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March 23, 2017

Baseball world mourns Dallas Green's passing by sharing great stories of former manager

In Philadelphia, there's one thing on which all sports fans generally agree: Dallas sucks.

But when it comes to the former Phillies manager who bears the same name, Dallas Green, who led the Phillies to their first World Series title in 1980 and passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82, there's a similar level of consensus. 

Except instead of the hate and disgust generated by the Cowboys, there's nothing but love and respect. Fans, former players, broadcasters, basically anyone who has ever come in contact with Green. And following the sad news of his passing, that was more apparent than ever.

Prior to Thursday's spring training game, the Phillies held a moment of silence for Green and honored him by hanging his old jersey in their dugout. 

And across the baseball world, people were sharing great stories and touching tributes to Green. 

Here are some of the best – not counting the one written by our own Ryan Lawrence – starting with Jim Salisbury's account of when he visited Green on his farm last year (it's highly-recommended reading):

An appreciation of Dallas Green

Jim Salisbury | CSN Philly

For the next hour, I sat with Dallas in his big, old farmhouse. We talked about a lot of things, but mostly baseball, the rise of the '80 team, the clashes, the triumphs, working for George Steinbrenner. Dallas was feeling good that day and was especially enthused because Andy MacPhail, the Phillies club president, had called the day before to make sure he'd be in spring training.

"I'm tickled you came down," Dallas said as I left that day. "See you in Clearwater."

Well, Big D, it was me that was tickled that day. It was magic talking to you, magic knowing you. You were missed in Clearwater this year. And you'll never be forgotten. By anyone. You were one of a kind, a great baseball man and a Phillies legend.  []

The time Green straightened out Howard

Marcus Hayes | Philadelphia Daily News

It was near the end of spring training in 2005. Ryan Howard, whose 2004 minor-league season rewrote record books, had just been demoted to the minors after the Phillies aborted the experiment of playing him in the outfield. Howard, 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, stormed out of the clubhouse…

Green called Howard’s name: “Ryan.” Howard kept walking. Green hollered again, this time in his manager’s voice that had kept Rose and Schmidt and Bowa in line: “Ryan!” This time, Howard stopped, but he didn’t bother to turn around. Green ignored the insult. A 70-year-old baseball giant, 6-foot-5 but still plenty powerful, Green put his long arm around Howard and walked him into a dugout.

Green spoke for 20 minutes. Two or three times his voice rose, but only for a moment. Howard stared straight ahead. He said nothing. He nodded once. When Green finished, he patted Howard on the leg. Howard got up and left the dugout. He dropped his bag off in the minor-league locker room, changed clothes and left the facility. That was fine.

That was one of the things Green had told him: to take a few hours, maybe all day; to come back when he’d cooled off. That was the nicest thing Green said.  []

The time Green straightened out Schmidt

CSN Philly

Kruk reminisces about Green

CSN Philly

How Green, Manuel overcame differences

Matt Gelb | The Philadelphia Inquirer

The morning after the death of one of only two men to walk this planet and guide the losingest franchise in sports to a championship, the other wore his faded red Phillies windbreaker and watched some baseball. They are forever linked, Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel. They are kindred spirits in this game. They embodied a throwback, uncensored style. They mastered, through different methods, how to lead.

Hell, they fought each other.

"Once we aired our differences out, we became friends," Manuel said. "Actually, I think having a few cocktails and having dinner might've helped that."  []

Dallas did it his way

Ray Didinger | CSN Philly

To get some idea of what that season was like, picture this scene: It is Sunday, Aug. 11, a sweltering hot day in Pittsburgh. The Phillies have just lost the first game of a doubleheader, 7-1, to the Pirates. Green orders the clubhouse doors locked so the reporters are standing in the hallway. The manager launches into a profane rant that is so loud we can hear every word.

"You guys have got to stop being so (expletive) cool," Green bellowed. "Get that through your (expletive) heads. Get the (expletive) off your asses. You're a good (expletive) baseball team but you're not now and you can't look in the (expletive) mirror and tell me that you are. You tell me you can do it but you (expletive) give up.

"If you don't want to (expletive) play, come in my office and (expletive) tell me because I don't want to (expletive) play you."

When the clubhouse door opened, the reporters tiptoed in expecting to find the walls scorched and furniture broken. Instead, Green was sitting behind his desk, his jaw clenched but his voice calm. []

Green never held back

Billy Lyon | The Philadelphia Inquirer

Their nickname for him was Whispers. He was 6-foot-5 but always seemed even bigger. He had the bearing of a drill sergeant.

The thin of skin tended to pout and sulk after having been strafed by one of his profanity-laced meltdowns, but often they also tended to respond with seething I'll-show-him passion.

Shortstop Larry Bowa, who was napalm and tabasco sauce himself, said: "It was like what the Packers used to say about Vince Lombardi, that he treats us all alike . . . like dogs."

In the Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers, Dallas Green was voted the most controversial skipper of the 1980s, with this trenchant assessment: "Dallas Green was the last of the hard-ass managers, surviving from the pre-free agency era." []

High character and no regrets

Bob Cooney | Burlington County Times

Getting Dallas Green to talk about baseball and cursing at the same time was like listening to Beethoven talk about his favorite symphony.

At some point during the interview, the natural question about regrets came up. And in the next 40 seconds, you learned a lot about the way that Dallas Green viewed baseball and life in general.

“Once you let it fly, there’s no taking it back,” Green said. “You can apologize if you want to. I never wanted to and never did, because I felt that it was a form of motivation and my favorite deal of having everyone looking in the mirror. If they like what they saw, then I was wrong. But if I was right, it was up to them to change it. And the way I felt to do it was to bring it up and make them realize.”

In that sense, Dallas Green was a man’s man. He called things as he saw them. And he made sure that you were accountable to the main person you should be accountable to: yourself .[]

Angel at the gates for Green

Mike Lupica | Sports On Earth

But the truth about Dallas Green is that the life really began to come out of him on a Saturday in January of 2011, in Tucson, Ariz., when his granddaughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was shot dead by the same shooter who put a bullet in the head of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that day at a meet-and-greet. The little girl was 9. She already loved politics. She was there to meet her congresswoman. And then she was gone.

Dallas Green was at his winter home when he got the terrible news that day from Tucson, a bullet this time from a gun in the wrong hands fired into the heart of his family. He was in Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean, in a place officially known as Providenciales. It was a dream house there for him and his wife, Sylvia. Now came the nightmare news about this beautiful child. It is an unspeakable thing for a parent to think about outliving his children. There are no words for a grandchild. []

Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

And here’s more from Cataldi during the WIP Morning Show on Thursday:

And, of course, Howard Eskin used Green’s passing to take a shot at baseball analytics because of course he did.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin