Samuel named to Phillies' Wall of Fame
Second baseman played in Philadelphia for 6 1/2 seasons
PHILADELPHIA -- Though he played for six other teams after involuntarily leaving the Phillies, Juan Samuel said he always felt like he never left.On a recent road trip through Toronto, the Orioles' third-base coach learned that others never forgot, either. "One of the custom agents saw my passport and said, 'Oh yeah, you played for the Phillies,'" Samuel said with a wide smile, then delivered the punch line. "I said, 'I played for the Blue Jays, too.' People who know me know how much I loved the Phillies and the fans in Philly." The fans in Philadelphia recognized "Sammy" as well, electing him as the 2008 inductee to the team's Phillies Wall of Fame. Samuel will be enshrined as the team's 30th member of the Wall of Fame -- located on Ashburn Alley. He spent five full seasons with Philadelphia (1984-88) and parts of two others. Signed on April 29, 1980, Samuel debuted Aug. 24, 1983. Batting leadoff, he tripled in his second at-bat. The next season, he set the organization's single-season and rookie records with 72 stolen bases on his way to 105 runs scored and 191 hits. He also set modern club records for triples (19) and at-bats (701) in a season. Both marks were broken last season by Jimmy Rollins. Samuel became the first player in Major League history to reach double digits in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in each of his first four seasons. "It's a tremendous honor for me to be a part of the Phillies Wall of Fame with so many greats -- ex-teammates and guys who I saw play when I was in the Minor Leagues who were part of that 1980 [World Series] championship club," Samuel said. "Growing up in the Dominican Republic, and finding myself here now is tremendous." This is the third such honor Samuel earned for a 16-season career that brought 1,578 hits. He is part of the Dominican Republic Hall of Fame and a member of the Reading (Pa.) Hall of Fame, for the 47 games he spent there in 1983. Samuel, 47, will attend the pregame ceremonies for the Aug. 8 game against the Pirates, and all fans will receive a commemorative poster of Samuel, courtesy of Toyota.
A poster seems like the perfect memento, since Samuel cited hitting a game-winning home run on "Juan Samuel Poster Day" as one of his Phillies highlights.Fellow Wall of Famers Robin Roberts (1978), Jim Bunning (1984), Steve Carlton (1989), Mike Schmidt (1990), Dick Allen (1994), Greg Luzinski (1998), Tony Taylor (2002), Bob Boone (2005) and Dallas Green (2006) are expected to attend. Wall of Fame balloting annually begins with online voting on phillies.com during Spring Training. A total of 15 former Phillies are on the ballot. The top five vote-getters are then presented to a special Wall of Fame selection committee that chooses the inductee. The other four finalists this year were Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk and Greg Gross. The announcement comes two days shy of the 19th anniversary of the toughest day of Samuel's career. On June 18, 1989, he was dealt to the Mets for Dykstra and reliever Roger McDowell. In a separate deal, closer Steve Bedrosian was also traded. "I cried," he said. "I didn't see it coming. We were playing the Mets and it was the eighth inning, and I thought Bedrock [closer Steve Bedrosian] should be warming up in the bullpen. I looked up at the Jumbrotron and Bedrock was traded [to the Giants].
"After the game, I got called to go to the manager's office. I thought, 'What did I do?' When they told me, I was shocked, because I loved it there and thought I was going to be there for a long time. From that point on, I was like I'm still going to playing in the Major Leagues, and I'm still going to be playing baseball."Nineteen years later, he'll be immortalized as a Phillie, the team he never wanted to leave.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.