As you’ve probably heard by now, the Pittsburgh Pirates have snagged Nick Leyva from our history and made him become their third base coach, once more fueling the furious cross-state rivalry that has never existed in the current era.
With that pesky playing career out of the way, Nick began managing at age 24. Which is probably not at all demoralizing for anyone who is currently 24 and not managing even a semi-pro baseball team.
He was at the head of the Johnson City Cardinals, which does not make anyone laugh because they’re reminded of a city made out of penises. Eventually, he cracked the major league level and was on the coaching staff of the NL-champion Cardinals in 1985 and 1987. His Phillies lore was yet to begin.
Lee Thomas (Haha remember Lee Thomas? I say “haha” because my first thought of him is when Curt Schilling and Mitch Williams pied him with paper plates covered in shaving cream for some reason, and as Lee stood there in front of a camera, humiliated, as photographers snapped away, at what must have been the worst moment of his life, Wild Thing stood on the dug out steps chuckling and shouted, “Hey, Lee! You need a razor?!“) was the Phillies GM, and he liked what he saw in Leyva. Also, they used to work together. Somebody just told me that’s the first step to getting any job. So go ahead and light your resume on fire, recent-grads, because you’re not going anywhere until you tunnel up some ass.
Nick’s saga begins in 1989, when he watched in horror as the Phillies lost 95 games in a row. Or, just spread out throughout the entire season. I should confirm one of those. Anyways, they lost 95 times, which, in 162 game schedule, is pretty bad no matter how they’re split up.
Dutch Daulton hit .201. Von Hayes struck out 103 times. They once went once lost 15 of 18, and one of the “not losses” ended in a tie, somehow. It was so bad Mike Schmidt fled into retirement and wrapped himself in it like a soothing, warm blanket.
Clearly, Nick had some work to do. When the 1990 season started, Britain had just started a three-week prison riot. The Phillies were not going to fare much better.
I mean, compared to 1989, they would. But that’s like comparing a baseball season to a prison riot. Oh.
Anyways, a 77-85 year was enough to instill hope. With Leyva watching from the dugout, Darren Daulton ran out from behind home plate to punch Dwight Gooden in the back of the head, several times, as Gooden assaulted Phils pitcher Pat Combs. The Mets were clearly reacting immaturely to the fact that their front office had absolutely railed them the previous year, in which the Phillies traded a collapsing Juan Samuel for Lenny Dykstra and Roger MacDowell, who even I at three years old could point out were far superior players.
Darryl Strawberry attempted to murder Daulton, but int he end could do little more than narrowly avoid getting pulverized by Von Hayes, who was riding high on the adrenalin that only striking out 81 times can summon.
The point is, Nick Leyva, who this article is about, remember, saw his Phillies use brute force and a comically awful 11-19 August to finish in 4th place.
Still, they entered the next season with– Nick Leyva was fired.
Yes, Leyva lost seven of his last eight games as the Phillies skipper, seeing only 13 of the 1991 season altogether. Jim Fregosi stepped in, and glorious things were on the way, but Leyva would no longer be a part of them.