I didn’t know late Phillies icon Dallas Green personally. In fact, I never met him.
When Green was a guest on the WIP Morning Show in Clearwater, I was probably back at the studio. I never got a chance to introduce myself during my thousands of days at the ballpark, whether it be Veterans Stadium or Citizens Bank Park. And when I think about it, I can only recall one time the tall giant himself was even in my presence. Oh my, was he a larger than life figure … literally. The tributes haven’t lied.
So then you’re probably wondering, what in the world does Dave Uram have to offer on the great Dallas Green if he never even met him?
Well, I’ll offer this – I’m grateful Green helped shaped me into the Phillies fan I am today.
I wasn’t alive during 1980 and I don’t remember him as the manager of the New York Mets in the mid-90s. But, Green’s significant contribution and affect on the history of Phillies baseball without question played a part in making me as loyal and interested as I’ve become.
I’m no Ray Didinger, Glen Macnow or Reuben Frank, but I’d consider myself somewhat of a historian of the major pro teams in town. I’ve watched movies, read stories and books – and I hate reading books – and asked questions to those who did live through events of the past that I’m so fascinated about.
It took me a few minutes, but I remember how I first learned about the background of Dallas Green. It was through the multi-disc DVD set about the 1980 World Championship team, which included two documentaries, full versions of Game 5 of the NLCS and Game 6 of the World Series, as well as a short feature on Green.
I learned about Green’s rise through the organization as farm director and then manager during the 1979 season. I became aware of how a lot of the veterans couldn’t stand Green’s mannerisms. I found out about his brash, tough, Philadelphia-like intensity that this city relates to so well. And most importantly, I was taught that a tirade the Phillies’ manager went on in August during a double-header at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh sent a “window closing” franchise into a new gear. It put the downward spiraling Phillies on a great run to the playoffs and eventually led to victories in an epic five-game NLCS against the Houston Astros and a back-and-forth World Series versus Kansas City.
And the coolest part about that education was, I’m pretty sure (probably 80 to 90 percent) it happened during the 2008 season right before Charlie Manuel’s Phils went on their World Championship run. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.
How could I not be a fan of Dallas Green just from watching those DVDs alone? The story of the 1980 Phillies is in a league of its own compared to most of the other (yet few) championship teams in this city’s history.
But that’s only a portion of why I’m so fond of the icon who passed away on Wednesday.
After becoming a part of the media, I learned about the Green’s honesty, personality and likability. Even if I didn’t agree with something Dallas said, how could I become mad? Truthfully, how could I disagree with him, even if I did.
So often in this day and age, athletes and sports figures give us “chalk.” They provide us with standard issue remarks to avoid causing problems. Green never held back. He always kept it straight, even if it was detrimental to the inner fabric of the organization. It was a sign of outstanding respect for the people who rooted for the Phillies.
I lived through Charlie Manuel (champion), Andy Reid (winningest Eagles head coach), Larry Brown (basketball legend) and many successful Flyers coaches who had that team competing in the playoffs just about every season. None, however, were impactful on me as Dallas Green.
He’s one of a kind, a Philadelphia treasure and a folk hero for future generations of Phillies fans to learn about.
Allow me to tip my cap to the great Dallas Green, who will be tremendously missed by me, even though I never got to shake his hand while saying directly to his face … “Thank you.”