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The 1993 Phillies 'haven't changed a damn bit'
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Danny Jackson had a 1.04 ERA in the playoffs for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals in 1985. He won 23 games for the Reds in 1988. He led Cincinnati to a victory in Game 3 of the 1990 World Series and became a champion again.

And yet through all of that, he still remembers his two seasons in Philadelphia most fondly.

“This city has embraced the ‘93 team so much,” Jackson said Saturday while seated next to former teammate Mickey Morandini, manager Jim Fregosi and GM Lee Thomas as Phillies Alumni Weekend continued. “In Cincinnati they remember the 1990 [team] but not to this extent with this city. And with the Royals, they’ve only won once in their whole history, and there's a lot of people that remember it, but there's a whole lot of people that don’t even know when I walk down the streets who I am. But when I walk here, they know who I am. Especially when I take my shirt off.”

That last quip from the 51-year-old former lefty caused the Phillies’ media room to erupt with laughter, as it did on several occasions while the four men reminisced about one of the most storied teams in the history of the organization and the sport itself.

Blue-collar. Tough. Hard-nosed. It’s hard to enter any conversation about the ’93 Phils without hearing those terms almost immediately. It was a lively bunch that was perfect for its era. “I think our club would’ve been in a lot of trouble with social media,” Fregosi admitted.

“That particular team, we were all hard-nosed players, we were down to earth, we were out in the community, whether we were eating or gassing up cars, we were respectful to the fans,” Jackson recalled. “We were supposed to be the outcasts. We were supposed to be the no-good, beer-drinking, womanizing” -- “Hey, you got it right!” Fregosi cut in.

That team, which went 97-65, has seen its players do everything from coach (Morandini, Jeff Manto) to broadcast (Curt Schilling, Mitch Williams, John Kruk, Darren Daulton, Larry Andersen) to end up in scandals (Schilling, Lenny Dykstra). Life after baseball has been eventful and entertaining for a group of guys who never wanted to separate in the first place.

“We got in a fight [in spring training] in St. Pete against the St. Louis Cardinals. That kinda brought our whole group together as a team,” Fregosi said. “The difference about this team is the players on this team cared about each other, not only each other but they cared about the organization that brought us all together.

“If you'd see how they act together [now], they haven’t changed a damn bit.”

“We were a close team,” Jackson added. “I hated leaving this team because from there on it was never the same. There was never a team I've been a part of where we stayed in the clubhouse as long as we did.

“When we see each other it’s like we never left each other. ... I don’t have this relationship with any other team. I bounced around, but this is the most special team I've ever been a part of.”

It’s why everyone from Thomas to Morandini and Jackson to Wes Chamberlain and Tony Longmire remain in the fold for occasions like these. The ’93 Phils were celebrated prior to Saturday's game and every former player – save outfielder-turned-general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. – was cheered heartily. (Why the smattering of boos? Did Amaro not have a .921 OPS for that team?)

“There’s no better organization than this one when it comes to family, and reunions, and taking care of older players,” Morandini acknowledged. “I played for the Cubs for two years and I’d call them when I lived in Chicago and say, ‘Hey can I bring my family to the game?’ And they’d say, ‘Do you have a credit card?’ I can call the Phillies up and they'll go, ‘Yeah let’s get you a box, and here's your parking ticket.’

“There's no better organization.”

Fregosi on strategy
Fregosi employed three platoons during the 1993 season, using Milt Thompson and Pete Incaviglia in left field, Jim Eisenreich and Chamberlain in right field and Morandini and Mariano Duncan at second base.

It certainly worked, as Phillies leftfielders hit .270/.332/.453, Phillies rightfielders hit .312 with an .847 OPS and Duncan complemented Morandini well at second, hitting .280 in 290 plate appearances at the position.

Fregosi described his methods in a way that makes you wonder why platoons aren’t as prevalent in today’s game.

“I've always thought in the National League if you can have two platoon situations or three platoon situations ...,” Fregosi began. “You have 13 players on your club. You very seldom use the second catcher because you've got to save him. But you keep the other 12 players sharp with the platoon, because the extra players in the National League are the ones that win games for you. How many times did Duncan come off the bench, or anyone come off the bench and win the game for us?

“That’s how I feel about the National League. In the American League, the DH takes care of the bench, and as the manager you raise pom-poms and cheer. In the National League the manager has something to do.”

Memorable mound visit
Daulton, an eight-year veteran by then, was the undisputed leader of the ’93 Phils. He was the player Fregosi would go to when he wanted a message sent to the team that would be better received from a player than from an authority figure.

Jackson recalls vividly one instance when he and his battery mate butted heads on the mound, one they laugh about to this day.

“Normally when I’m out there I usually had my first three innings where I struggled a bit, but if I get past those first three innings, I'm OK,” Jackson said.

“Well I'm struggling a little bit in the first two innings, Dutch came to the mound and he says, ‘Dammit Danny, why don’t you start throwing [bleepin’] strikes?’ And I turned to him and I said, ‘Dutch, you get back there and shut your mouth. I'm a 10-year veteran, I’m not no rookie out here, I’ll get through it. So just call the pitches and I’ll throw it if I can get it there. So shut up and get back there.’

"That was our conversation on the mound.”

Alrighty then.