November 10, 2017
By: Steve Degler

The 2017 season on the field for the Philadelphia Phillies was certainly not the greatest in franchise history. The Phils finished last in National League East with a record of 66-96, 31 games behind the Washington Nationals.

The 2017 season off the field for the club has been much, much worse. The Phillies family has lost several prominent members this year. Guys who made their mark in Philadelphia and will always be remembered.

"Big D" was the first one we lost. Dallas Green died at 82 on March 22. He was the manager when the Phils won their first World Series in 1980. His booming voice seemed to carry for miles and miles. He just had a presence about him. He was a big man with that silver mane. Many nights he would sit right behind home plate to get a good look at some of the pitching prospects in the Philadelphia organization. You couldn't miss him. And now the Phillies and their fans do miss him. Forever a Philly baseball hero for what he did with that team 37 years ago.

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The bad news continued just as the season was getting underway. Ruben Amaro Sr., an infielder for the Phillies in the 1960's, passed away at the age of 81. He and his son, Ruben Jr., were the first father and son to have played for the Phillies. They were joined in that exclusive club this season by Mark Leiter Sr. and Jr. I had the chance to cross paths with Ruben Sr. when he was working for the Phillies. What a wonderful man. He could tell some great stories about his years in the game.

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It was late May when Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning left us at age 85. He will forever be remembered in Philadelphia for his Father's Day perfect game against the New York Mets in 1964. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, besides throwing no-hitters in the American and National leagues, Bunning was also the second pitcher, behind Hall of Famer Cy Young, to win 100 games and collect 1,000 strikeouts in both circuits. He also became a long-time Congressman, serving the state of Kentucky.

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Another icon who died way, way too soon was "Dutch," Darren Daulton. He succumbed to brain cancer in early August at the age of 55. He may have been born in Kansas, but Daulton was Philly through and through. He played hard. He played hurt. And he played with grit. He was the unquestioned leader of the 1993 Phillies team that fell to the Toronto Blue Jays in the World Series. Daulton finally got that elusive ring with the Florida Marlins in 1997. I had heard early this season that Daulton was not doing well. As you would expect from him, he put up a big fight against cancer.

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And then the news late Tuesday afternoon. Roy Halladay, at age 40, dying in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. He spent most of his career with Toronto but made a lasting impression during his four years with the Phillies. A tireless worker, the two-time Cy Young Award winner set a great example for younger pitchers. He tossed a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter in his first season in the red pinstripes. He was a magician on the mound.

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Let's hope for the Phillies and their fans that 2018 is a better season. On and off the field.