Phillies Time Machine: 1989

As the Phillies spend the weekend remembering the ‘80s, <I></I> will take a look back at three seasons from the decade as part of out <I>Phillies Time Machine</I> features. Today, we look at 1989, the official end of the Mike Schmidt era. Saturday, we'll look at 1983 and the Phillies failed trip to the World Series. Sunday of course, we'll close it out with a look back at the 1980 World Champions.

1989 saw Nick Leyva, the Phillies fifth manager since 1983, take over at the helm. Things didn't go well for Leyva as the Phillies rookie manager struggled to put a consistent lineup on the field, let alone a winning lineup. General Manager Lee Thomas made a considerable amount of trades and acquisitions to try to find the winning combination, but it just wasn't meant to be.

In all of the change, the Phillies did find a couple of players, who would go down as fan favorites. Thomas picked up John Kruk from the Padres and on Father's Day, Lenny Dykstra would join the team in a deal with the Mets that was, oddly enough, announced after the two teams had played each other.

The pitching staff was especially a problem and was quickly disintegrating before their very eyes. Floyd Youmans had been acquired from the Expos and was supposed to be somewhat of a savior. Youmans made just ten starts in '89 because of injuries and finished with a 5.70 ERA.

By the end of May, the Phillies were floundering as they traveled to San Diego. On a sunny San Diego afternoon, the Phillies called a press conference and Mike Schmidt strolled into the room to announce that his Hall of Fame career was over. Schmidty was hitting just .203 and had added only six homeruns to his career total in 1989. As Schmidt wept at the end of his career, fans realized that an era had come to an end. Some fans loved him and some hated him, but there was no denying that Mike Schmidt would go down as one of the best to ever play the game.

Charlie Hayes had the unenviable task of taking over for Schmidt and hit just eight homeruns and put up a .258 average as the Phillies third baseman. John Kruk took over in left field and hit .331 with the Phils, while Dykstra somewhat energized the team with his all out play, but his numbers showed nothing. "Nails" would hit just .222 in his first season as a Phillie.

Another Hayes, Von Hayes, was still taunted as "Mr. Five-for-one", a reference to the five players that the Phillies had jettisoned to Cleveland when they acquired Hayes in 1983. Even though he was taunted, Hayes was solid and led the Phillies with 26 homeruns, while hitting .285 and stealing 28 bases. Just two other Phillies, Dickie Thon (15) and Ricky Jordan (12) hit over ten homeruns that season.

Even amidst all of the struggles, June provided some true fireworks. The Phillies fell behind the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-0 in the first inning, only to come back to beat the Pirates 15-11. Steve Jeltz became the first player in Phillies history to hit a homerun from each side of the plate in the same game.

In September, the Phillies brought up their top draft pick from 1988. Pat Combs was supposed to become a Phillies great, but it would never work out that way. Instead, Combs went onto a long list of first round picks who never truly panned out for the Phillies. Combs did seem brilliant in that first September, going 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA for the Phillies. Unfortunately, it would be the only winning season that Combs would ever have as a major leaguer.

Off the field, there was turmoil as well. Farm Director Lance Nichols was fired and Del Unser took over the beleaguered Phillies minor league system. Nick Leyva would have just one more full season as Phillies manager before being dismissed in 1991 in favor of Jim Fregosi.

The Phillies finished the season 67-95, but were 36-43 after the all-star break. That slight improvement would at least give the Phillies some encouragement as they entered the decade of the ‘90s.

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