Friday, April 27, 2012

Beer and Loading- The College Years Part II


It was the last night out in Orlando for the team my junior year and we went to a club called Barbarella's. We started off at a place called Jungle Jim's where we asked what their strongest drink was..The Tarantula! Ok, bring us each one and me and John two! We were leaving for the 18 hour trip back to Philly at 8am the next morning, but threw caution to the wind and Tarantulas down our throats. After pre-loading at Jungle Jim's, it was time to head over 10-15 deep to Barbarella's.

Now we had one black player on the team, who basically upon entering, was grabbed by a blonde female and they proceeded to cut a rug. I knew this was going to be trouble when I saw Mike, who was a bad load, approach Eric. This is how the conversation went: "Yooo Eric, why you messing with the nice looking white girls? I thought you brotha's like the white girls with the fat asses. I mean I am cool with that, because you can take the big ones off our hands. I don't mess with big bitches.", Mike said. Eric responded a simple "Ok Mike." This witty back and forth send the Civil Rights movement back roughly 40 years.

The remainder of the night was a normal night out at a bar. Talking shit to each other and girls, cutting rugs, and oh yea...boozing hard. The one thing that was not normal was my roommate was MIA. This could not be good. So I started looking for John..and what was this..John was MACKING a girl. This was unheard of. John's favorite quote was, "Let's just go out and drink some beers and have a good time." He was just a cool and laid back guy that just loved beers and smogs (cigarettes). I was happy for him, so I let him be. He came and sought me out towards the end of the night with a happy look on his face, but I knew he wanted to ask me something.

"Chris, this girl wants me to go back to her place. I know we leave tomorrow and I don't to go alone", John said. I knew this was a recipe for disaster. I made it known that we had to leave her house early because Flynn, our coach, was a dick and he would leave us down there. I also made it known that I don't want any of her friends to come over and I would have to entertain them, etc. Our teammate, Paul, overheard us talking and he wanted in too. So the three of us leave the club and grab a cab to this girls house. As we pulled up, it was a real nice house, with an indoor pool.

As we walked in, John was immediately taken into another room to handle business. Oh, fuck. Two of her friends were there and looked ready to mingle. Paul saddled over on the one couch and I on the other. The girls introduced themselves and I gave a fake name. First name I gave as Chris, but I used an alias for the last name. I didn't want these girls knowing my name and Facebooking me..Oh, Facebook wasn't out for another 10 years. Ok. The girls were real polite and I was not happy being there and I was in full BLM (bad load mode). The one next to me asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink. Is she serious???

So I said, "Yeah honey, get me two beer and two 'sammiches' put mayo on one side of bread and mustard on the other...and make it snappy". This girl had zero self respect because she actually did it. So I guzzled down like 4-10 more beers, meanwhile Paul and this other girl look like two carp going for the same piece of corn in a pond. I was revolted and scared to shit that this girl next to me was going to try. So she is kinda rubbing against me, cuddling (whatever that is), and I pulled the dick move. I looked her straight in the eye and said " Baby you are a bit too big to share this couch with me". Tears came a-streaming and she was OUTTA THERE! Funny thing is was that she was normal to thin, I just wanted no parts and to be left alone.

Hmm..what do I do now? I have an idea. Let me see if I can find anything in her kitchen closet to fire in the pool. That's right boys and girls. Spring break time is also Easter time...and that meant Paas dye and food coloring. I dumped every single tablet and drop of dye in the pool and sat back and waited...and waited. I fell asleep and woke up to a Kool Aid purple pool. It was glorious. As I walked back in to the living room, I noticed family pictures on the wall. Oh great, her Dad looks to be a biker. Yay me!

530 am rolls around and I am up and knocking on the bedroom door for John to come out and let's go. Laid back John wanted 5 more minutes, so I obliged. I went to knock again and no answer this time, so I said if he wasn't out here in two minutes, Paul and I were leaving. John didn't come out, so I bid him farewell, took this broad's car keys, told Paul to hop in and let's roll. Few major issues: I had no idea where I was, this was before GPS so I had to find out how to get myself on I-4, I left my boy, and the girls dad was a biker.

I got us back onto I-4 and at the hotel at roughly 7am. Parked the car, put the keys in the visor, and went up to pack my suitcase for the ride home. John rolled in at maybe 7:45am, telling me the girls dad drove him here and he wanted to kick my ass/arrest me/etc.I asked John if the girl was with them and he said no. I knew then that I was getting away with this. John or Paul would never dime me out to this angry biker. It never even came to that. I saw the Dad looking for the keys in his daughters' car that I "borrowed" when we were about to pull away. Hope he enjoyed the Purple Passion pool as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beer and Loading - The College Years Part I



“Get the hell off the scaffolding asshole!!!” , the bouncer shouted at Bill as he attempting to climb the stage of the wet T-Shirt contest at a club in Daytona, Florida circa 1993. The drink of choice was Rumple Minze and the song we heard most was “Cotton-Eye Joe” by Rednex. Almost the entire Textile baseball team went on the Load trip to Daytona one night. I was a freshman in college, surrounded by drunks, miscreants, cleat-chasers, and bad loads.

We were rounding up the guys to leave in our 2 maroon colored Ram Vans, ready to head back west into Kissimmee, when Bill was nowhere to be found. A quick glance at the light scaffolding and we saw him climbing it again for a better view. The bouncers had had enough and he was on his way out of the club the hard way. John was walking out with us as well when someone got a bit too close to him and he punched this guy in the face. John threw about 94 mph, so that fist did quite a bit of damage. Now John and Bill were gripped up by security and taken into custody of the club. This is where Joe and I thought quickly and sprang into action.

We were all wearing our maroon and black Textile baseball hats with the big white T…very similar to Temple’s colors…yea that’s it..we went to Temple! Joe and I went into the office and talked security into releasing these two Temple teammates to us and we assured them we would be vacating Daytona. They bought it and escorted the four of us into the parking lot. Now Bill was mumbling that he left his baseball glove in the club and he HAD to go back in for it. Bill would have said anything at that time to go back in because he wanted beers and tits. We got him the hell into the van and headed out onto I-4 back to our hotel.

I was riding shotgun and Joe was driving the lead van when the back doors flew open and two freshman, both named Bob, started firing our yellow batting practice balls at signs and the other van….at roughly 65 mph on the highway. Luckily there were only about 40 balls, so the projectiles only took about two minutes to deplete. We tried to stop it, kinda, but there is nothing more sad and depraved than a team of baseball players in the depths of a beer and Rumple Minze binge.

We had to stop for gas (and beers) before we got to the hotel. This is where John saw his own shadow in the Ram Van window and punched it out. We were all bad loads, but John was the king. Now this window was one of those back windows that only popped open…naturally I was worried about more projectiles. Bill had procured a 40 ounce of Crazy Horse that he masterfully chugged by the time we hit 65 on I-4. It was about 10 minutes later that he was sticking his head out of the window John just busted, puking his guts onto the side of the van and highway.

Now being a starting pitcher, and a load, was a terrible combination because we knew after the day we pitched, we had 3-4 days to be complete loads. Bill miscalculated his dates apparently and was scheduled to pitch the opening game of a DH that next day. A game that was an hour away and started at 9am. So that meant we would have to be in the vans at YIKES 7am. Crap, what would we tell the coach about the window…the roughly 30 empty can. Bottles, and jugs strewn about the van floor?  Well uh ya see Coach..ummm a bunch of bums musta broke the window and then partied in the van. No, that wouldn’t work. We would just hide that van and hope he didn’t see it and then get the window fixed after the game! Bingo.

Bill did his best Mickey Mantle impersonation and pitched a GEM. He was still drunk, saw three catchers mitts, but luckily did not leave his glove in the club. It was customary for our head coach to head out to a grocery store between games to get lunchmeat, rolls, and drinks for the team to eat. So it really wasn’t a surprise to use when he stepped out of the van and called us over. He was holding 4 grocery bags. Sweet!

As we sat down, the coach dumped the bags on the ground in front of us. The crash of bottles and the clang of cans lay before us. This is when coach went into his now famous spring training soliloquy. “ I have pissed more blood, banged more quaff, and could drink a keg of beer, yet show some discretion. I know all of you are going to have a few drinks, but littering the van with them was careless. Also, always ask for a girls ID before felattio, I had a player brought up on charges all because of a stiff penis.” Now he can’t say that and not expect us to start roaring. He got more and more pissed until he picked me and asked me to stick my head in the van and tell me what I smelled. I said “it smells April fresh Coach.” The coach replied’ “It smells like a FUCKING BREWERY in the van!!. Tim, what is on the outside of the van?”. Time told coach that it looked like Bill’s insides. Coach went on to tell us basically exactly how the window was broke. “Some bad load got too liquored up and punched it. Don’t give me this story of bums breaking into the van.” Ouch.

We went on to win the second game of the DH and were given strict rules not to go to the hotel open bar happy hour in our unis. So as we got back to the hotel and unloaded our gear, each and every one of us were simultaneously peeling off our uniform tops and bottoms so we could abide by the coach’s rules, but not miss a second of happy hour.

I have four more years of good/bad stories like this of my college baseball career. I changed everyone’s names that were involved, but if you are reading this and you were there, you know who you are!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Now who’s, I say who’s responsible for this loss last night?


A terrible Phillies loss combined with a disgrace of a hockey game....pass the Jameson, HM!
One play sticks in my mind from last night's game that has really been bother me. With one out in the 11th inning and Carlos Ruiz on 3rd, Uncle Charlie opted to send out Thome to pinch hit. Everyone knew Thome was going to strike out. Everyone except for Uncle Charlie, who stuck with his good 'ol boy Thome. The right move was to pinch hit Polanco in that spot. Polanco is no longer a great hitter, but he puts the ball in play. That's pretty much all the Phillies needed in the spot.

Manuel has been known as a player's coach, but I think with this team, it is something that is backfiring on him. There is a reason the Twins and White Sox let Thome go...he is no longer good. Sending a guy up to pinch hit who has struck out six times in 12 ABs is poor managing. In comparison, Polanco has struck out 6 times in 29 ABs this season.

Manuel was blessed with a very talented team for most of his career here and with the Indians. Point to a time where he made a shrewd or smart move. I have watched 95% of the games during his tenure here and I cannot recall one. He is good when the players are good and he just lets them play. For this team right now, he needs to manage, and quite honestly he is horrible. He has had no practice at managing. For years he just wrote in the same lineup game after game and now when he needs to be strategic and bargain for runs, he has failed.

Lee was magnificent. It is disgusting to me that he did not get a win. 10 scoreless innings! This has not been done by a Phillie since Terry Mulholland on May 8, 1993, against St. Louis. Lee did not throw his 100th pitch until there were two outs in the 10th. That in itself is amazing. Cain was just as good however, but with this Phillies lineup, a mediocre pitcher can look like a Cy Young candidate. So the Phils move on to play the Padres, the only team that may be more anemic than the Phils right now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Take

Placido Polanco should be hitting 7th or 8th. Dude is swinging a terrible stick at .179 and has 1 extra-base hit and 8 total bases. Slide him down in the order until he gets more consistent. He's got an excellent glove.

John Mayberry, Jr. stinks. But he's tall. Most first basemen are tall. So put him out there against left-handers. Wait. What? His at-bat last night with the bases juiced and no outs was a disgrace. He stepped up and started hacking away until he popped out to first base. Big and strong, multi-tool player. Sure. All that stuff. He's hitting .219 with 9 k's. C'mon Charlie. Get Wiggy with it! Na, na...sorry....

Joe Blanton is 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA. The "innings eater" is averaging over 4 per appearance, which includes 2 starts and one out of the 'pen. He's not walking anyone (just one so far, which is terrific) but he's given up 16 hits and opposing batters are hitting .308 off Fat Joe. Any chance Kyle Kendrick could get a few starts? Every time I see him out there, he looks pretty solid. Now that I've said that, he'll surrender a Nowaczyk- Hamels-like beach ball next time out. (Sorry, BL. Chalie made me do it.)

Hunter Pence, J-Roll, Shane Victorino, and Chooch all have double-digit hits and are batting over .300. It's a bit disturbing that they've combined for just 10 extra-base hits thus far. But they're all getting on, led by Pence's .394 OBP.

Freddie Galvis (GAL-vis) is filling in nicely for Chase. Despite a scant .229 batting average, he's only made one error at second base. He is a shortstop playing out of position. Fact is, he's never shown to be a great hitter. Serviceable is more like it. But he's 22 and doing what has been asked of him. At 22, I was getting high and, well, that's about it.

The team has five wins and Roy Halladay has three; Doc is 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA. The rest of the staff looks extremely human, although Cole Hamels has struck out 19 in only 12 innings. Jonathan Papelbon is crazy-hype (go, 1997). With the exception of a home run he gave up in a game he in which shouldn't have pitched, he is doing what he was brought here to do. Three saves in three chances and that HR is the only run he's surrendered.

So, what does all this amount to? A 5-6 record in mid-April. It's neither 2008 nor 2011. (I'm a college graduate; I know what year it is.) This season is going to have some nail-biting stretches. There will be no running away with the NL East. The Phils, and---by extension---we fans, are in for an exciting year.

Three Bold Predictions:
  • Cliff Lee gets traded for a bat. Solves a few issues. Adds offense and frees up cash for Hamels.
  • The NL East will resemble a clusterfuck until mid-August. Then the chaffe will be separated from the grain and we'll be spared all the "Are the Phils done?" and "Are the (insert shitty other team name here) for real?" talk. Quick answer: No. They're all frauds.
  • Dom Brown will be called up. Then he'll suck. Then they'll sell him for a bottle of Gatorade which may or mat not contain piss.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This Gatorade tastes like piss....


This recent story made me remember something that happened to me while playing college baseball. A Dwyer baseball player faces discipline after it was discovered he covered the visiting dugout, later occupied by inter-city rival Palm Beach Gardens, with urine before the teams played a key district game at Dwyer High on Friday night.

A bit of background is needed. We had a bat boy who was actually in his 30s circa 1995. He was my bat boy at Roman Catholic and Textile was right up the road from my home field in high school, so I guess Charlie Hart made the trek with me. Charlie is a good dude who is a little off. Ok, at times he is ALOT off. One time at Roman he got pissed off at us and "gave away" our signs to St. Joe's Prep. The team found out about it and we marched him out to center at Boyce Field and court-martialed his ass. Code Red style.

So Charlie got angry with us again at Textile and after we laid a beating on West Chester University, he went over and told the coach we pissed in their Gatorade. It was customary for the home team to provide the visitors with water or Gatorade, so it was in fact given to WCU by Textile. The next day at practice the Athletic Director called all seniors into his office and accused of the act. There was no judge and jury. His question was which one of you fucking animals pissed in the Gatorade? At the time, we did not even know Charlie told this story...so we were ambushed...but being assholes..we all laughed in his face. The AD then went around the room of 6 seniors and pointed out all the indiscretions he knew about us. Player A - breaking and saving the parking arms. Player B- uncountable alcohol offenses. Player C - he had to come out of a game once because his house arrest ankle bracelet went off. Player D - stealing the Ram Van for a beer run. Player E -  Lower GPA than ERA. He got to me and said, "Chris, you need to step up and tell the truth here. You aren't like these guys." That made all the other 5 guys laugh and say I was the worst of the them, but smart enough not to get caught. I liked that..and was really glad they didn't tell the AD I was the reason the call boxes were ripped off the dorms and were now safely under my bed.

I told the AD that it was nonsense and we weren't listening to any more of this. We were leaving. To be completely honest, I do not know for sure if someone did piss in the Gatorade..but I would also never tell if I knew.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gear Up. Warm Up. Light Up. Drink Up.



1. So, how long have you been writing Phillies commercials?
I started in 2003, the year before they moved to Citizens Bank Park.
2. Are we to deduce that all the sell-outs of recent years can be attributed to you?
Of course! Also, I invented the internet.
3.  Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: you must have worked with a lot of the players and personalities over the years. Who don’t you like?
Aw man, you went there right away?  No warm up?
4.  Okay, we’ll start with warm & fuzzies then.  Who’s your favorite player to work with?
Well, Jimmy Rollins is probably the sweetest, and most fun to deal with.  But I have a soft spot in my heart for a lot of others, too, for various reasons.
5.  Like what reasons?  Like they smell good or they flirt with you?
Please, I’m like, their mother.  Or their bossy big sister, at least.  I have really enjoyed working with the ones who are funny, who have great comedic timing. Chase Utley is very funny.  So was Jamie Moyer.  Ryan Howard is witty --- he has lots of ideas. And my producer and I used to say that Mike Leiberthal and Randy Wolf should shoot a buddy comedy film.
6.  Like a road trip?
Very funny. 
7.  Well, I heard you like funny.  Okay, so what players aren’t funny?
Pat Burrell was not funny. 
8.  I thought all women loved Pat Burrell.
No comment.
9.  So, do you have locker room access?  Have you seen anyone naked?
I’ve seen Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino in their underwear. Probably others, too, I just can’t remember.  I’ve seen everyone without a shirt.
10.  Ah, yet you remember Cole & Shane?  Why?
Well, they’re both really nice.
11. Seriously?
Yes, why is that so hard for you to believe? 
12.  You remember them half-naked because they are nice?
Yes!  I’m all about nice.
12.  Okay, well, that probably explains why your first campaign for Citizens Bank Park had the players skipping and rolling in the grass.
That was not easy, getting people like Brett Myers to skip and sniff flowers, let me tell you.
13.  Was that the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do for The Phillies?
No, that was probably editing footage of Aaron Rowand running into the wall and breaking his nose.  Over and over, back and forth, going to the music.  I almost threw up.  And then there was a commercial where I tried to convince Vukovich, rest his soul, to say a line about being “in touch with his feminine side.”
14.  Did you succeed?
No.
15.  One last question, Kelly.  Can you get me tickets?
No.
Thank you for nothing! 

 Here is the link to the new Phillies 2012 commercials, if you haven’t already seen them:  http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?topic_id=26956682&c_id=phi
In addition to writing commercials, Kelly is a novelist with Simon & Schuster, so go buy for that book club we know you’ve been planning to start. 
Or check out her blogs at http://www.kellyasimmons.blogspot.com  or http://www.verysincerely.com if you like girly things.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To Joe Blanton: Made with Love and Bacon


I used to just have a thing for a stocky fella in a nice stirrup sock. But ya know what?
The dude is a pitcher who hit a home run in the World Series. That’s an elite group and no one new had joined in over 30 years. He was the first Phillies pitcher to have ever done it. Just saying it warrants a little respect.

Now, I don’t wanna get all Robin Roberts on you guys… (as in the lovely host of Good Morning America/ former ESPN broadcaster who my dad says “really knows her shit for a female sports reporter” -- not the greatest Phils pitcher of all time)… BUT that is kind of a cool thing, yes?

He could have SUCKED for the rest of his career (maybe elsewhere woulda been cool) but Joe Blanton will always be alright in my book.

OF COURSE I am psyched for the Phils’ first series win of the season! We needed our friggin mojo back. But I might specifically be a lil bit happy for my man-- my broseph.

I just keep thinking back to last year. There he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated with Perfect Roy, Gosh Golly Roy, Pretty Cole, and Cool Cliff--- as the awkward afterthought. As if he photo-bombed the picture himself and we all knew it and were amused as hell.

So I have a little place in my heart for the husky guy in the background; always.

Though he’s not so husky anymore. In fact, does anyone else think he looks a bit gaunt? I kind of want to make him something with bacon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Past Phillie: Steve Jeltz

Yes, at long last it's the Random Past Phillie many of you have been waiting for. Shout out to all of you who requested him!

Name
: Larry Steven Jeltz
Position: Infielder
Born: May 28, 1959 in Paris, France
Acquired: Selected in the 9th round of the 1980 Draft
Phillies Debut: July 17, 1983
Final Phillies Game: October 1, 1989
Uniform Numbers: 15, 30
Career Elsewhere: Royals (1990)

About Steve Jeltz: Regardless of how successfully or unsuccessfully a sports franchise has performed during a given period of time, there always seems to be one player who is perceived to be the "face" of the franchise. Generally, the team's best player assumes this role, as he's the guy the organization wants to market and build around. There are times when designating such a player isn't so clear-cut, though, and it could be years after the fact when such a player actually emerges. Considering the vast majority of his Philadelphia Phillies career was played alongside Mike Schmidt, one could never say that Steve Jeltz was truly the face of the organization. However, in the nearly quarter-century that has passed since he last donned a Phillies uniform, the light-hitting Jeltz has become sort of a mythical figure among a certain segment of the team's fans. From the Jheri curl hairstyle to the low batting averages (featuring a power outage that lasted the better part of five years), Jeltz has become somewhat representative of a time when the Phillies as a team were going nowhere fast, with little hope of better days ahead.

Born in Paris, France while his father was stationed there with the U.S. Army, Steve Jeltz grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and eventually attended the University of Kansas. After his junior year with the Jayhawks, Jeltz was selected by the Phillies in the ninth round of the 1980 Draft. He signed with the organization soon thereafter and hit .290 in 31 games for mid "A" level Spartanburg. Jeltz's average would dip to .232 and .242 over the next two seasons at high "A" Penninsula and "AA" Reading, respectively. He saw action at second base, third base, shortstop, and the outfield, and it was pretty clear that defense was going to be what got Jeltz to the big leagues. Promoted to "AAA" Portland for the 1983 season, he hit .265 and got his first taste Major League Baseball when he was called up to the parent club in mid-July.

Steve Jeltz made his MLB debut on July 17, 1983, appearing as a late-game defensive replacement at second base in a 5-2 Phillies loss to to the Cincinnati Reds at Veterans Stadium. He'd make three more appearances during his initial callup, with his lone at-bat being a groundout against the Atlanta Braves on July 24. Jeltz would appear in a total of 13 games over three stints for the eventual National League Champion Phillies in '83, collecting one hit in eight at-bats, an RBI triple off Jerry Reuss of the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 28.

Jeltz returned to Portland for the 1984 campaign, where he hit .220 in 134 games. He was recalled to the big club in September and became the starting shortstop for the Phils in that season's final month, hitting .206 in 28 games. On September 23, he hit his first career home run, a solo shot off John Tudor of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Defensively, Jeltz made just one error and it was decided that he'd remain the starting shortstop as the 1985 season got underway. Things couldn't have started more poorly for Jeltz or the Phillies, as he made three errors in a 6-0 Opening Night loss to the Braves en route to a 1-8 start for the team. It proved to be a harbinger of things to come for the '85 Phils, who suffered their first losing season since 1974 with a record of 75-87. Meanwhile, Jeltz remained the starter at short for the bulk of the season, but was finally sent back to Portland in early August. He'd be recalled in September, but ended the year with a .189 batting average and 14 errors in 89 games.

Using his poor 1985 season as motivation, Jeltz (a natural righthanded batter) decided to take up switch-hitting in an attempt to regain favor with an organization that appeared to be souring on him. For much of Spring Training in 1986, though, it didn't seem as it would make a difference, as the organization had decided Jeltz would start the year back in the minors with Tom Foley penciled in at shortstop. A broken wrist sustained by Foley late in the Grapefruit League schedule nixed those plans, and it was decided that Jeltz would be given another shot. He'd hang on to the starting job all season long, despite hitting .219 and making 22 errors in 145 games.

Jeltz was again the Opening Day starter at shortstop for the Phillies in 1987, and while his defense had steadied, his .179 average got him demoted to "AAA" Maine on June 22. It seemed to do the trick, as he was recalled a month later and brought his average up to .232 by season's end. His .971 fielding percentage was fifth among National League shortstops in '87, while his .976 clip placed him fourth the following year. Unfortunately, whatever momentum Jeltz gained at the plate after his 1987 recall was lost in 1988, as he batted a paltry .187 in what turned out to be a career-high 148 games. That was enough for the Phillies to give up on Jeltz as a starter once and for all, as Dickie Thon was signed to be the club's shortstop for 1989. Jeltz stayed with the Phils in a utility role, and what turned out to be his final season with the Phils was ironically his most productive. He hit .243 in 116 games, but the biggest story was the fact that he clubbed four home runs after going nearly five years without hitting any. The first came on May 21 at the Vet, a two-run shot off Walt Terrell of the San Diego Padres that broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. The next two homers, however, were the ones for which Jeltz is best remembered.

On June 8, 1989, the Phillies took on the Pirates at the Vet. Heading in, it was a seemingly nondescript matchup between the two teams at the bottom of the NL East standings. Two nights earlier, the Phils had snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 9-4 victory and were going for a sweep of the rain-shortened three-game series. The Pirates had something to say about that, though, as they went on a 10-run rampage in the top of the first. Two-run homers by Von Hayes off ex-Phillie Bob Walk in the first and third innings cut the deficit to 10-4. Jeltz (who entered the game in the second inning to replace Tom Herr at second base) waited only 18 days between home runs this time around, as his two-run roundtripper off the righty Walk in the fourth brought the Phils to within 10-6. Pittsburgh added a run in the fifth, but with two on and one out in the sixth, Jeltz sent a drive off lefty Bob Kipper over the wall in left-center for a three-run homer to make it an 11-9 game. In doing so, Jeltz became the first switch-hitter in Phillies history to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game (Tomas Perez became the second Phil to do it on July 24, 2001, while Jimmy Rollins achieved the feat on August 12, 2006 and again on July 20, 2011). Ricky Jordan added an RBI single in the sixth to make it 11-10 and the Phils completed their comeback with five runs in the eighth to post the final winning margin of 15-11. While his team was jumping out to what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Buccos broadcaster Jim Rooker said on the air that if the Pirates ended up losing the game, he'd walk back to Pittsburgh. He didn't do it immediately after the game, but Rooker kept his word during the offseason and completed a walk from Veterans Stadium to Three Rivers Stadium with proceeds going to charity.

The June 8 game was no doubt Jeltz's finest hour as a Major League Baseball player. It also sent him on a hot streak of sorts, as he was hitting .246 prior to that night and raised his average to .294 by the Fourth of July before a late slump pushed his final mark down to .243. Jeltz hit one more home run, a solo shot off Scott Sanderson of the Chicago Cubs on August 12. Despite having his best season to date, Jeltz found himself fighting for a job during Spring Training in 1990. The Phillies ultimately decided to carry Rod Booker as their utility infielder, making Jeltz the odd man out. On March 31, 1990, the Steve Jeltz era officially ended, as he was traded to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for promising but erratic righthanded pitcher Jose DeJesus. Jeltz appeared in 74 games for the Royals in '90, but hit just .155 in what would be his last MLB season. He split the 1991 campaign between the organizations of the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, hitting just .188 in his final year as a pro.

Personal Recollection: Wow, where to begin... I've noted on here before that I first started to closely follow the Phillies during the 1987 season. I turned seven that summer and it was also my first year playing t-ball, so I started to develop an understanding of the game. Needless to say, this was right smack dab in the middle of the Steve Jeltz era. I guess I remember him the same way as many other Phillies fans my age do, as a guy who seemed decent enough in the field but just didn't hit nearly well enough to justify holding on to a starting spot as long as he did. The reality of the situation, of course, was the fact that there weren't any viable replacements in the organization. I kind of felt sorry for the guy. It wasn't like Jeltz wasn't trying out there, he just wasn't a good hitter.

Jeltz could be flashy in the field at times, though. In fact, I remember playing in a game one time during my first year in a live pitching league. I was playing shortstop and made a leaping grab on a line drive. When I got back to the bench, someone told me I looked like Steve Jeltz out there. It was meant as a compliment, I think.

You can probably gather that there weren't too many games I attended where Jeltz had a significant impact with the bat, though I do remember being at a game against the Cardinals late in the 1987 season that Jeltz won with a walkoff RBI triple in the 14th inning. He hit a drive to right that John Morris tried to make a leaping catch on, but was unable to and injured himself crashing into the fence, allowing Glenn Wilson to score the winning run in an 8-7 victory. St. Louis had taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the 14th, but another much-maligned Phillie, Lance Parrish tied it with a home run in the bottom of the inning.

I was also at the game in which Jeltz hit his first home run since 1984, a Sunday afternoon at the Vet. There was definitely a sense of disbelief at the Vet that day. Forgotten in all that pandemonium was the fact that Jeltz (batting leadoff that day) very nearly hit two home runs in the game, as he flied out to the wall in right-center his first time up. I can't recall the entire Harry Kalas call of that homer, but I do remember the standard, "It's got a chance...OUTTA HERE! HOME RUN, THE JET!" That was Harry's nickname for Jeltz. I'm not sure why he called him that. He did have decent speed, and maybe it had to do with his last name.

As if that wasn't surreal enough, there was the two-homer game against the Pirates. I missed his first home run, I believe because I had a game of my own that night. But I did hear the second one on the radio (as I've mentioned, my family didn't have cable at the time), and it produced one of my favorite Richie Ashburn calls ever: "Fly ball...is it...is it..IS IT? OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! THREE-RUN HOMER STEVE JELTZ! (A few seconds of audible laughing) His second home run of the ballgame! The Phillies now trail, 11-9!" After the game, we learned about the Jim Rooker comment. There was a segment about it on "(Not Necessarily) Another Day at the Yard," which was that season's Home Companion. Rooker, a former pitcher, chimed in with "I wish I was pitching that game. No way would he have hit two home runs. No way. Maybe a couple triples, but not two home runs" and "Steve Jeltz, I hope next year, wherever their AAA club is, you're managing the team!"

Hard as it was to fathom a year or two earlier, I was disappointed when the Phillies traded Jeltz to the Royals before the 1990 season as I felt that he was going to become a valuable utility man. As it was, Jeltz had a disastrous season in Kansas City and it looked like DeJesus was going to be a steal before having his career cut short due to injury.

It's kind of funny how after all these years, Jeltz is kind of looked at in a fond, almost sympathetic way. The success the Phillies have had in recent years has no doubt played a role in that, plus there's always that sense of nostalgia. You can never go wrong with Jheri curls, either, and in Jeltz and Juan Samuel, there was plenty of that in the 1980s middle infield. One year, Jeltz's Donruss card was a misprint and indeed it was Samuel in the picture. In those days, the Phils would sometimes put a player's baseball card on Phanavision when he was at the plate. The Jeltz/Samuel misprint was put up there one time and I remember a fan pointing out the error, to which someone else replied, "Yeah, you can tell it's not Jeltz. The guy on the card is hitting the ball." Ouch. Anyway, I don't know what Steve Jeltz is up to these days, but I'd like to see him come back for Alumni Weekend sometime. I bet he'd hear some applause that he never got during his career.

That's my story on Steve Jeltz. Feel free to share your own recollections. Given the requests to feature Jeltz I've gotten the past couple years, I'll be pretty disappointed if the comments are empty!