Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On this day... The Pope takes over

July, 18th 1983. Sporting a "win now" roster stocked four future Hall of Famers AND the future all-time hits leader... the first-place Phillies, with an unimpressive 43-42 first place record, fire manager Pat Corrales. He is replaced by long time Phils General Manager, Paul "The Pope" Owens.

This was the second run for Owens in the dugout as the Phillies manager. In 1972, he replaced manager Frank Lucchesi for the final 80 games of the season. At that time, Owens wanted to get a closer look at the young (and last-place) Phillies roster.

The 1972 experience helped him shape the franchise that eventually won 3 straight NL East flags and the 1980 World Series. His farm system, one of the most productive in the game at the time, developed stars Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Bob Boone, and Larry Bowa. In addition, Owens aggressively swung trades to add pieces such as relief pitcher Tug McGraw and outfielders Garry Maddox and Bake McBride. He also managed to sign Pete Rose as a free agent before the 1979 season.

Under "Pope's" direct leadership, the '1983 Wheeze Kids' go 47-30 and deliver an unexpected National League pennant. The four game NLCS victory over Dodgers help erase the painful memories of the 1977 & 1978 NLCS defeats. They would eventually fall in the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles in five games.

Owens stayed in the dugout for the 1984 season. The roster from the previous season was dismantled and the Phillies delivered a 81-81 4th place season. The club finished 15½ games behind the division champion Chicago Cubs.

In the end, Owens spent 48 years in the Phillies organization as a scout, farm director, general manager, manager and senior advisor. In 1986, the franchise established the annual Paul Owens Award for the top players in their minor-league system. He died in 2003 at age 79.


Jim from Downingtown said...

Ruben Amaro should take a lesson from this.

Post a Comment