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No one knows '83, '93 Phillies better than Andersen

No one knows '83, '93 Phillies better than Andersen

No one knows '83, '93 Phillies better than Andersen

PHILADELPHIA -- According to Larry Andersen, who should know, there was only one way the 1983 and '93 Phillies were at all alike. 

"There were no similarities other than both teams went to the World Series," Andersen declared. 

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End of story.

Well, there is one other connection between the 1983 Wheeze Kids and the stitched-together group of rambunctious misfits that followed a decade later and are celebrating big even-numbered anniversaries this season. That would be, well ... um ... Larry Andersen.

See, the popular current radio analyst is the only player to appear in both Fall Classics for the Phillies, which gives him a unique perspective on how totally opposite those teams were in almost every way.

"Night and day. Black and white," Andersen said. "When the Phillies bought my contract in '83 and I walked into that clubhouse, I was excited and intimidated. I walked into Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt, Tug McGraw, Gary Matthews, Garry Maddox. Walking into that clubhouse and seeing those guys, then going and putting my stuff in my locker, my locker was right next to Tug's. I was almost having to pinch myself. 'Am I really here?'

"From a pure baseball sense, with those players, it was comparable to walking into baseball heaven, I guess. I walked into the Hall of Fame, and I wasn't even in Cooperstown. It was something."

Andersen was 30 years old at the time and confronting his baseball mortality. At the end of Spring Training, he had been sent to Triple-A by the Mariners. Except that Seattle's top farm team, the Salt Lake City Gulls, didn't really have a spot for him. So Andersen was loaned to the Portland Beavers, a Phillies affiliate at the time. But on July 29, his contract was officially purchased from the Mariners. A day later, he pitched for the Phils for the first time. Andersen remained on the roster for the rest of the season and made two appearances in the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Andersen was released by the Phillies in May 1986 and signed with the Astros. In August 1990, he was traded to the Red Sox in a deal for Jeff Bagwell that still lives in infamy around Fenway Park. Andersen became a free agent at the end of that season and signed with the Padres. Two years later, he was a free agent again and signed with the Phils, a one-year deal for $700,000. And the situation he found when he returned was ... different.

"In '93, it wasn't a baseball team. It was a bunch of guys who wanted to party and play some baseball on the side," Andersen said. "The '83 team was very business-like, not a lot of joking around, not a lot of having fun. In '93, it was the complete opposite -- beer-drinking, partying, fun-loving guys who, even with that, played the game right and played it hard."

Let's just say that the then-40-year-old Andersen fit in better with the '93 team.

"I mean, I had fun in '83 and the earlier years of my career. But I always envisioned baseball when I was growing up, and I don't know why, that you get to the ballpark early, you hang out, you talk about baseball," he said. "And after the game, you sit around and have some beers and talk about the game. And it was taken to the nth degree with that '93 team.

"We were there in the clubhouse after the game for a minimum of an hour and a half. Minimum. People might say, 'Yeah, you're sitting around talking about going out and chasing women and this and that.' No, we sat around and talked about baseball and that game and other games and who we were facing next. To me, that's what made that the greatest year of my life in baseball, because my perceptions of what it was supposed to be like came true."

The 1983 team had confidence, too, but expressed it in a different way.

"For me, walking in from the outside, it was almost like going through the motions until September," Andersen said. "And then Joe got hot. And with Pete there, he didn't let you not go hard, being positive and saying, 'We're going to go out and we're going to do this and we're going to do this and we're going to do this.' I didn't see the same confidence from that team when I first got there until September. Then it was like, 'OK, boys, it's time to turn it on, let's go.' And they did.

"I didn't think you could flip the switch. Those guys did. They were certainly able to do it. The '93 team was game on from Spring Training all the way through."

The '93 Phillies flipped the switch in Spring Training and never looked back. Even coming off a last-place finish, even though most of the players had never been in the postseason, a quiet confidence began to build before the team even left Clearwater, Fla. The sense that something special was happening only intensified when they opened the regular season by going into the Astrodome and sweeping a Houston team that had expectations of contending after adding free agents Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell.

They came back to Veterans Stadium and lost the home opener to fall into a tie for second place. They won the next game to regain the top spot and led every day for the rest of the season.

That team then upset the favored Braves in a thrilling National League Championship Series. Three of their four wins were by one run. Their losses were by the scores of 14-3 and 9-4. In the opener, third baseman Kim Batiste's error allowed Atlanta to tie the score in the ninth, but his single drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th. In Game 5 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Lenny Dykstra's homer in the 10th gave the Phils the win. The Braves had scored three times in the ninth to tie the score and would have won in regulation if Mark Lemke's screaming line drive to left hadn't veered foul by inches at the last possible second.

The turning point in the clincher came when Mickey Morandini lined a ball off the shin of Braves starter Greg Maddux in the first inning. Morandini was out and the four-time NL Cy Young Award winner stayed in the game. But he wasn't sharp, and the Phillies advanced. 

Philadelphia put up a good fight in the World Series, too, rallying to take the lead in the ninth inning of Game 6 before Joe Carter's dramatic walk-off home run gave the Blue Jays their second straight World Series championship.

There was far less postseason drama in 1983. The Phils beat the Dodgers handily, led by NLCS MVP Matthews, who batted .429 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Then after a 2-1 win in Game 1 of the World Series, they lost four straight to the Orioles. 

Another big difference: In 1983, manager Pat Corrales was dismissed 86 games into the season, even though the team was in first place. General manager Paul "The Pope" Owens came down from the front office for the rest of the schedule.

"I got there just after that, and I think that was part of what I walked into, some semblance of disarray," Andersen said. "It was almost like, 'What just happened? We were in first place, weren't we? And the manager gets fired?' But for whatever reason, they rallied around Pope. ... He expected guys to go out there and play the right way. He put the lineup out and if guys didn't like it, he was like, 'Tough. Too bad. This is what we're doing and this is how we're doing it.' And guys took notice of it. And once things got going in September, they just took it on themselves to finish it off."

Ten years later, Jim Fregosi would intervene when necessary, but the skipper also deputized catcher Darren Daulton to keep an eye on the clubhouse and largely allowed peer pressure to keep everybody in line. Coincidentally, Daulton made his big league debut for the Phillies in 1983, but he didn't appear in the postseason.

"We policed ourselves," Andersen said. "You had to go out there and you had to do it. And if somebody didn't do it, they were going to hear about it from [a teammate]. It wasn't anybody getting in faces so much as going up and saying, 'Hey, you need to do this' or 'You need to do that.' And you don't see that much anymore. In '83, Pete was there to say something or Joe or Tony Perez, but it was more business-like. In '93, it was more, 'OK, this is what you're going to do.' Guys talked about things they didn't do right and corrected it, bang, right there by themselves.

"In some respects, it might have been a tough team for [Fregosi]. But in other respects, it was probably the easiest team he had to manage, because he didn't have to put his foot down a whole lot. We took care of that ourselves. And I think it made everybody better. It made everybody want to be better and not do the wrong things or make mistakes. I'm not talking about physical errors or making a bad pitch. I'm talking about the mental part of it. If guys made a mental error, they heard about it immediately."

Yes, these were two teams with almost nothing in common, even the uniforms were different. In 1983, the caps and pinstripes were maroon and there was a stylized "P" on the front of the jerseys. When the franchise got back to the World Series a decade later, red was the predominant color and "Phillies" was spelled out across the front of their shirts.

Come to think of it, though, there was one other trademark these teams shared.

"Both played the game the right way," said Andersen.

And he should know, after all.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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