04/29/2010 6:59 PM ET
New book highlights history of Phillies
Fans can check out rare photos, articles and memorabilia
By Ben Platt / MLB.com
It's been a great run for Philadelphia Phillies fans for the past few years, with the team making back-to-back appearances in the World Series and winning it all in 2008. Now fans can remember not only the team's recent success, but they can celebrate the organization's long history through rare photos, articles and memorabilia with the publication of the new book, "Phillies: An Extraordinary Tradition."
The book will be available starting May 7 in bookstores, Citizens Bank Park and in the fan section on Phillies.com
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"The whole idea was to come up with faces and places in Phillies history and capture it," said Larry Shenk, the Phillies' former director of public relations from 1964-2008, who edited the book with Scott Gummer. "I didn't want the book to be a chronological thing, year-by-year, with wins and losses and all that stuff. I wanted something with pictures in it that people had not seen -- I've been around a few decades and I hadn't seen some of these photos before.
Coming in at 252 pages and with well over 400 photos, the book is true eye candy for people from the City of Brotherly Love as well as baseball fans that appreciate the history of a team that was established in 1883.
"I wanted to start out with what Philadelphia was like in 1883," said Shenk, who began the project with Gummer 2 1/2 years ago. "It was hard to find pictures from that far back, but we were able to purchase some from the library company of Philadelphia, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame was a big help with this book and they provided a lot of material that we used."
As they had done two years earlier with "San Francisco Giants: 50 Years," Insight Editions, the publisher of both books, had the team provide special artifacts and memorabilia that is inserted into the book. On page 25 of the Phillies book, readers will find an envelope with copies of the program covers of the 1915 World Series as well as 1938, 1943 and 1946 scorecards. Cards of the paintings that hang in Citizens Bank Park of all the Phillies in the Baseball Hall of Fame dangle out when you open to page 62.
"The inserts are wonderful," said Shenk. "Through collectors and some of our own memorabilia we came up with some wonderful inserts, like a copy of Greg Luzinski's original contract when he broke into professional baseball in Huron, South Dakota, making $500 a month; the scouting report on Jimmy Rollins, when he was an amateur in high school in Oakland, Calif; a World Series ticket from 1964, which, as everyone knows, the Phillies didn't make it too, and so many other things that I think makes the book exceptional, compared to other books."
Shenk and Gummer also would write essays about many of the great players and people around the Phillies over the years. But they also recruited former beat writers like Paul Hagen to write about Robin Roberts and MLB.com's Hal Bodley to write about his old friend Steve Carlton. Hall of Fame pitcher and current U.S. Senator Jim Bunning writes about his years with the Phillies, as does Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, who wrote the book's introduction.
"Mike's introduction was really impressive," said Shenk. "He poured out his soul on what it was like playing here -- how he handled the situation or didn't handle it. He was very honest in what he wrote and he wrote that -- there was no help from us with that."
Shenk hopes that the book resonates with Phillies fans everywhere.
"I hope they have a memory that they didn't have before," said Shenk. "Fans of the Phillies are so passionate and I think this book appeals to their passion."
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.