Felske Takes His Turn

Paul Owens was through as a manager, and general manager as well, following the 1984 season. Bill Giles became the new general manager, and his first task was to find a new field manager. He looked down the bench at the coaches who had worked for Paul Owens: Dave Bristol, Lee Elia (how did he get away from Dallas Green?), John Felske, Deron Johnson, Claude Osteen (his pitching coach), and Mike Ryan (his bullpen coach). There is a good reason why modern major league ballclubs have so many coaches, and if I find out what it is, I’ll be sure to write it down. Whatever.

“Felske!” Bill Giles declaimed, “How about you give it a shot?” John Felske was another one of those work-your-way-up-in-the-system guys; after a successful minor league managing career, he had been promoted to big league coach, and now manager. It’s unlikely that Bill Giles, or anybody else, gave him any chance of leading the Phillies to even a respectable won-loss record, let alone becoming a championship contender. Beyond aging stars Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, he was working with a collection of below average major league ballplayers. It’s a wonder he won as many games as he did.

The season opener, on a Tuesday night in April, at Veterans Stadium before 35,361 fans set the tone. The Phillies lost 6-0, and made six errors, three by new shortstop, Steve Jeltz. Steve Carlton may have been 40 years old, but as he had been in every year except one since 1972, he was the Phillies opening day pitcher, and, as in eight of those 12 starts, he was the losing pitcher. Carlton pitched in only 16 games in 1985 with nine decisions, one win, eight losses. Mike Schmidt played 106 games at first base, and 54 at third in 1985; he hit 33 home runs and batted in 93. 

Felske wrung 75 wins out of his team (he lost 87) to finish fourth , 26 games behind the winning Cardinals.

By max blue

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Bill Giles, John Felske, Mike Schmidt, Paul Owens, Philadelphia Phillies, Steve Carlton


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