philadelphia for seven years. He had surgery to remove two brain tumors in 2013 and formed a foundation with his wife to provide financial assistance for others with tumors. Daulton’s cancer returned in early 2017 and he died from the condition in August at age 55.

1. Bob Boone – This was a difficult decision for the top spot between the more offensive-minded Daulton and the defense-first Boone, who won two gold gloves in 10 years with the Phillies (1972-81) and seven overall but easily could have won more. He was consistently at the top of all the defensive categories at the position but played in the shadow of Reds star Johnny Bench, who won 10 straight gold gloves and was a dominant catcher throughout the 1970s. Boone, who was a member of a three-generation baseball family (his father, Ray, was a two-time All-Star infielder in the 1950s and his sons, Bret and Aaron, were both All-Star infielders as well). Bob was a third baseman and pitcher in college but converted to catcher after the Phillies drafted Mike Schmidt in 1971.

After a brief callup the prior season, Boone made the major league roster in 1973, finishing third in the Rookie of the Year voting after batting .261 with 10 home runs, 61 RBIs and a career-high 136 hits and leading all N. L. catchers in assists and runners caught stealing. He broke through in 1976, earning his first of three All-Star selections in a four-year span. Boone dethroned Bench and earned his gold gloves in the next two seasons while helping the Phillies reach the NLCS three straight years. Although Philadelphia missed the playoffs in 1979, he had his best offensive season, batting .284 with 11 home runs and a career-high 68 runs batted in.

Boone regressed a bit, hitting just .229 in 1980, but he was a part of a special Phillies team that earned several hard-fought victories in the postseason on the way to the first championship in franchise history. The catcher hit a two-run double of the clinching Game 5 of the NLCS against the Astros and batted .412 with four RBIs against the Royals in the World Series. Following a loss to the Expos in the following year’s Division Series, the Phillies sold the 34-year-old Boone to the Angels, thinking his best days were behind him. He proved them wrong, earning another All-Star selection and winning four gold gloves in seven seasons with California and another after he signed with Kansas City. Boone suffered a finger injury in 1990 and retired after failing to make the Mariners out of spring training the following year.

Boone finished his 19-year career with 2,225 games behind the plate, a record that stood just one year until it was passed by future Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. He batted .259 with 349 runs, 957 hits, 172 doubles, 65 home runs, 456 RBIs and 1,366 total bases in 1,125 games with Philadelphia. Boone caught in 24 playoff games, totaling five runs 19 hits and seven runs batted in. He was hired by a group trying to bring an expansion team to Orlando, but when that fell through and Miami was chosen instead, he became a minor league manager in the Athletics’ system. Boone had a pair of three-year managerial stints with Kansas City and Cincinnati, amassing a 371-444 overall record.


Honorable Mentions – Pat Moran was primarily a backup catcher throughout a 14-year playing career that included winning two titles with the Cubs late in the first decade of the 1900s. He joined the Phillies the year after he retired and transformed a sixth-place team into one that won 90 games and a National League pennant in 1915. The following two seasons were also successful, but finances got in the way and Philadelphia tumbled in the standings. Moran was fired by the Phillies and ended up with the Reds, where he led his team to 96 wins and a World Series title over the infamous “Black Sox” in 1919. He finished his tenure in Cincinnati with a pair of second place finishes, but his promising career and life was cut short due to his heavy drinking. Moran passed away from a kidney ailment known as Bright’s disease in early 1924 at age 48. He finished his four-year stint in Philadelphia (1915-18) with a 323-257 record.

Eddie Sawyer spent several seasons in the minor leagues in the Yankees system, but never reached the majors as a player. The Ithaca and Cornell graduate was teaching and coaching high school football in Binghamton when he was hired by the Phillies in 1943. Sawyer had a successful run coaching their Utica minor league team before being brought up manage in Philadelphia after Ben Chapman was fired during the 1947 season. His low-key approach worked well with the young team, which was loaded with several players he managed in the minors. The Phillies went from sixth place to third, then won the pennant for the first time in 35 years in 1950 with a 91-63 record. The “Whiz Kids” were swept by the Yankees in the World Series, but three of the losses were by a single run. The team didn’t reach those lofty heights over the next two years and Sawyer stepped down. He was an advisor until coming back to manage Philadelphia to a pair of lackluster seasons and resigned after just one game in 1960. Sawyer finished with a 390-423 record over eight seasons as manager (1948-52 and 58-60). He was a scout for the Phillies and Royals until retiring from baseball in 1974. Sawyer threw out the first pitch during the 1980 World Series between the two teams. He died in 1997 at age 87 due to respiratory problems and kidney failure.

Like Sawyer, Paul Owens never reached the major leagues as a player. Beginning in 1955, the former Army sergeant during World War II began coaching in the minors for Philadelphia and later was a scout and farm system director for the organization. Owens became general manager of the Phillies in 1972 and filled in as manager after the firing of Frank Lucchesi. He returned to the front office after the season and put together a roster that would not only win three straight division titles, but later, the franchise’s first championship in 1980 thanks to his shrewd farm system management and aggressive trades. The biggest move came the year before when the team signed future hit king Pete Rose. Three years after their first World Series run, the Phillies returned with Owens as manager who took over once again after inconsistent performance. Philadelphia went 47-30 in his stint, then beat the Dodgers in the NLCS before falling to the Orioles. Nicknamed “the Pope” due to his resemblance to Pope Paul VI, Owens managed an 81-81 record in 1984 but was removed as both manager and GM after the season, finishing with a 161-158 overall record. He served as a scout and senior advisor with Philadelphia until his death in 2003 at age 79. Owens’ name adorns the awards given annually to the Phillies’ top minor league pitcher and player.

Jim Fregosi was a six-time All-Star shortstop with the Angels and enjoyed an 18-year major league career, but he was best known as being the major player the Mets acquired in the ill-fated trade for Nola Ryan in late 1971. He retired after playing 20 games with the Pirates in 1978 and two days later, he was hired to manage the Angels at age 36. Fregosi led California to the A.L. West title the following year but had an inconsistent four-year tenure. He managed the White Sox in the late 1980s and took over the Phillies early in the 1991 season. “Skip” controlled his previously fiery temper and brought his new cast of characters into contention quickly, going from a sixth-place finish to 97 wins and a pennant in 1993. Philadelphia lost the title to Toronto and didn’t finish above .500 for the rest of the decade. Fregosi was fired following the 1996 season after posting a 431-463 record. He was an assistant general manager with the Giants before managing the Blue Jays for two years. Fregosi was a special assistant and advance scout for the Braves until he passed away in 2014 at age 71 after suffering a stroke.

Rob Thomson was drafted by Detroit in 1985 and had a brief playing career which ended at Class A. He was a minor league coach for the Tigers and Yankees and held various coaching and front office positions for New York during a tenure that lasted more than a quarter of a century. The man nicknamed “Topper” by legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre because he was always on top of everything moved on to the Phillies as a bench coach in 2018. He got his first managerial assignment after Joe Girardi, who hired him as a bench coach with the Yankees in 2008, was fired early in the 2022 season. Thomson became the first full-time Canadian manager in the big leagues in nearly 90 years and responded by leading the Philadelphia to its first playoff berth in more than a decade. The Phillies beat the Cardinals in the Wild Card Series, the Braves in the Division Series and the Padres in the NLCS to win the pennant. Although Philadelphia fell to Houston in the World Series, the team is built to compete for multiple seasons. The Phillies won 90 games in 2023 before falling to the Diamondbacks in the NLCS and Thomson enters his third campaign at the helm with a 155-118 record in the regular season and a 19-11 postseason mark.

5. Harry Wright – He was one of the game’s early pioneers and star players, as well as one of three brothers who played in the late 19th century. Born in Sheffield, England, Wright came to the United States in 1836 and converted to baseball from cricket after noticing on an adjacent field to where he was playing. He was one of the proponents of paying players and was a scout, manager and player on the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first all-professional team in the country. Wright and the team went across the nation, beating everyone they played while spreading the popularity of the game. After 81 straight victories, the Red Stockings lost a controversial 11-inning decision to the Brooklyn Atlantics. More losses followed and the team eventually broke apart, but Wright and some of the other players were key pieces in the first professional league in the U. S., the National Association.

Wright was a player-manager for the Boston Red Stockings, which finished in second place in the league’s first year of 1871 but won the pennant in each of the next four years. He played just one game in each of the first two years of the National League but let the Boston franchise to a pair of pennants in his six seasons at the helm. Wright left in 1881 to run the Providence Grays, first by creating a club of amateurs that functioned as baseball’s first “farm team” and then as manager for two seasons. He joined Philadelphia in 1884, taking the team from woeful to respectable in just one season. Wright led the Phillies to a winning record seven times in 10 years, including a second-place finish in 1887. Vision issues limited his effectiveness, and the Phillies did not renew his contract after the 1893 season, and he finished with a 636-566 record in his Philadelphia tenure. One of the most respected men of the early days of baseball and one of the game’s greatest minds died due to complications from lung surgery in 1895 at age 60. Wright was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1953.

4. Gene Mauch – He had a nine-year playing career as a reserve infielder with six teams and was also a minor league manager in the Braves and Red Sox systems before joining the Phillies in 1960 at just 34 years old. The intense Mauch brought Philadelphia from cellar-dwellers to contenders, posing winning records six times in nine seasons (1960-68) with a highwater mark of 92-70 and a second-place finish in 1964 (although the team was known for blowing a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games left in the season). The 1965 N. L. All-Star team manager led the Phillies until 1968 when he was fired while the team had a .500 record. Overall, Mauch went 646-684, and those marks, plus his 1,332 games managed were franchise records that stood for more than 40 years.

Mauch was hired as the first manager of the expansion Expos in 1969 and after a rough first year, led the team to respectable showings over their first seven seasons. During his five-year run with the Twins beginning in 1976, he led the team to a winning record three times. Arguably his best run as a manager came with the Angels, which he led for five years over two stints. California won at least 90 games three times and went to the playoffs twice, each time getting close to a World Series berth. In 1982, the Angels won the first two games of the best-of-five ALCS only to see the Brewers come back and win the series. After missing two years with health problems, Mauch returned and, in 1986, he had California on the verge of eliminating Boston in the ALCS, which was now a seven-game series. A late Dave Henderson home run tied Game 5 and the Red Sox won the game in extra innings, then took the next two games. Mauch ended his 26-year managerial career with a record of 1,902-2,037 in the regular season and 5-7 in the playoffs. He retired during spring training in 1988 due to more health issues but returned for one season as a bench coach in 1995 when Boone, his former catcher, managed the Angels. Mauch passed away from lung cancer in 2005 at age 79.

3. Danny Ozark – He was a career minor leaguer, spending 18 years in the Dodger organization (including six as a player-manager) while never getting to the big leagues. Like many young players in the early 1940s, Ozark missed three seasons while serving in World War II. He received a Purple Heart for his service, which included fighting in the famed Battle of the Bulge beginning in late 1944. Following his playing career, he became a coach in Los Angeles under Walter Alston, where he spent eight years before being named manager of the Phillies.

Ozark turned Philadelphia from a second-division club into one that earned three straight division titles from 1976-78 and won 101 games (then a club record) in each of those first two seasons. Despite Ozark winning the Manager of the Year Award, the Phillies were swept by the “Big Red Machine” the first year and lost to the Dodgers in each of the next two. Expectations were high in 1979 but injuries derailed the club and Ozark was replaced by the next manager on this list. He finished his seven-year stint in Philadelphia (1973-79) with a 594-510 record in the regular season and a 2-9 mark in the playoffs. Ozark returned to the Dodgers as a coach for three years, won his second title, then moved onto the Giants. He finished the 1984 season with a 24-32 record on an interim basis after Frank Robinson was fired. Ozark died in 2009 at age 85.

2. Dallas Green – He was a 6-foot-5, hard-throwing righty won 20 games in an eight-year career, six spent with the Phillies before he was derailed by shoulder and arm injuries. After retiring as a player, Green was a minor league manager before joining Owens as assistant farm director. When Ozark was fired, Green replaced him on an interim basis and got the team to perform well enough that he was given the full-time job. He gave the Phillies a sense of toughness and was not afraid to yell or cuss at players. The team responded with 91 wins and gritty performances against the Dodgers in the NLCS and the Royals in the World Series, giving the Phillies their first title in their nearly 100-year history.

Green led Philadelphia to the East title in the first half of the strike-shortened 1981 season but fell to the Expos in the Division Series. The Phillies also had a change in ownership and Green moved on to become the executive vice president and general manager of the Cubs after going 169-130 record in the regular season and a 9-7 mark in the playoffs. During his tenure, Chicago went to the playoffs in 1984 before falling to the Padres in the NLCS. His other major contribution was forcing the team to install lights at Wrigley Field to get the extra revenue generated by playing night games. He later managed the Yankees for less than a year and the Mets for parts of four seasons, all with little success. Green returned to the Phillies and was a special assistant to the general manager for nearly 20 years beginning in 1998. He passed away in 2017 at age 82 from kidney failure and pneumonia.

1. Charlie Manuel – His online bio lists Northfork, West Virginia, as his birthplace, but he was actually born in a car while his mother was on the road, and they took him there afterward. Manuel signed with the Twins after his father took his own life in 1963 and spent most of his six-year career as a pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder with Minnesota and Los Angeles. He was a star in Japan from 1976-81, hitting 189 total home runs and winning the 1979 MVP Award thanks to a .324-37-94 stat line. Manuel retired in 1981 and came back to the Twins as a scout and minor league manager. He moved on and became a major league hitting coach and minor league manager for the Indians, overseeing their sluggers during the late 1990s.

Manuel overcame several medical issues, including two heart attacks, a stroke, a quadruple bypass, diverticulitis and kidney cancer during his time in Cleveland and managed the team for parts of three seasons, winning 90 or more games twice. After he was fired by the Indians, he joined the Phillies as a special assistant to the general manager in 2002, and he was named manager three years later. Fans and reporters questioned his easy-going nature and Southern drawl, but he got the players to respond, especially young stars in the infield and on the mound. Manuel turned the Phillies into a high-powered offense that posted a .500 or better record for eight straight seasons. They edged the Mets for the division title on the final day of the 2007 season and had another September comeback the following year. Manuel worked through the loss of his mother and led the Phillies to 92 wins in the regular season and an 11-3 record in the playoffs in wins over the Brewers, Dodgers and Rays to win the franchise’s second championship.

Philadelphia increased their win total by one in 2009 and took out Colorado and Los Angeles before falling to the Yankees, who won their 27th championship. The Phillies won two more division titles, winning 97 games in 2010 and setting a franchise record with 102 the following year, but the season ended with a disappointing loss to the Cardinals in the Division Series. Philadelphia finished at .500 in 2012 but was dealing with injuries the following year and underperforming when Manuel was fired in August, finishing his nine-year tenure (2005-13) with 780 wins, 636 losses and 1,416 games managed, all franchise records, and totaling 1,000 career victories overall. He led the Phillies to a 27-19 mark in five playoff appearances, which included two pennants and a title. Manuel returned to the team as a senior advisor to the general manager and has been in that role ever since, except for a brief time as hitting coach in 2019.

Upcoming Stories

Philadelphia Phillies Catchers and Managers
Philadelphia Phillies First and Third Basemen – coming soon
Philadelphia Phillies Second Basemen and Shortstops – coming soon
Philadelphia Phillies Outfielders – coming soon
Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers – coming soon

Previous Series

A look back at the Oakland Athletics

Oakland Athletics Catchers and Managers
Oakland Athletics First and Third Basemen
Oakland Athletics Second Basemen and Shortstops
Oakland Athletics Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Oakland Athletics Pitchers

A look back at the New York Yankees

New York Yankees Catchers and Managers
New York Yankees First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
New York Yankees Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Yankees Outfielders
New York Yankees Pitchers

A look back at the New York Mets

New York Mets Catchers and Managers
New York Mets First and Third Basemen
New York Mets Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Mets Outfielders
New York Mets Pitchers

A look back at the Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Catchers and Managers
Minnesota Twins First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Minnesota Twins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Minnesota Twins Outfielders
Minnesota Twins Pitchers

A look back at the Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Milwaukee Brewers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielders
Milwaukee Brewers Pitchers

A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

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