Friday, March 13, 2009

Phillies & Tigers Have Quite An Inter-personnel History

The Philadelphia Phillies are, for the first time since 1981 and for only the second time in their 127-year history, heading into a season as defending world champions.

That, plus a recent piece I wrote about the '84 Tigers and the famous trade made with the Phillies in spring training that brought Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman to Detroit, caused me to think of other Tigers who became Phillies, or vice-versa.

Phillies who became Tigers

Tony Taylor was a solid-fielding, solid-hitting second baseman who actually stuck around long enough to amass over 2,000 hits in his career. He was mostly a Phillie, but became a Tiger in 1971 when GM Jim Campbell began providing manager Billy Martin with aging veterans to patch holes in an organization that was becoming frightfully bereft of young talent.

Taylor gave the Tigers some decent part-time play, batting .287 from June-October in 1971, and .303 in '72 when the team won the AL East title. He slumped to .229 in 1973, and was released that winter. Think a poor man's Placido Polanco: a right-handed contact hitter who rarely struck out. And a glove that was above average. Taylor only made 13 errors in the three seasons that he was a Tiger.

Speaking of '72, Campbell once again turned to the Phillies for veteran help.

He picked up lefty Woodie Fryman, who was wallowing with a very bad Phillies team when Campbell acquired him off the waiver wire on August 2nd.

Fryman, a noted tobacco farmer from Kentucky, did even better than Tony Taylor in the "aging veteran contributes" department. He simply went 10-3 down the stretch with a 2.06 ERA, including pitching the division-clinching game against the Red Sox at Tiger Stadium. He faltered in '73 and '74, however, and the Tigers traded Fryman to Montreal. But Fryman wasn't close to being done as a big leaguer; he played until 1983 at age 43.

I used Placido Polanco in reference to Tony Taylor, so here's Polanco, period.

The Tigers raised some eyebrows in the summer of 2005 when they traded relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina to Philly for second baseman Polanco, who was being nudged out because the organization wanted to make room for Chase Utley. Trading pitching for non-pitching was deemed unwise, and not many people in Detroit had even heard of Placido Polanco.

That skepticism didn't last too long.

Urbina flamed out, and before long was in prison, under suspicion of murder south of the border. Polanco was a key cog in the Tigers' rise to the World Series in 2006, and is still a front-line player.

Tigers who became Phillies

Glenn Wilson, for whatever reason, didn't get along with Sparky Anderson. And that meant that he wouldn't last long in Detroit; few players did, who didn't see eye-to-eye with the Tigers' skipper.

Wilson was a talented, right-handed hitting corner outfielder who had average power but who hit for good average and drove in runs. Yet he found himself in Sparky's doghouse, and from there you rarely emerged. So Wilson was packaged with OF/C/DH/1B Johnny Wockenfuss in the Hernandez and Bergman trade of '84. In 1985, Wilson had 102 RBI on just 14 HRs with the Phillies, hitting a solid .275. He finished with the Pirates and the Astros, never putting up eye-popping numbers, but functioning as a capable big leaguer.

Wockenfuss was a fan favorite in Detroit and was truly sorry to leave the Tigers. He hit .289 in just 180 AB for the Phillies in 1984, then retired in '85 after just 37 AB, at age 36.

Lance Parrish knew almost as soon as he signed his free agent contract with the Phillies that he had made a mistake.

Parrish as a Phillie; doesn't look right, does it?

Parrish left the Tigers after the 1986 season and signed with Philadelphia, a city whose fans are not known for their patience or compassion. It was odd, seeing Parrish in the Phillies pinstripes. And he was never comfortable. He got off to a miserable start and the booing soon began. His BA was still below .200 in late-May. 1988 wasn't any better and then Parrish became a journeyman the rest of his career, save a decent season or two with the Angels. In 1994, Parrish asked the Tigers for a tryout. They politely declined.

So those are the highest-profile Tigers/Phillies over the past 40 years. Let me know if I missed anyone!


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