Baseball has had its history of colorful players. From Eddie Gaedel to Mark Fidrych, there have been players who have brought some laughs to a game that many consider to be boring and as about much fun as watching paint dry. The Philadelphia Phillies have had their share of these players. Here is a review of three of the more memorable ones (one from each decade), and how their antics measured up to their actual performance.
Turk Wendell– Traded to Philadelphia in 2001 from the New York Mets in the hopes of making the playoffs, Turk had many different superstitions that kept the fans amused and wondering what he would do next. As philliesnation.com wrote once, some of his antics included having the umpire roll the ball to him instead of throwing it, waving to the center fielder and not continuing the game until the center fielder waved back, and brushing his teeth in between innings. Although Turk was truly a character on the field with his antics, unfortunately his work performance was not enough to help the Phillies get to where they needed to be.
Wendell’s stats during his time with the Phillies: 2001- 0-2 record, 7.47 ERA, .323 BAA, and a WHIP of 2.11;
2002- on DL; 2003- 3-3 record, 3.38 ERA, .235 BAA, and a WHIP of 1.28
Mitch ‘Wild Thing’ Williams– Mitch did not have many colorful antics on the field. However, he is most remembered for his pitching style. Although Williams had a fastball that was found hard to hit, he threw it with such force that he often came tumbling off the mound and couldn’t get himself in a position to field. Sadly, his time came to an end with the often replayed home run that he gave up to Joe Carter during the 1993 World Series. Mitch never truly recovered from that, being bounced from team to team after that at bat. He was last seen as a coach for the Atlantic City Surf of the Independent League.
Williams’ stats during his time with the Phillies: 1991- 12-5 record, 2.34 ERA, 30 saves, .338 BAA, and a WHIP of 1.34; 1992- 5-8 record, 3.78 ERA, 29 saves,.386 BAA, and a WHIP of 1.64; 1993- 3-7 record, 3.34 ERA, 43 saves, .368 BAA, and a WHIP of 1.61
Frank Edwin “Tug” Mcgraw Jr.- Getting his break in the major leagues with the New York Mets, “Tug” was traded to the Phillies in 1974. During his tenure, he became a very reliable reliever and the Phillies closer. Although he did not have any on field antics like Wendell, “Tug” was well known for his off the field humor. Often the culprit behind shaving cream pies in the face, “Tug” embraced his Irish heritage with his humor and colorful retellings of stories of things happening on the field and in his own personal life. As an example, he once asked pitcher Larry Christenson if he was starting today. Larry said, “Yes “Tug”, I’m playing today.” To which, “Tug” replied, “Well then so am I!”
McGraw’s stats during his time with the Phillies: During his tenure, his ERA ranged normally from 2.50 to 5.16 (during the 1979 season); WHIP ranged from 0.92 to 1.56, and BAA from .250 to .356.
All stats are provided courtesy of MLB.com