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Lee Thomas Era Begins
First, a new manager; somebody he knew – Nick Leyva. Leyva was only 36 years old, but held his first managerial job at the age of 24 with the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League; he had been a coach for Whitey Herzog since 1984. Lee Thomas liked him, and began as quickly as he could to give him something to work with.
A new shortstop might help – on January 27, he purchased Dickie Thon from San Diego. Next, a couple of pitchers, Larry McWilliams and Steve Ontiveros signed as free agents.
Thomas and Leyva needed a new third baseman when, on May 29 in San Francisco, Mike Schmidt, 39, soon to be 40 years old, suddenly announced his retirement. Schmidt was hitting just .203, but had six home runs at the time. The team at 18-29 appeared to be heading nowhere – they had just lost a fifth straight game in what would become an 11-game losing streak. Schmidt’s 548 home runs left him at seventh on the all-time list. If Schmitty had known what Lee Thomas had cooking, he might have stayed around a bit longer.
Schmidt’s departure had unforseen consequences for the team – a leadership change in the clubhouse. It would not occur immediately, and there would be no formal announcement – the Phillies had no tradition of designated team captains, but someone would emerge over time as a team leader, especially if the team began to win. A possibility was a 28-year-old catcher now in his fifth year of undistinguished service to the team; it was Darren Daulton, they called him “Dutch”.
In June, Thomas executed three deals that changed everything.
June 2 – Traded outfielder Chris James to San Diego for Randy Ready and John Kruk.
June 18 – Traded Steve Bedrosian to San Francisco for Terry Mulholland, Dennis
Cook, and Charlie Hayes.
June 18 – Traded Juan Samuel to New York Mets for Lenny Dykstra and Roger
After July 1, with the new players in place, the team played close to .500 ball, but still finished sixth and last, 26 games behind the winning Cubs.By max blue