Baseball Lifer Dallas Green, First Phillies Manager to Win a World Series, Dies at 82

by Rocco Constantino | Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
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The 1980 World Series matched the Philadelphia Phillies against the Kansas City Royals, with the Phillies winning in six games to capture the first of two World Series titles in franchise history to date. The series concluded after Game 6, which ended with <a rel=

Dallas Green, the old-school, gruff baseball lifer who spent over four decades in the game, died Wednesday at the age of 82.  Green had an impact as a player, manager and front office executive and is best remembered as the manager who led the Philadelphia Phillies to the first World Series title in franchise history in 1980.

Green was signed by an amateur free agent by the Phillies in 1955 and made his debut five years later in a start against Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants.  Green played four years for the Phillies, going 20-22 working mostly as a reliever and spot starter.  Green played three more seasons in the majors, pitching in 18 total games without registering a win or loss.

Although his playing career was nondescript, Green was involved with one of the game’s quirkier moments.  On June 23, 1963, he gave up Jimmy Piersall’s 100th career home run.  Piersall then proceeded to run the bases backward, drawing the ire of Commissioner Ford Frick and New York Mets manager Casey Stengel, who released Piersall two days later.

After his playing career ended, Green worked in the Phillies front office, eventually becoming the team’s manager in 1979.  Green replaced the popular Danny Ozark with 30 games remaining in a disappointing 1979 season.  According to Larry Bowa at the time of Ozark’s firing, “there were a lot of tears in the clubhouse,” but Green led the fifth-place Phillies to a 19-11 record to end the season.  The next year, Green led the Phillies to their first World Series title in franchise history over the Kansas City Royals.

The 1980 season was not without controversy, though.  Green famously battled with stars like Greg Luzinski, Larry Bowa and Bob Boone and even had a physical confrontation with pitcher Ron Reed.

“We hated him,” catcher Bob Boone said in an interview in 2000. “He was driving us. I don’t know if it was a unique approach, but it was a relationship that worked. I don’t know if hate is the right word, but that’s irrelevant because it worked.”

Tug McGraw, who was on the mound for the final out of that World Series, summed up the year in the aftermath of the championship.  “It took us a few months under Dallas Green to catch on to what he was saying, but then we got the program together. To me, Dallas is one helluva man.”

Gary Maddox’s sentiments in a 1993 New York Times article echoed those sentiments.

“We won our division in 1976, ’77 and ’78,” said Maddox, “then we had some injuries in 1979 and Danny Ozark was fired. So Dallas came down from the front office to light a fire under us, to take us to the next level. We had the knock of not being able to get to that next level.  He came in screaming,” Maddox remembered. “It was different for me. I felt I gave 100 percent at all times and didn’t need that.”

“Dallas and I had confrontations all the time,” said Maddox.

Maddox mentioned that years later, he changed his position on Green.  “I started to hear Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, a lot of guys start to say what a good manager Dallas Green was,” said Maddox. “And it was then that I went back and reviewed our relationship.”

Maddox and Bowa both admitted that years after they were done playing for Green, they sought him out and buried the hatchet with him.

Upon learning of his death, Rose said, “We wouldn’t have won the ’80 World Series if we didn’t have Dallas Green managing. He was the right manager at the right time for that team.  He was a no-nonsense, bust-your-ass manager, but he had everybody’s respect. He made it fun to come to the ballpark. When you have star players respecting the manager, you know you have the right guy.”

After the 1981 season, the Chicago Cubs hired Green away from the Phillies and made him their general manager.  Right away, Green hired some of his most trusted men from the Phillies to join him in Chicago, including manager Lee Elia and made trades for Phillies players Keith Moreland, Dickie Noles and Larry Bowa.  Green also had a firm knowledge of the Phillies minor league system and had them include Ryne Sandberg in the Bowa trade.  Green helped lead a short revival of the Cubs, helping them to a surprise appearance in the 1984 World Series.

While the success was short-lived, Green helped build a farm system that would help revitalize the franchise towards the end of the decade.  He helped stock the system with youngsters like Shawon Dunston, Mark Grace, Rafael Palmeiro, Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer before departing.

Green returned to the field in 1989 when he was hired by George Steinbrenner to replace Lou Piniella.  Again, Green’s no-nonsense personality was the chief reason he was brought in.

”I’m sick of watching superior Yankee teams throw away pennants because they lack discipline,” Steinbrenner aid. ”Dallas is tough. He’s outspoken. He won’t back away from anyone, including me. Last year, it was a mistake to put Lou Piniella on the spot. He wasn’t ready for the job, and the team got out of hand.”

Green took over a team laden with stars like Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson and, as expected, he pushed them right from the start.

In his only spring training with the team, Green said, “I want to see 90-foot ballplayers,” he continues, meaning he expects his players to run the length of the basepaths full tilt. ”If a man won’t hustle 100 percent, he doesn’t play, and I don’t care if his name is Winfield, Mattingly or Henderson.”

Just 120 games into his first season with the Yankees and with the team underachieving, Steinbrenner wanted to shake up a coaching staff that included Elia, Pat Corrales, Charlie Fox and Frank Howard.  Instead, Green stood up for his coaches and was fired himself.

The Yankees hired Bucky Dent to replace Green, the 17th manager at the time under Steinbrenner.  Green had the type of response you’d expect.

“Anyone can manage the New York Yankees — but for how long?’ Green said. ‘Bucky will be fired. Book it. It’s just a matter of where and when.”

Green had one more stint as a manager, this time a four-year stint with the New York Mets.  Green was working as a scout in the Mets system at the time and replaced Jeff Torborg, who was in the midsts of skippering the team through their doldrums in the early 1990s.  Green lasted the longest with the Mets, but led them to four losing seasons, finishing with a record of 229-283 in those four seasons.

With just 31 games remaining in the season, Green lashed out in the media about Paul Wilson and Jason Isringhausen, both 23 years old and struggling in their first full seasons in the Mets starting rotation.  Green didn’t want them in the rotation, but the Mets were eager to replicate their success from a decade before when young stars Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez led a Mets revival.

Green said, “These guys really don’t belong in the big leagues,” also including the injured Bill Pulsipher in the group. “It sounds very harsh and very negative, but what have they done to get here?”

That was the final straw for general manager Joe McIllvane, who hired Bobby Valentine who ultimately led the Mets to success at the turn of the century.

Green returned to the Phillies front office in a lesser capacity as a senior advisor.

Green died Wednesday afternoon in a Philadelphia hospital where he had been receiving dialysis treatments due to an illness.

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Rocco Constantino
About the Author

Rocco is the author of 50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball (Available on Amazon now!) and former Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He is also a die hard Mets fan going back to the awful early 80's and ready for the revival. D2 NCAA softball coach and athletics administrator. Follow Rocco on Twitter @mlb100years.

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