Billy DeMars, 1948 Athletic and 1980 Phillies champ, dies

Manager Pete Rose and coach Billy DeMars of the Cincinnati Reds in 1987 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Manager Pete Rose and coach Billy DeMars of the Cincinnati Reds in 1987 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies coach Billy DeMars, a member of the 1980 World Series championship team, has passed away at 95.

The oldest living Philadelphia Phillies alumnus, Billy DeMars — a member of their coaching staff across the 1969-81 seasons, and specifically the hitting coach on the 1980 World Series championship team — passed away at the age of 95 Thursday morning at his home in Clearwater, Florida.

Fellow 1980 champion Larry Bowa, the team’s starting shortstop, first shared the news on social media. “This is one of my toughest days yet. We lost another Phillies family member, Billy DeMars,” Bowa said. “Besides my dad, he was the most influential coach in my baseball career.”

“Without Billy’s help, I don’t think I would have made it to the big leagues,” Bowa continued. “Rest easy my friend.”

DeMars’ passing comes just days after the passings of Denis Menke — fellow former Phillies hitting coach and 1993 National League champion — as well as the legendary Dick Allen.

Bob Miller, the second-to-last living 1950 Phillies Whiz Kid, also recently passed at the age of 94.

DeMars played three seasons in the majors for the Philadelphia Athletics (1948) and St. Louis Browns (1950-51). A native of Brooklyn, New York, DeMarks fielded second base, third base, and shortstop in his career, and slashed a combined .237/.326/.270 with 50 hits, 14 RBI, 28 walks, and just 16 strikeouts spanning 80 games and 244 plate appearances.

While DeMars’ playing career was short-lived, he went on to have a 19-year coaching career in Major League Baseball — 13 of which with the Phillies, starting in 1969 after spending more than a decade as a Baltimore Orioles minor-league manager.

DeMars was also on the Phillies coaching staff during the 1976, 1977, and 1978 National League East division title seasons. He mentored several Phillies legendary hitters, including Bowa, Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose.

After the 1981 season — the last of four under manager Dallas Green — DeMars went on to join the coaching staffs of the Montreal Expos (1982-84) and Cincinnati Reds (1985-87). Coincidentally, he was on the latter staff under player-manager Rose, just a half-decade after being on the 1980 championship team.

“Following his retirement from full-time coaching, he frequently visited the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., to continue his tutelage of young Phillies hitters,” the team said in a statement. “Mr. DeMars’ passion for baseball – and, in particular, the art of hitting – was very evident to those who knew him. The Phillies organization sends its condolences to the entire DeMars family.”

Left-handed pitcher Bobby Shantz (95) and infielder Bobby Morgan (94) are now the oldest-living Phillies alumni.

Rest in peace, Billy.

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