Felske Out, Elia In

In 1987, the National League East had three teams that won 90 or more games, but the Phillies were not one of them; they were a notch below, tied with Pittsburgh at 80-82, 15 games behind the winning St.Louis Cardinals at the end. John Felske got through 61 games with a 29-32 record before being fired on June 17 in Chicago following a 5-3 loss to Jamie Moyer and the Cubs. General Manager Bill Giles’ choice for new Phillies’ field manager was Lee Elia.

Where have we heard that name before? When Dallas Green bolted to Chicago in 1982, Lee Elia is one of the guys who went with him. Green hired him to manage the Cubs in 1982 and fired him in 1983. We read that Green and Elia were college roommates at the University of Delaware. In 1984, Elia was the bench coach for Paul Owens. It’s my understanding that the bench coach is the guy who stands close to the manager while a game is going on so he can advise about who’s ready in the bullpen and who’s not; also when double switches are missed or go bad, it’s always good to have a bench coach to blame.

Elia was best remembered in Chicaco for the most unimaginative post-game interview ever recorded when he used the F-word 22 times in a 240-word rant about Cubs’ fans who had the temerity to boo his players when they were out there busting their butts for the team. So Dallas Green and Lee Elia were cut from the same profanity-stained cloth that it seemed could profit creatively from a few sessions with a Cantonese rickshaw puller. And Elia was the new Phillies manager.

Did Bill Giles really think he was better than John Felske? The Phillies lost six of seven for the new manager, but recovered to play near .500 ball behind strong performances from Mike Schmidt, Juan Samuel, and Von Hayes, to say nothing of Steve Bedrosian who saved 40 games and was named Cy Young Award winner in a tight vote with the Cubs’ Rick Sutcliff.

Speaking of creativity, it was unclear whether piching coach Claude Osteen should get credit  for the August 10 incident when Kevin Gross, one of his starting pitchers, was ejected, fined, and suspended for being caught with sandpaper in his glove.

By max blue

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Bill Giles, Cy Young Award, Dallas Green, John Felske, Juan Samuel, Kevin Gross, Lee Elia, Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies, Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Bedrosian, Von Hayes


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