In the last two weeks, I’ve encountered three Phillies from the past: Dickie Noles, Dallas Green and Dick Allen, and had three different experiences. THIS SONG kept playing in my head. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and it certainly is applicable to what I experienced with these players.
Noles was a relief pitcher with the Phillies, Cubs, Rangers, Indians, Tigers and Orioles. Noles is one of only four players in baseball history who was actually traded for himself.
In 1987, Noles was dealt from the Cubs to the Tigers for a “player to be named later.” 33 days later, the teams were unable to reach an agreement, and he was returned to the Cubs, thus completing the “trade for himself.”
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Noles is now an Employee Assistance Professional and pitching coach. He spends a good portion of the year in Clearwater working with the young players, and over the years I’ve gotten to know him to the point that when he saw me last week he called out, “Good morning, Sunshine.” He has a stellar reputation among the younger players, many of whom refer to him as “my brother.”
Green was friendly and gracious in signing his book.
Green is now a member of the Phillies front office, but is most recognized as the manager of the 1980 World Series-winning team, the first team in franchise history to win it all. He’s often around the Carpenter Complex, and he too often says hello to me in passing. He recently had a book signing of his book, “The Mouth That Roared-My Six Outspoken Decades in Baseball.”
I purchased a copy of the book, and when I got to the table to have it signed, recounted to Green that as a young child I was *cough, cough* “sick” on the day of the World Series parade so that I could stay home and watch it on television. I asked him to “not tell my mother I faked illness to see the parade” and he had a hearty laugh..
He even left a nice inscription in my book.
Both of those are memorable encounters with Phillies legends of the past that I will always cherish. One of these days I’ll ask Dickie Noles for a picture and I know based on his personality, he will take the time.
Over the years, I have had many encounters with similar Phils greats, and have always come away feeling like they valued me as a fan. But one incident that happened just last week really left me feeling badly.
Allen was a 7x All-Star, the 1972 AL MVP, 2x AL Home Run champion, and the AL RBI leader in 1972. I truly appreciate his contribution to the game, and when I saw him exit the office building at the Carpenter Complex at the end of the day of practice, I realized that the previous day had been his birthday. So I took a minute to wish him, “Happy Birthday.”
He stopped and laughed before thanking me for remembering. He was laughing and made a little small talk. There were very few people left at this point of the day, mostly just players leaving. I worked up my courage, and politely asked if we could have a picture taken together.
What happened next left me gobsmacked.
Allen’s personality on this day left something to be desired.
“NO! You’ll just sell it. Here, take my card you can see all the pictures you want of me on my website.”
Allen shoved the business card into my hand and walked away.
I was flabbergasted. First, why would I sell a picture that had both of us in it? Who would want to buy a picture with me in it? Second, I would have been happy if he had said, “I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood,” or “Not today, thanks.” Instead he accused me of wanting to take a picture to sell?
It left me feeling like I’d been kicked like an unwanted puppy. I truly understand that it may get tiring, always being asked to have your picture taken. But come on, did he have to accuse me of wanting to sell the picture?
It’s really hard to take when you find out that one of the people you’ve long respected turns out to be, frankly, not worthy of your respect. It left me feeling “Where is the Love?”