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A Flying Start
Tim Kurkjian
May 10, 1993
The wild and crazy Phillies have gotten the jump on the rest of the National League East
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May 10, 1993

A Flying Start

The wild and crazy Phillies have gotten the jump on the rest of the National League East

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Then there was the April 29 game in San Diego. The Phillies led 5-3 in the eighth. With two outs and the bases loaded, Padre catcher Bob Geren hit a blast to left center off West. But Thompson reached above the fence to take away a grand slam and save the victory for Philadelphia. Says Thompson, "I thought after the play, We have to be destined to win this year."

Destiny showed up the next night in Los Angeles. The Phillies took a 7-5 lead into the ninth, thanks to Daulton's two-run homer in the eighth. Williams, however, suddenly found himself in an impossible jam: bases loaded, none out and one run already in. Mike Sharperson of the Dodgers hit a bullet that seemed headed for centerfield and a certain Dodger win. But second baseman Mickey Morandini made a diving catch and stepped on second for a double play. Brett Butler then grounded out to end the game.

"I didn't get anyone out, and we won," an incredulous Williams said. "I did everything I could to lose, and we won. I didn't close the door, I had it spinning. Emotionally, you can't beat our team." Mulholland shook his head and said, "Watching Mitch save a game is like watching a stunt pilot land a jet airliner. He does a few loop-the-loops just to entertain the passengers."

The actual pilot of these Phillies is 51-year-old Jim Fregosi, who deserves credit for not restraining the Phillies' diverse personalities and thus for not restraining their play on the field. He even plays cards with them. Here are seven of Fregosi's wilder jokers:

Krukie. "A baseball player in a plumber's body," says Andersen. "He's John Goodman Jr. He's the Babe. He's King Ralph." Kruk, 32, is 5'10", weighs 214 pounds and doesn't care that he's overweight. He doesn't care what he says or what others say about him. On newly acquired pitcher Mark Davis: "He'll have fun, or we'll kill him." On Williams: "He's screwed up, and when I say he's screwed up, he's screwed up. If I ever have a heart attack, I'm sending him the medical bills." On June 3, 1989, the Padres shipped Kruk and infielder Randy Ready to Philadelphia for Chris James. It was a terrible trade for San Diego. Kruk has batted .309 as a Phillie, including .323 last year, to raise his career average to .298. As of Sunday he was hitting .342 with five homers and 16 RBIs.

Wild Thing. Williams has WILD THING and a cartoon Tasmanian Devil tattooed on his right shoulder, although it should be on his left side because of the havoc caused by that arm. The Chicago Cubs, who had grown tired of his wildness, traded him to Philadelphia on April 7, 1991, for relievers Chuck McElroy and Bob Scanlan.

He has saved 69 games for the Phillies since then, despite nightly high-wire acts that cause internal damage to his teammates and, especially, Fregosi. "Mitch doesn't have ulcers," says Fregosi. "He's just a carrier."

Mikey. That's Hollins, and that moniker is not just a nickname. It's his alter ego. "Most of the day he's Dave Hollins," says Williams, "but about an hour before game time, he becomes Mikey, the most intense man on the face of the earth. He scares me. We've learned to just get out of his way." Says Incaviglia, "He'd cut his finger off to win a game."

Hollins recently bought a dog. "Can you imagine that?" Kruk says. "Dog's got no chance. One 0 for 4, and it's dead." But according to Hollins, the dog is safe. "He even made it through our last home stand," says Hollins, who made three errors in one game during that stand.

There won't be many Ofers or bad fielding nights this year for Hollins, 26, who has established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball. The Padres left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft in December 1989, and Philadelphia paid San Diego $50,000 for him- quite a bargain for a player who last season hit 27 home runs and drove in 93 runs. As of Sunday he led the Phillies with 18 RBIs.

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