The Baseball Desert

Friday, March 09, 2007

The right stuff

Phillies coach John Vukovich passed away yesterday. I never saw him play, and only knew the name from stories told by other players. There's not much you can say to dress up a lifetime .161 average - even if a guy has a great glove - but sometimes it's not just about the stats. You have to respect a player who got a kick out of the things like this:
He made his debut in 1970 and played parts of seven seasons with the Phillies, including the 1980 World Series championship team. He was also a member of the 1975 Reds, who won the World Series that season, and often recalled a story of how he was once pinch-hit for by manager Sparky Anderson in the first inning.

"He loved that story," [Phillies PR manager Greg] Casterioto said.
There will no doubt be tributes from all over baseball, but - in the interest of counter-balancing the "Schilling is a self-promoting blowhard" argument - I wanted to link to the tribute from #38.
There is no doubt in my mind that my career would have been over ten or more years ago without John Vukovich. I often tried to but there was no way I could ever repay him for his commitment to me and the devotion and love he showed me throughout our 15+ years together. John Vukovich was the very person my dad was referring to when he called someone, “good people.” It was the highest compliment my dad could give. John was good people every day of his life, and the game and I will miss him greatly.
There's nothing more to say.