01/16/08 1:39 PM ET
Phillies fondly remember Podres
Former pitching coach passed away Sunday at age 75
By Larry Shenk / Philadelphia Phillies
Podres, 75, was Philadelphia's pitching coach from 1991-96. The following year, he began serving as a part-time pitching instructor for the club. He'd spend time every spring, including last March, at the Phillies' Minor League camp at Carpenter Field.
A four-time All-Star, Podres pitched in the Majors for 15 years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres, compiling a lifetime record of 148-116.
"I'd pitch on Sunday, throw again on Tuesday and pitch again on Thursday," Podres said in a Phillies Magazine story last April. "Back then, we threw a lot. We were geared to pitch complete games, not the five innings that seem to be the norm these days."
Podres was MVP of the 1955 World Series, pitching two complete games against the New York Yankees, including the Game 7 clincher, to deliver Brooklyn's only World Series championship.
"Heck, I shut out the Yankees on three days' rest," Podres said in Phillies Magazine. "I threw a lot of changeups [his money pitch], but when the October shadows took over, I went with fastballs. If they can't see it, they can't hit it, right?"
Podres was on the coaching staff when the Phillies won the 1993 National League pennant. He's the third member of that staff to die in the last 11 months, along with John Vukovich and Mel Roberts.
Funeral services weren't finalized as of Monday afternoon.
Phillies president David Montgomery: "Above and beyond his accomplishments on the field, Johnny was so enjoyable to be around. He was a great storyteller. As a baseball man, he was very knowledgeable about the game, especially pitching. He made substantial contributions to the Phillies both on the Major League and Minor League levels. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Joanie, sons Joe and John, and their families."
Phillies chairman Bill Giles: "I loved the guy. He was a true character and great fun to be around. He was a great example of why working in baseball is so enjoyable. He was a great pitching coach and was able to instill confidence in the pitchers he worked with. I do not believe the Phillies would have won the 1993 pennant without Johnny."
Former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling: "Next to the Lord, my father and my wife, no human being ever impacted me the way Johnny did. No one ever cared about me more, or watched out for me as much as he did. There is no doubt in my mind that the career I've been blessed to enjoy is a direct result of this man's commitment to me and to my life. I'll be forever grateful for his love and his friendship and hope that when I've thrown my final pitch, I'll be able to look back on my body of work and it will have been something he was proud of. The thoughts and prayers of my entire family go out to Joanie, the Podres children and the Dodgers organization. The game lost a man that has truly made a difference."
Former Phillies pitcher Larry Andersen: "You would be hard pressed to find a more positive person. He made you feel like you were the best player to ever put on a uniform ... truly! I will really miss him."
Former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams: "He was the best pitching coach I ever had. He was the only one that dealt with the mental side of the game, the most positive person and, again, hands down the best pitching coach I ever pitched for. He will be missed."
Former Phillies manager Larry Bowa: "He was a great pitching coach, got his points across with no pressure. I know I learned a lot from him. He never talked a lot about his career, but when you look at the numbers, he was special. Johnny had the knack of being dead serious about baseball and a minute later, having everyone laughing. He was a very funny man."
Former Phillies first baseman John Kruk: "Johnny made mound visits very interesting. I came in from first base just to listen. We might have had a pitcher on the mound who was getting lit up and Johnny would come out and say, 'You've got great stuff. I don't know how they are hitting you. Just go get them.' Another time he came out, 'Jimmy [Fregosi] is getting [mad] at me because you aren't throwing strikes. You know I don't like it when he gets mad at me. Throw strikes.'"
Phillies pitcher Brett Myers: "He was a very positive guy and a great morale booster for all the pitchers. [At] my first big league camp, he was telling people I should have been in the big leagues then, and I didn't know anything about pitching. Johnny was a good friend and I will miss him."
Former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi: "He was probably the most loveable guy that's ever been in the game of baseball. He was the best pitcher I've ever had on a staff. He was invaluable in 1993 to me and the Phillies. We'll all miss him very, very dearly."
Larry Shenk is vice president, public relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.