Bill Conlin writes about Dallas Green in this article. Even though Green won a world title in 1980, he got barely a ripple of support for Manager of the Year award. Conlin gives Green a lot of credit for taking a team that was talented but unmotivated and getting them united- even if it was againstt he manager- to achieve the goal of winning the World Series.
|From the October 23, 1980
edition of The Philadelphia Daily News:
How the Loud Guy Finally Won
By Bill Conlin
All winter they told Dallas Green how badly they wanted to win.
They told him in the weight room at the Vet, where the manager joined players living in the area for off-season workouts.
They told him during the Phillies Caravan how much they wanted to atone for the playoff failures of 1976, ’77 and ’78, for the collapse of ’79 which had brought Green down among them.
Green filed it all away. He would see in due time whether they were more interested in batting practice or making a four no-trump contract, whether the extra men wanted the numbing chill of an April night on the bench yelling for the regulars more than they wanted a steaming cup of coffee in the Players Lounge.
He’d find out if they wanted it badly enough to sacrifice batting averages for team winning percentage, badly enough to take the extra base, obey a take sign in the middle of an 0-for-15 slump with the count 3-1. He wondered if they had the desire and discipline to move a runner from second to third with a ground ball to the right side.
Soon, it would be March and he would start finding out.
Wednesday morning, March 5, the first full-squad workout of spring training… It is usually a day filled with optimism, even for clubs without a chance of contending. But on this morning, there is snickering in the clubhouse, cynical asides. There is a huge white sign with red lettering next to the entrance to the Carpenter Complex clubhouse. It is strategically located so that anybody stopping for coffee, hot soup or Gatorade must look it right in the foot-high block letters.
It says, “We, Not I!”
Larry Bowa sneers. “Christ,” the shortstop says, “what time do the bleeping pom-pom girls come in to lead the cheers?”
That was the attitude. They told Dallas Green how badly they wanted to win. But they still wanted to do it on their terms, not his. They didn’t want spring training to interfere with their golf or tennis games, with their beach time or cookout time.
As spring training flowed into the regular season, he spelled out the program for them time and time again, always in a growl, shout or undisguised bellow which ruffled their delicate sensibilities. The program was simple:
When you come to the ballpark, come on time. When the team bus arrives at the ballpark when we’re on the road, all card games, dominoes or backgammon will stop. When you come to the ballpark, you’re mine. Everybody takes batting practice, everybody takes infield practice. During the games I want everybody on the bench rooting for the guys in the field, or our guy at bat. I want everybody watching the other team, how they play our hitters, how they defend the bunt, how they throw from the outfield, how they pitch our guys. I want hustle on the field at all times. Phillies baseball. We don’t have a lot of guys who can hit the ball out of the park anymore, so we’ve got to grind it out, make things happen, be aggressive on the bases.
Uh huh, we’ll be right there, Dallas, as soon as we finish this bridge hand. Go on out and watch the extra men hit.
United Charter Flight 5004 descends over the gently rolling farmland of Western Missouri. Traveling secretary Eddie Ferenz is busily passing out red and white pom-poms to a group of pretty cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are the wives of the National League Champion Phillies. They will shake them for the photographers when they deplane at Kansas City International Airport. They will shake them with vigor and enthusiasm because their husbands have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series and they are suddenly involved in the most breathtaking two weeks of their young lives.
A writer who recalled Bowa’s reaction to the “We, Not I” sign in March could not help noticing the ironic parallel. Finally, here were the bleeping pom-pom girls to lead the cheers.
Green played the media the way Nijinsky danced Swan Lake. Not that he was that crazy about the milling, probing, often abrasive local sportswriters. In his regard for the press, Dallas is a lot closer to Ruly Carpenter than he is to Frank Luccesi. But he discovered early on that words which rolled like water off ducks’ backs when he spoke them in private to his athletes tended to have much greater impact when they appeared in print. Hackles actually began to rise, which was what Green wanted. Anger, he felt, was infinitely preferable to practiced cool, even when directed at him.
The Green-orchestrated media cannonade directed at the future World Champions became so intense after the Phils had lost a sixth straight game in Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 23, that Greg Luzinski, back home on the disabled list with a surgically-repaired knee, even got into the act. The Bull told a columnist that Green was coming on like he was the “bleeping Gestapo.”
Green told writers that Luzinski was entitled to his opinion, but if he wanted the manager’s job he should go to Ruly Carpenter and apply for it.
All through the Phillies’ frenetic, driving September and October, the air was filled with rancor. And Green’s player relations bottomed after a dramatic, 15-inning comeback victory over the Cubs. That’s the night he said it wouldn’t surprise him if some guys “weren’t rooting for us not to win this thing.” Bowa had ripped Green’s failure to start veterans Bob Boone, Maddox and Luzinski in the crucial series with Chicago on a radio show earlier in the evening. Dallas replied by saying if he ever revealed everything he had on his shortstop, “he’d never play another inning for the Phillies, and that’s official.”
Through all of this, the Phillies were playing the most intense baseball in their history. They were winning. They were following the program, even though it was often with gritted teeth. “They’re finally proving to me and to themselves that they want to win this thing as badly as they’ve been telling me all along they want to win it,” Green said. “They’re doing it my may, which is the way I’ve told them it had to be done. There’s some ruffled feelings out there, but that’s OK. I don’t hold grudges. I hope they don’t either.”
It is October 21, Game 6 of the World Series. The extra men and pitchers are lined up along the first base line. Now Dallas Green is introduced. The largest baseball crowd in Vet history, 65,838, roars as Green runs to join them. Not one player applauds.
Garry Maddox was talking after the historic, 4-1 victory.
“The manager’s in charge and it was up to us to make the adjustments,” Garry said. “We accepted his program, it paid off and I have to give him a lot of credit for that. Though I might not agree with a lot of things that he did, I have to respect what he did and I have to give him a lot of credit for doing what he thought was right and being successful with that.”
But there was still a bone of contention caught in Garry’s throat.
“He didn’t feel he had to tell us anything he wanted us to do. We would maybe have to read about it or something like that. I think he went to the press before coming to talk to us and I think that rubbed a lot of us the wrong way,” he said. “But that’s just a small thing among many things that happened. When you change managers there are gonna be some guys who won’t go along with him.
“It was hard on me, no question of that. I disagreed and was mad. He took me out a lot of times in situations where I thought he should at least talk to me to try to communicate with me, but didn’t. I wanted to play. I wanted to be a part of this team. That was the way he was gonna run things. He’s the manager, he’s in charge and I had to go along with that if I intended to play. That’s the way it is.”
Bill Virdon was named National League Manager of the Year by his peers the other day. Virdon edged Atlanta’s Bobby Cox and Montreal’s Dick Williams in one of the closest elections on record.
Dallas Green didn’t get a call. That’s because he broke too many time-honored lodge rules. He criticized his players publicly. He shafted Randy Lerch and Nino Espinosa. He had the audacity to say in print that anytime you score three runs you should beat the New York Mets. Also, he was a pitcher in a league where the only other ex-pitcher managing is Tommy Lasorda.
It should be pointed out the managers had plenty of time to cast their votes. Ten of them who attended the playoffs had absolutely nothing else to do.
Meanwhile, Dallas Green was occupied with the task of managing baseball games until Oct. 21.
And as Garry Maddox says, that’s the way it is.