The '92 Phillies: The Beginning of a Dream, Part 2

Coming into the '92 season, the Phillies were thought to be a pretty decent team. Almost from day one though, injuries took key players out of action and other key ingredients of the team were saddled by extended slumps. Young players tried to fit in, but many came up short. Still, the 1992 season formed what would be the National League Championship team of 1993.

As May ended, right-handed pitcher Ben Rivera was on his way in, Lenny Dykstra was still unable to play and Dale Murphy was hoping to return to the Phillies roster. But June would bring more of the same struggles for the Phillies, as many of their pitchers faltered. Tommy Greene was still plagued by relentless shoulder pain and Terry Mulholland was simply struggling to get a win.

Phillies fans, however, would feel a source of pride for one particular player. Darren Daulton would go on to become only the fourth catcher in baseball to win the RBI title in a season and was the first catcher to do so in the long history of the Phillies. On June third, Daulton helped the Phils to a 4-1 victory over the mighty Atlanta Braves with a two run homer. Two days later, a three-run homerun in the eighth inning of a game with the Cardinals would power the team to another win, courtesy of the man his teammates would later say was their team leader. It was a long way to get to that point but his popularity would soar to new heights with both men and women (though probably for different reasons). Daulton had suffered a shattered knee behind the plate in 1986 and it was an injury that would haunt him for years; Daulton never stopped playing hard and he would gain enormous respect for battling through sometimes excruciating pain during the '92 and '93 seasons.

The Phillies pitching staff was a drama in itself. The shoulder injury that was keeping Tommy Greene from pitching was now found to be a stress reaction and he would leave his third straight start of the season. Terry Mulholland , who got a much needed win (4-1) over the Chicago Cubs, would leave in the seventh inning of that game with a broken bone in his right hand. And Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams blew another save - his ninth of the season - in a game against Atlanta that saw Williams give up four runs in the final two innings as the Braves won 5-3. The unpredictable closer, who the Phillies had gotten from the Texas Rangers for next to nothing, was what they call a top step pitcher. You might find manager Jim Fregosi at the top step of the dugout frantically watching his go-to-man and praying that Williams wouldn't screw it up. Though Williams is often remembered negatively, his unconventional ways led to success for the Phillies more often than not. Williams also led National League closers with an .870 save percentage in '92.

While Williams was hit-and-miss, Curt Schilling seemed to always be on. In a June 24th game against the Montreal Expos Schill would thrill with a 5-0 shutout; his second in just two weeks.

As July began, Kyle Abbott recorded his ninth straight loss. Expectations for the lefty started high, but had fallen completely flat. The Phillies were in a six game losing skid, which included a loss at home to the Padres. It would be the second week of July before the Phillies would break out of their slump with masterful pitching from Curt Schilling. And, Lenny Dykstra's return to form would be proven in a July 19th game against the Dodgers. Facing a 4-0 deficit, the Phils came back to win 6-5. They would go on to win their next three and suddenly, Dykstra had hiked his average to .299, a point off of the goal the hardworking outfielder had set for himself.

July would end with the Phillies pitching staff again in the glare of the spotlight. The news for Tommy Greene would go from bad to worse when it was announced that he might not return for the season after being unable to complete two AAA rehab assignment games, leaving his first game after only three innings. As it turned out, the season would be almost over before Greene would return.

In the final two games of August Terry Mulholland pitched fantastic, throwing a 7-2 win over the Giants and then pounding the Expos by the same 7-2 score in his next start. Dave Hollins homered in Mulholland's win over the Expos and Mitch Williams recorded the save. As July ended, Darren Daulton recorded his 18th homerun of the season putting his league leading RBI total at 76.

But for all their grit and guts the Phillies were in last place and any contention for the pennant was gone. Team manager Jim Fregosi was now about to start looking at 1993 prospects, and improving the bullpen was first on his list.

The Phillies were preparing for their inevitable ending that season but they still had a little more to go.

Read The Beginning of a Dream, Part One

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