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Former Reds Friday – Big Red Reunion in Philly

July 16, 2010

Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan Philadelphia Phillies 1984 Fleer No. 636

The aging 1983 Philadelphia Phillies were know as the Wheez Kids and the Big Gray Machine

Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan Philadelphia Phillies 1984 Fleer No. 636 back

Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan Philadelphia Phillies 1984 Fleer No. 636 back

Six years after the Big Red Machine began to be dismantled, a much older, smaller version of the machine roared back to life in Philadelphia.

Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez reunited as members of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. Rose, 41-years-old at the time,  joined the club as a free agent following the 1979 season. Morgan and Perez were brought in by the Phillies to make another run at the World Series.

Philadelphia was in need of a second baseman after trading Manny Trillo in a five player deal to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Von Hayes. The Phillies traded future Cy Young winner Mark Davis, Mike Krukow and minor leaguer Charles Penigar for Morgan, 39 at the time, and Al Holland.

After Perez, 40-years old at the time, was released by the Boston Red Sox, the Phillies signed him to a one-year contract to provide the club with a much-needed right-handed pinch hitter as well as fill in for Rose at first base.

Once the trio was re-united, it seemed like they were immediately on the same page.

“They kept replaying the ’75 World Series during infield drills,” Phillies third baseman and Dayton native Mike Schmidt told Sports Illustrated. “Perez said they wouldn’t be wearing world champion rings if he hadn’t hit Bill Lee’s let-up pitch out of the park. Morgan said they wouldn’t have rings if he hadn’t had two game-winning hits, and Rose said he hit .370 in the Series.”

Schmidt contributed to the recreation by “rolling his sleeves up to his shoulders and pretending he was Ted Kluszewski, the former Reds slugger and coach.”

The trio had a reinvigorated enthusiasm heading into the season.

On the 100th anniversary of their first game, Perez drove in five runs at Veterans Stadium. During the season, Morgan collected his 2,500th hit and 250th home run, while Rose scored his 2,000th run.

With the Phillies in a close race for the division crown, the former Reds and other aging members of the club started to fade down the stretch. Manager Paul Owens, who replaced the fired Pat Corrales in mid-July patched together an ad hoc team of platooners and hot hands, according to Baseball Reference Bullpen. Only catcher Bo Diaz, shortstop Ivan DeJesus, and third baseman Schmidt played every day. Rose shared first base with Perez and Len Matuszek. Kiko Garcia played second when Morgan couldn’t, and a huge cast of outfielders rotated through Owens’s lineup cards.

The Phillies won 11 in a row in mid-September to run away with the National League Eastern Division, and swept the favored Los Angeles Dodgers in a four-game NLCS.

Philadelphia won the first game of the 1983 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, but then lost the next four games to lose the series.

Following the World Series, the Big Red reunion was over. Perez returned to the Reds. Rose was not far behind Big Doggie. After playing 95 games with the Montreal Expos, Rose was traded to Cincinnati in August 1984 to become the Reds’ player-manager.

Morgan signed with his hometown Oakland A’s for the 1984 season. Playing for his fourth club in five years, Morgan quietly retired on the final day of the season.

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