March 30, 1981:
Entering the 1981 season as reigning World Series champions, the Phillies were hesitant to mess with a successful formula, with one notable exception: Greg “The Bull” Luzinski. With the franchise since the 1968 draft, Luzinski had become a fan favorite, displaying considerable power from the right side. By 1980, however, The Bull was struggling offensively and in danger of losing his spot in left field to rookie Lonnie Smith. Rumors of his exit continued throughout the off-season, and intensified once the Phillies traded for outfielder Gary Matthews. A week later, Luzinski’s thirteen year career with the franchise came to an end, sold to the Chicago White Sox for $200,000.
Calling himself “a very emotional person”, Luzinski fought back tears at the press conference announcing the deal and believed he would need time alone to come to terms with the trade. Phillies GM Paul Owens had grown close to his outfielder and described the difficulty of trading someone he had known for thirteen years while promising, “he’ll always be a part of the Phillies family”.
After four successful seasons as the White Sox’s designated hitter, Owens’ words proved prophetic. Shortly after his retirement, Luzinski would re-introduce himself to the Phillies fanbase, frequently appearing in commercials and making appearances at the team’s baseball camps. Luzinski can now be found holding court at his “Bull’s BBQ” food stand, located by the left field gate in Citizens Bank Park.
Photo: George Reynolds
Greg Luzinski at the press conference announcing his trade to the Chicago White Sox
Following in the footsteps of a parent is never easy, especially when your father happens to be a cultural icon. Roberto Clemente Jr. understood this better than most, and in 1984, insisted on pursing a career in baseball on his own terms. After achieving a decent amount of success in his native Puerto Rico, Clemente moved to Florida to attend community college and draw interest from the major leagues.
Receiving little interest from his father’s Pittsburgh Pirates, the eighteen year-old signed with the Phillies and was immediately placed in the Gulf Coast League. Team scouts projected Clemente as a line drive-hitting outfielder that could eventually develop power, but he fell well below these expectations. Struggling mightily in the rookie league, the Phillies assigned the young righty to the non-affiliate Gastonia Jets before releasing him outright in 1985. Clemente would attempt to continue his career in 1986 with the San Diego Padres’ A affiliate, but injuries and a lack of desire temporarily convinced him to set his sights beyond his childhood dream. A final attempt with the Baltimore Orioles organization was made in 1989 before a back injury left Clemente temporarily paralyzed.
Today, Clemente follows his father’s legacy in another field: charity work. Since establishing the Roberto Clemente Foundation in the mid-nineties, the younger Clemente has worked with the RBI Program to bring baseball to the inner cities, namely in Puerto Rico and Pittsburgh. Most recently, Clemente has worked with his siblings on “Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero”, a book chronicling his father’s rise to immortality.
Photo: Bob Bartosz
Roberto Clemente Jr. with the Gulf Coast League Phillies
March 14, 1980:
During his time with the Phillies, Pete Rose claimed the Cincinnati Reds’ resistance to kids in the clubhouse was one of his reasons for leaving. The Phillies’ clubhouse not only welcomed children, but encouraged a family atmosphere, welcoming McGraws, Boones, Luzinskis and Pete Rose Jr. into what became known as “The Kiddie Korps”.
Much like his father, Pete Rose Jr. had little trouble making his presence felt. During his father’s first spring with the Phillies in 1979, the nine year-old walked into manager Danny Ozark’s office and demanded to know if his father had a chance of making the team that year. “Petey” became a regular around the club, and is seen here with his father during an exhibition game against the Tigers.
The younger Rose would go on to enjoy his own lengthy career in baseball, spending a year and a half with the Reading Phillies.
Photo: AP Laserphoto
Pete Rose and his son Petey on the field during a 1980 exhibition.