Nine Phillies 2008 World Series champions hold Zoom reunion
More than 11 years have passed since the Philadelphia Phillies won their second-ever World Series championship in franchise history. Nine members from the championship team recently reunited, virtually through Zoom, and discussed their favorite stories, memories and moments from the magical season.
Among the topics discussed included reminiscing on the skipper who would go on to become the franchise’s all-time winningest manager, Charlie Manuel, who was on the call along with Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Mick Billmeyer, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Scott Eyre, and Shane Victorino.
“Pat the Bat” had been drafted first overall in the 1998 draft out of the University of Miami; he quickly rose through the system before debuting at age 23 on May 24, 2000. He finished so strong over his first three seasons, slugging 95 doubles, 82 home runs and 284 RBI spanning 423 games, and even had a top-four Rookie of the Year and top-14 MVP finish along the way.
Then came Thome in 2003, who took some of the “slugging” spotlight away from the Arkansas native. Burrell said he met Manuel early on, around this time when Thome came over, and remembers one conversation the two had, in particular, that is “pretty relevant” to the Zoom call group.
“It was early on and we were starting to get things rolling. We had a pretty good team,” Burrell said. “We needed some pieces and he came up to me one day late in the year and he said, ‘Hey, just so you know, you’re going to be sliding down a spot next year.'”
In 2004, even with Thome on board, Burrell still logged more than 100 plate appearances in the cleanup batting order position. Howard was showing promising signs down in the minors, and Manuel wanted to give Burrell advanced notice that things might look different the following season.
Burrell continued: “I said, ‘Charlie, I’m having my best year!’ He said, ‘Yea, but Howard is coming. He’s hitting fourth.’ I said, ‘He’s in Double-A. How are you going to tell me this guy’s in Double-A and he’s going to hit fourth for us?’ He goes, ‘He’s going to hit 50 homers!’ Sure enough, he did.”
“That’s the first I’m hearing that story,” Howard said.