This is a continued list of the top 50 Phillies TV and Radio calls of the last half century, a list I compiled after the great calls on both TV and radio last Sunday during the Phillies dramatic comeback to sweep the Los Angeles Angels.
We will be running 10 moments per day through Friday and then resuming next week, as we count down to No. 1.
My criteria for ranking these calls was outlined in the initial post. In case you missed it (it also includes Nos. 41-50) you can read it here.
Here are numbers 40-31.
40. The Wheeze Kids go to the World Series
The 1983 Phillies were the Travelling Wilburys of baseball. A bunch of aging legends who came together to make some great music for a very brief period of time. Von Hayes was the only lineup regular under the age of 30.
The rest of the lineup consisted of Pete Rose (42), Joe Morgan (39), Mike Schmidt (33), Garry Maddox (33), Gary Matthews (32), Bo Diaz (30) and Ivan DeJesus (30). Even guys like Tony Perez (41) and Greg Gross (30) had close to 300 plate appearances.
Steve Carlton (38) was the ace of the staff, but it was John Denny (30) who had the best year of his career that won the Cy Young Award and anchored an otherwise mediocre starting staff. The bullpen was solid, but it too was laden with veterans with Al Holland (30) closing games and Ron Reed (40) having one of his best seasons. Tug McGraw (38), Porfi Altamirano (31) and Larry Andersen (30) were the other primary firemen.
The team struggled early in the season and fired their manager, Pat Corrales, despite being in first place, albeit at just a game over .500. General Manager Paul “The Pope” Owens took over as manager, but even he couldn’t help the team find consistency, and after a loss on August 30, they were just 66-64. However, from there, the veterans played 10 years younger, especially Morgan, who carried the offense, and the Phillies went 24-8 the rest of the way to win the NL East.
Awaiting them was the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team that had beaten the Phillies 11-of-12 times in the regular season. But the playoffs were a different animal, and the Phillies took out the Dodgers in four games.
This wasn’t the best call of those playoffs, but it was still a great one, as Kalas hearkens back on the celebration when the Phillies won the World Series in 1980 when Schmidt had his iconic leap onto the pile celebrating the title at the pitcher’s mound, but saying this time “it’s Schmidt’s turn” as Holland leaped into his arms to celebrate winning the pennant on October 8, 1983.
And describing the locker room scene at the end, “there go the champagne corks,” is a great Harry moment as well.
39. Jim Thome hits home run No. 400
Great personal story about this game. On the morning of June 14, 2004, a buddy of mine calls me up and asks me to go to the game. It was a makeup game from an April rainout, so I was probably 30th on his list. Still, I agree. We go down early to grab dinner at McFadden’s.
By the time we pay and are ready to go into the stadium, the Phillies are coming up to bat. My friend says to me, “let’s watch the Phils bat here then go to the seats. I said, fine. Thome hits the home run to dead centerfield when it dawns on me… that’s where our seats were!
We got to the seats in the top of the second. The guy with the ball looks over at us and says, “Thanks for being late.” The ball was hit right at his seats. Unreal.
Bonus story, there was a long rain delay in this game. But the Phillies were not going to let it be called after Thome had already hit the home run, so they and the Reds were waiting it out. My buddy and I headed back to McFadden’s, where we ran into a few other friends, including WIP’s own Rhea Hughes. Rhea was tight with the guy managing at McFadden’s that night. As such, our “table” drank on the house the entirety of the rain delay.
It was a good consolation to not having Thome’s home run ball. It was also good to have a memorable Harry call to go with my story. “Take a bow, big man,” is definitely a personal favorite.
38. Ryan Howard sets a Philadelphia baseball home run record
Ryan Howard’s 2006 season was one of the best seasons in the history of the sport. His 58 home runs and 149 RBIs led the majors. As did his 383 total bases. He also hit .313 and had a .425 on base percentage and an OPS of 1.084.
These numbers had not been seen in Philadelphia before, or since. Well, at least not since the 1930s and the Athletics played as a second team in Philadelphia.
That’s when Jimmie Foxx also hit 58 home runs in a season – in 1932. Tying Foxx, Howard had at the time, was also tied for the tenth-most home runs in a season in the history of baseball.
Howard hit this homer on September 22, 2006. The Phillies had nine more games after this one to close out the regular season. The assumption was Howard could be the first player, post PED, to challenge Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in a season. Unfortunately, Howard did not hit a dinger in the final nine games.
Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 in 2017 dropping Howard to tied for 11th, but with the top six home run seasons clouded by the performance-enhancing drug (PED) controversy, Howard’s total is pretty epic.
As was Harry’s call of this homer. “Move over Double-X, the big man has joined you.” Even Harry’s description of the curtain call was exciting, “Here he comes. Here he comes! Yes sir!” Broadcasting gold.
37. Roy Halladay’s no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS
For most of my lifetime, there was only one answer to the question, how many no-hitters have there been in the postseason – Don Larsen, who threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series.
Then came Doc.
He was surgical. He was precise. It was an incredible performance. I watched from a bar in Pittsburgh, where I was waiting for the Flyers to play the Penguins a night later. I had the national call there. It wasn’t until I go home that I heard Scott Franzke’s call. Man, what a difference.
To setting the stage with the time and date (October 6, 2010), sensing history, to the urgency in his voice as he described Carlos Ruiz fielding a difficult ball in front of the plate, to the hopeful “From his knees…” to the climactic “It’s in time! It’s a no-hitter! Unbelievable!” It’s pure magic. Larry Andersen clapping his hands and subtle chuckling in the background just add to the moment. We were all watching greatness, and these two guys were able to describe greatness better than anyone else.
36. Jim Thome’s second deck homer at the Vet on National television
Jon Miller has always been one of great baseball broadcasters. Fans in Baltimore and San Francisco know what I’m talking about. But for those of us who watched Sunday Night Baseball with regularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, we were treated to his play-by-play talents on a national scale.
So, with the Phillies getting some national attention in 2003 and hosting St. Louis on Sunday Night baseball at the Vet, Thome stepped to the plate in a tie game and unloaded on Cardinals starter Brett Tomko.
“That ball. Hit a mile. Headed for the new ballpark. Upper Deck!” What a great call. Joe Morgan’s “Oooh,” on the swing is pretty sweet too. At the conclusion of this game on August 17, the Phillies were 69-54, had won five in a row, and were leading the NL wild card race. There was a real buzz about them.
Sadly, it would be mostly downhill from there. Things would get weird over the next three weeks as the Phillies lost 9-of-10 before getting hot again and winning 9-of-10, but when the chips were down in late September, the Phillies lost six straight, including being swept by the Florida Marlins, in the final week of the season, to be eliminated from playoff contention.
Those Marlins, who sneaked in past the Phillies for the wild card spot, went on to win the World Series. Crazy.
35. Brett Myers strike out to clinch the 2007 National League East
What made this Sunday (September 30, 2007) fun was the collapse of the Mets as much as the surge by the Phillies. I was in attendance for this one too, purchasing standing room only tickets in the hopes that the Mets would somehow falter at home to the Marlins despite Tom Glavine pitching.
When the Marlins pummeled him in the first inning and we saw an 8-0 score on the scoreboard, Citizens Bank Park was electric from the first pitch.
So, by the time it got to Myers, the celebration had all but begun. That didn’t stop Harry from making a great call, as the city celebrated it’s first Phillies playoff berth (albeit a very short one) in 14 years.
It’s Harry’s pure joy that makes this one a classic. Imagine having to call 162 games a year for 14 years with either a terrible, last-place caliber team, or teams that choked and fell short repeatedly in September – and then this unexpected surge -overcoming a seven game deficit in 16 days – that made this call special. “Look at the scene on the field. Look at the scene in the stands. This is incredible.” It was for us and it likely was for Harry as well.
34. Gary Matthews crushes the Dodgers soul
We already talked about the 1983 Phillies above. You know the story of the team and how much they struggled against the heavily favored Dodgers in the regular season. But “The Sarge” was having nothing of it in the playoffs.
He hit three homers in four games to win the NLCS MVP award, but none was bigger than this one in Game 4 that all but buried the Dodgers and set off a party in Philadelphia that a month earlier seemed really improbable.
Harry’s call is majestic, of course, but it’s Whitey that makes this call great. He gave his traditional “OOOOH,” not once, not twice, but three times, and better yet, after updating Matthews stats for the playoffs, he gives the line “He stood at the plate and watched it.” Remember, this was in an era when there weren’t really bat flips or showboating home runs. But Sarge was a showman on this night.
33. Cole Hamels goes out with a bang
There are very few players who get the chance to have their final game with the franchise they are known for be something really memorable or special. Ted Williams hitting a home run in his final at bat as a member of the Red Sox, is one that come to mind. Derek Jeter’s walk off single for the Yankees is another. But Hamels final start as a Phillie can not be topped.
On July 25, 2015, Hamels threw a no-hitter. At Wrigley Field. And had it end on a wild play in centerfield involving known circus act Odubel Herrera.
He threw the no hitter, was toasted in the clubhouse by his teammates, and then the next day was traded to the other dugout.
The call is a great one from Tom McCarthy. The line before the final at bat where he perfectly blends Hamels’ nickname (Hollywood) with trying to write a beautiful script was superb. But it’s Herrera’s catch, and how he describes it that makes it a classic.
32. Brett Myers beats the Dodgers in the playoffs… with his bat?
The Phillies were touched by an angel in so many ways in 2008. One could argue that of the five consecutive NL East Division championship teams, that the one that went on to win the World Series ranked fifth.
But sometimes, you need a little unexpected good fortune to go your way, and on Oct. 10, 2008, Brett Myers, dangerous hitter, was part of that amazing run.
All of his hits were great calls on the National level by Joe Buck, but in particular, his second hit, the one which drove in two runs, was the one that Buck nailed brilliantly.
“He doesn’t know how he’s doing it, he’s just doing it.” Awesome line. But Tim McCarver describing Myers hitting himself in the head, adjusting his helmet, saying he’s not used to being on base this much, and then laughing at Myers describing his swings in the dugout saying, “Just close your eyes and hack,” makes this call a gem.
31. Roy Halladay is perfect
Another personal story for this one. I didn’t see one pitch of this game. Why? Because on May 29, 2010, I was sitting in the United Center in Chicago watching Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Flyers and the Blackhawks.
Sitting next to me was my sports editor at the Delaware County Daily Times, Rob Parent, who was doubling as a sidebar writer along with me as the beat guy and Jack McCaffrey as the columnist covering the Stanley Cup.
Being a baseball guy, I had the gamecast up on my computer, and as Halladay got into the fifth inning, I pointed it out to Rob. He was skeptical at first. Saying it was too early for us to worry about it. Once he was through seven, we were huddling – what goes on the back page? Should we scrap his sidebar and devote extra coverage to Halladay? What was more important, a Memorial Day baseball game in Florida in front of 300 people (I jest… more like 600). Or, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final featuring the home team? It was a tough call.
We decided on, A split back page if the perfecto, or even a good, old fashioned no-no happened and the Flyers also won. However, if the Flyers lost, Doc had the page to himself.
And that’s exactly what happened. It was the right call by Rob. Speaking of calls, McCarthy’s call of the final out was excellent, but I gotta give this one to Franzke, who was, like Doc, perfect.
Check back tomorrow for No. 21-30.