The story of the 1979 season was written in the three seasons leading up to that year, and most definitely written in the winter prior to the season. The Phillies had won three straight NL East Championships, but had failed in their quest for a World Series Championship or even a spot in the Fall Classic. With that in mind, GM Paul Owens set out after the 1978 season to put the final pieces in place that would make Philadelphia a World Champion.
As November of 1978 came to a close, it looked like the Phillies would come up short in their bid for the top free agent on the market. That was none other than Pete Rose. The Phillies simply didn't have the kind of money that Rose was looking for, but then Bill Giles had a brainstorm. Realizing that signing Rose would mean a boost to the TV ratings - and thus, their revenue - of WPHL-TV, who carried the local Phillies games, Giles approached the station with his hand out. Reasoning with station executives, Giles got money from the station that he could use to lure Rose to the City of Brotherly Love. On December 5th, the deal, worth $3.2-million over four years, was announced. Back then, that was big money that made owners stop and think. Now, it's a utility infielder.
http://www.scout.com/mlb/phillies/story/1763489-the-benefits-of-being-a-... With Rose on the roster, Owens went to work. Incumbent first baseman Richie Hebner was now expendable and Owens shipped him to division rival New York for pitcher Nino Espinosa. Owens felt the team could do better than Ted Sizemore at second base, so he sent him along with outfielder Jerry Martin, catcher Barry Foote and two minor league pitching prospects (Henry Mack and Derek Botelho) to the Cubs for all-star second baseman Manny Trillo, outfielder Greg Gross and catcher Dave Rader.
Now, Owens and the city of Philadelphia felt that the World Series Championship was theirs.
Things opened very well for the Phillies, as they won 24 of their first 34 games. However, the last win, which came on May 17th signaled a distinct downturn for the team. Ironically, that win came in Chicago when the Phillies and Cubs combined to put up 45 runs, with the Phillies coming out of the contest with a 23-22 win. Just as it appeared that the Phillies were going to brush aside every bit of competition that season, things turned sour. Over the next three weeks, the Phillies won just five games and were suddenly not just out of first, but had slipped as far as fourth in the NL East.
Trillo wound up missing time with a broken forearm after being hit by a pitch in early May. Espinosa and Carlton were stalwarts in the rotation, but they were the only ones, as Randy Lerch, Larry Christenson and Dick Ruthven all struggled. Eventually, Ruthven was lost to a bad elbow. Ron Reed won 13 games as a reliever, but was showing signs of wearing down and saw his ERA start to trend upward. Tug McGraw, who would become a hero in 1980 simply couldn't get anybody out.
Rose was everything the Phillies had hoped. He was hitting well over .300 for much of the season and fit well at first base. Veterans Stadium was flooded with fans and WPHL was happy because the ratings were through the roof.
On August 30th, the Phillies lost their fifth straight game and had lost eight of their last nine. The playoffs, let alone the World Series, were well out of reach as the Phillies were now in fifth place and 12.5 games out of first. Owens had changed many of the pieces in his quest to get the team to the World Series, except one. Manager Danny Ozark, who had managed over 1,000 games for the Phillies, was fired with the team at 65-67 on the season.
Owens didn't look to find an heir-apparent to the job. Instead, he looked to someone who could do player evaluations from the inside. Owens turned to his player development director, Dallas Green to manage the team's final 30 games. Job security wasn't a thought for Green, who was happy doing what he was doing. Instead, he wanted to find out what the clubhouse was like and determine who should be kept and who should be shipped out. The plan was for him to report back to Owens and then return to his old job while Owens picked a new manager.
Instead, something clicked. Green became more than a player evaluation guy. He became an antagonist, who spoke out to the press about the lackadaisical habits of his players and he got in the player's faces, something Ozark would have never attempted. At 6' 5", with a booming voice, and a comfy job to go back to, Green had nothing to lose.
The plan for Green to go back to his old job failed. Instead, a 19-11 finish to the 1979 season made him the new manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and would be at the helm for the 1980 season. Green still didn't change his approach and many players have admitted to simply hating Green for his brash way of dealing with the players. One thing that Dallas Green had going for him that Ozark didn't was that even with all of his intimidating ways, he also had the ear of the team's general manager. Players knew that if they didn't learn to play for Dallas Green, they would be out of Philadelphia and headed for who knows where?
We all know that Green's first full season as manager of the Phillies ended with a parade down Broad Street. That's not to say that the 1980 season was smooth. Green and the players sniped at one another and the manager went so far as to simply explode on his team between games of a double-header in Pittsburgh, with the team having lost the first game to fall six games out in the division, Green let loose and it changed the season. Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky chronicled the episode in The Phillies Encyclopedia.
Between games of the Sunday double-header, manager Dallas Green exploded. Dallas' normal speaking voice can be mistaken for a public address system. When he yells, it shows up on the Richter scale. This afternoon, Dallas yelled louder than ever. He exhausted the book of obscenities as his words somehow drifted through the steel doors that separated the locker room from the corridor in Three Rivers Stadium.
The explosion worked, and as Green had said earlier, "if I keep yelling and screaming, eventually, they'll start listening."