This year, despite being in last place, the Phillies sent three players to Kansas City for the 2012 All-Star Game, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz.
Two of these players are bona fide stars and have made multiple appearances at the Midsummer Classic.
Chooch, on the other hand, is a different story.
The man is having a career year, one of the greatest offensive seasons a Phillies catcher has ever had. He’s never come close to sniffing an All-Star squad before yet, here he is, in all his Choochie wonder.
But it makes you wonder. Will Ruiz ever make another All-Star team? Or is this a one-hit wonder-type-of season? Will we look back at the list of Phillies All-Stars from 2012 and say to ourselves, “Did Chooch really make an All-Star team?
Because as you go down the list of past Phils All-Stars, there are some eye-opening names. The main reason for that is because for years, the Phillies were allowed to have a player represented at the All-Star Game only because the league mandated that at least one player from every team physically be present for both the introductions and the actual baseball game.
It’s a rule I’ve always liked, mainly because when I started to watch baseball in the mid-80s, the Phillies were pretty bad. And if there weren’t any Phillies players in the game, I probably wouldn’t have watched.
In addition to the little league “everybody gets a trophy” rule, there were some instances where a random Phils player had a tremendous first half, only to fall completely off the radar. Or, there was a random career year thrown in there.
Let’s call them “Choochers.”
Long story short, the Phillies, like most teams, have had their fair share of “Choochers” over the years, names that you probably wouldn’t believe made an All-Star squad as a Phillie.
With that, let’s take a look at 10 of the weirdest and most obscure players to play in the Midsummer Classic as a Phillie. Why? Because there’s nothing else to do on the day after the All-Star Game, that’s why.
2006 – Tom Gordon (3-4, 3.34 ERA, 34 saves)
Gordon had a solid Major League career as a closer, and for one season as the Phils’ stopper, did a pretty good job. The three-time All-Star blew his arm out the following season, however, which led to Brett Myers becoming the closer in 2007. Gordon remained with the club in 2008 as a set-up man until injuries once again forced him to miss the end of the season. He did, however, earn himself a world championship ring.
2002 – Vicente Padilla (14-11, 3.28 ERA)
Heading into the game, Padilla was 10-5 with a 3.05 ERA, then went 4-6, with a 3.60 ERA after the All-Star break. It was the only All-Star Game in which Padilla ever played, and frankly, I had completely forgotten he made that one. Amazingly, he’s actually still pitching as a reliever for the Boston Red Sox. He simply won’t go away, and in fact, made headlines this week by calling Yankees star Mark Teixeira a woman. The Padilla Flotilla lives on, if only in our minds.
1999 – Paul Byrd (15-11, 4.60 ERA)
Amazingly, Byrd was not chosen accidentally. And he was not a player who was selected because someone from the Phillies had to be represented. In fact, Byrd was one of three Phils sent to the ’99 All-Star Game that year, along with Curt Schilling and Mike Lieberthal. That means somebody important sat down at a desk and said “We have to have Paul Byrd on the National League team this year.” He came into the All-Star break with an 11-4 record and a 3.72 ERA. The second half was not as kind, with Byrd going 4-7 with a 5.81 ERA after the break. That’s what we like to call “reverting to the norm.”
1996 – Ricky Bottalico (4-5, 3.19 ERA, 34 saves)
This may have been one of the most depressing All-Star Games ever played for Phillies fans. First of all, the game, for reasons passing understanding, was played at Veterans Stadium. I swear Bill Giles had some pictures of someone in a position of power in order to wrangle the game that year. The Phils were so bad in ’96 that Botallico was the only player from the Phillies selected to play in his home stadium. In other words, there was no real reason to watch that game, or Botallico.
1995 – Tyler Green (8-9, 5.31 ERA)
Green, the Phils #1 pick from the 1991 Draft (10th overall selection), was a star at Wichita State University and moved rapidly up the Phils’ minor league system, making his debut in ’93 and becoming a full-time starter in ’95. At the All-Star break, Green was having a standout season, going 8-4 with a 2.81 ERA. Unfortunately, the league eventually caught up to Green, and pretty quickly too. He went 0-5 in the second half with a 10.68 ERA. Green then blew out his arm and missed the entire ’96 season, only playing parts of the ’97 and ’98 seasons before eventually retiring from baseball.
1995 – Heathcliff Slocumb (5-6, 2.89 ERA, 32 saves)
Slocumb is yet another Phillies reliever who had one great year with the Phils, then either disappeared off the face of the earth or moved on to greener pastures. Slocumb was very good in ’95, recording a career high in saves before moving on to Boston the following year. One other oddity that season, the Phils sent FIVE players to the ’95 All-Star Game (Tyler Green, Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, and Mickey Morandini), even though they finished 69-75, 21 games behind the Braves in the NL East.
1994 – Doug Jones (2-4, 2.17 ERA, 27 saves)
Yet ANOTHER Phillies closer sent to the Midsummer Classic, Jones was a five-time All-Star and pitched 16 years in the Major Leagues. The only reason he’s on this list is because I completely forgot he ever pitched for the Phillies. I think Major League Baseball mandated that a Phils closer had to be selected to the All-Star Game or else the Philie Phanatic would lose his little car or something.
1988 – Lance Parrish (.215/.293/.370, 15 HRs 60 RBIs)
How bad were the catchers in the National League in 1988 that Parrish was actually selected to be on this roster? I mean, LOOK at that batting average and on-base percentage. In his two years with the Phils, Parrish was horrifically terrible, yet somehow he made it onto the ’88 squad. Of all the players on this list, Parrish was the least deserving Phillie to ever be selected to an All-Star team.
1973 – Wayne Twitchell (13-9, 2.50 ERA, 10 CGs, 5 shutouts)
If there was anyone who defined a true “Choocher,” it was Twitchell, who had a career year for himself in ’73. He played 10 years in the Majors, and 1973 was the only year in which he reached double figures in wins or posted an ERA under three as a starter. This was near the end of some of the worst baseball in Phillies history, with Schmidt, Carlton and the rest of the Golden Era crew about to take over. Twitchell did not survive the coming tidal wave of talent.
1970 – Joe Hoerner (9-5, 2.65 ERA, 9 saves)
This was an era where relief pitchers didn’t have roles as clearly defined as they do today. Hoerner had a few more very good seasons for the Phils as a reliever, as well as with other teams, but is a name that I doubt any Phils fan would be able to remember, even with a compass and a media guide in their hands.
I’m sure there are more Phils that couple populate this list, especially in All-Star Games played before 1970. However, the game was so much different then, and the All-Star selection process was much different, so it’s really comparing apples and oranges. Plus, I’m lazy and done doing research.