The Phillies will pay tribute to the 1990s tonight at Citizens Bank Park, complete with the old maroon pinstripes and hats with that lovable baseball “P.” For a franchise that has so many bad baseball seasons, the 1990s certainly had its fair share of forgettable seasons. But that does not mean the 1990s were completely worth forgetting. After all, there were some key moments in Phillies history to take place during the decade.
The 1990s was the decade the franchise decided to return to their traditional look after decades in maroon pinstripes. It was the decade that saw a strike nearly kill the sport. It was a decade full of losses but plenty of happy moments to ensure that a generation of new baseball fans would have something to look back on fondly.
Here are ten worth remembering for happy and sad times, in no particular order.
1. Curt Schilling strikes out 319
Before Curt Schilling went on to win a couple of World Series rings with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, he started to become an elite pitcher while in Philadelphia. He opened the eyes of the baseball world in 1993 with his performance on the mound and for his towel in the face moments in the postseason, but his 1997 season remains one of the best in franchise history. His 319 strikeouts remains a franchise record for right-handed pitchers and it was not a fluke. The following season Schilling became the fifth major league pitcher to strike out 300+ batters in consecutive seasons.
2. Richie Ashburn dies
In early September 1997 the Phillies family lost one of the true faces of the organization when Richie Ashburn passed away soon after broadcasting a game in New York. Much like his longtime partner Harry Kalas, it seemed as though he died while doing what he loved to do, which was watching and talking about the Phillies. Ashburn of course was a former Phillies, and we’ll touch more on that aspect in a moment, and his broadcasting commentary had become so familiar to fans watching on television and listening on the radio. Also like Kalas, there simply was no replacing Ashburn.
3. Steve Carlton inducted to Hall of Fame
The greatest Phillies pitcher of all-time, Steve Carlton, was inducted in to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 1994. The crowd was flooded with Phillies fans, but it would be more dominant the following summer…
4. Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn inducted to Hall of Fame
Two of the greatest players in franchise history were inducted before a record crowd to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Ashburn’s long wait to be enshrined to the hall was well-deserved, and he even joked during his speech “What took so long?” as he knew he should have been inducted a long time ago. But it was extra special fr him because he got to be inducted with the greatest Phillie of all time, and a player he said he had the privilege of watching every single game of his career, Mike Schmidt. The sea of red in Cooperstown was an incredible scene to witness two stars of different generations be immortalized among baseball ryalty in 1995.
5. Terry Mulholland no-hitter
On the field there were not many historic achievements for the Phillies in the 1990s, but two stand out before the team changed uniforms to the ones they were today. The first was Terry Mulholland’s no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants in August 1990. I would have been at this game but my family was leaving for Disney World the next morning and my dad decided not to take me down to the Vet that night. He regrets it to this day. It was the first home no-hitter by a Phillies pitcher in franchise history.
6. Tommy Green no-hitter
The Phillies did not have to wait long for the next franchise no-hitter. Tommy Green threw one the following May in Montreal in a 2-0 victory. It was the last no-hitter of the decade and the next to last in Veterans Stadium.
7. Mickey Morandini’s unassisted triple-play
In September 1992 second baseman Mickey Morandini pulled off the ninth unassisted triple play in baseball history when he snatched a line drive from Pittsburgh’s Jeff King for one out, touched second base for a second out and tagged a runner coming in from first base for a third out as casual as you could imagine. The Pirates would go on to represent the National League East in the postseason, but their time at the top was coming to an end…
Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play against the New York Mets in 2009 is the most recent unassisted triple play on record, with five unassisted triple plays coming in between his and Morandini’s.
Historical note: The Phillies also hit in to an unassisted triple play in 1923, with Boston Braves shortstop Ernie Padgett pulling off the feat. It was the second time that season the play occurred in baseball, less than a month after the most recent play.
8. Ricky Bottallico’s scoreless All-Star inning
The Phillies hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 1996 at Veterans Stadium. Of course, the Phillies were abysmal at the time and were represented by the league mandated member so they could be represented. But Bottalico did his job with a scoreless fifth inning. The Phillies have not hosted the game since, but it should only be a matter of time before Citizens Bank Park gets a chance to host the midsummer classic.
9. John Kruk’s return
After being diagnosed with testicular cancer following the 1993 season there was some doubt over when, or if, John Kruk would play baseball again. His radiation treatments had taken a toll on his endurance but he was determined to play baseball again, and his return to the Phillies lineup was celebrated by fans, deservedly so. Kruk had three hits in his first game back for the Phillies home opener. Despite losing the game, Kruk gave everyone a happy memory to start the season.
10. 1993 Phillies
You knew this was coming. How could it not? After all, this is the team that inspired the name of this very site. The list of memorable moments includes some familiar scenes, and I know right now I will leave some off (feel free to add in the comments section).
Mitch Williams sending every home after a very, very long night.
The way they battled back in just about any game they were down.
Wild rallies against the Giants and Cardinals.
Milt Thompson robbing home runs.
Stopping the chop.
Lenny Dykstra’s MVP-caliber season and postseason power.
Schilling’s “Not on my watch” Game Five performance in the World Series.
And of course, the way it all ended.
Sure, that team was a flash in the pan with just about everybody putting together career years at the right time. And heck, perhaps they had a little extra something in some of them (we’ll leave it at that), but this is the team that captured the hearts of a generation of fans. Before the 1993 Phillies baseball was somewhat non existent for many, and some of the earliest Phillies memories that a number of fans have stem from this very team.
They may not be ful of class and they may have had some bad dudes on the team, but if it were not for them this site may not exist.
Two of those players, Darren Daulton and Kruk, have been added to the Phillies Wall of Fame, and in time there should be more added.
HT: Phillies.com for 1990s highlights and moments
What are your favorite 1990s Phillies memories? Share your best memories in the comment section below.