Philadelphia Phillies Retro Scorecard Recap: July 7, 1999

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf (Photo by TOM MIHALEK/AFP via Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf (Photo by TOM MIHALEK/AFP via Getty Images) /

I’m once again bringing you an installment of this feature from the mind of a demented Philadelphia Phillies fan (me), where I look back on a game that I attended on the anniversary of when it was played. This trip down memory lane will take us back 23 years, to a contest between the Phils and the Milwaukee Brewers on July 7, 1999.

It’s a hot Wednesday night at the Vet, as the Phils and the Brew Crew meet in the rubber match of their three-game set. It’s also a battle between two southpaws, with Scott Karl going for the visitors and Randy Wolf on the mound for the Phillies. Things start poorly for the home club.

Wolf allows three straight singles to start the game, then a walk, then throws a wild pitch, and then issues another walk later in the inning. Somehow, though, after all that, the Phillies are only down 1-0. The Brewers tack on another run in the second as they start to build their picket fence, but the Phils respond to tie the game via a 2-run double by Alex Arias in the bottom of the inning.

The Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers played a tight one on July 7, 1999.

From there, the zeroes start to pile up, with each of the starters exiting after six innings of a 2-2 game. The recently acquired Amaury Telemaco continues the trend by shutting out Milwaukee in the seventh. Little did we know he’d go on to become a treasured friend over the years. Then, the Phillies bats wake up.

Doug Glanville and Ron Gant start the home seventh with back-to-back singles, and they both end up scoring on an RBI groundout by Bobby Abreu and a double by Mike Lieberthal, respectively. It’s a 4-2 Phillies lead. Sandwiched between those at bats was a strikeout by Scott Rolen, who is now 0-4 on the night and looks lost. More on that later.

The next man out of the bullpen for the Phillies is Steve Montgomery, who is making one of 53 appearances that year which I have no recollection of whatsoever. He’s successful, however, and the game stays 4-2 Phillies through the end of the inning. Montgomery stays in the game to face the leadoff hitter in the ninth, allows a single, then gets the hook from Terry Francona, who proceeds to demonstrate why people hate baseball when he puts in Jim Poole for one batter and then turns to Wayne Gomes to nail it down.

Wayne Gomes does not nail it down.

With men on first and second and two outs, in steps pinch hitter Geoff Jenkins, a Brewers regular who had originally gotten the night off because of the lefty-lefty matchup against Wolf and also because the two of them might be the same guy and it could tear a hole in the space-time continuum if they appeared on a baseball diamond at the same time. Jenkins singles home a run to make it a 4-3 game and is no doubt also pleased that he’ll end up winning a World Series with the Phillies nine years later. I’m sure he had a feeling.

This game is still going, though. Gomes completes the blown save when Ronnie Belliard tags him for a double to left field, but Jenkins is cut down at the plate on the relay throw by the holy trinity of Gant to Arias to Lieberthal. It’s a 4-4 game, headed to the bottom of the (possibly) last.

Brewers closer Bob “Nub” Wickman gets the call to attempt to send this game to extra innings, and it’s looking like that’ll be the case after he retires Gant and Abreu to start the inning. Now, here comes Scott Rolen.

Here I go again.

I do not like Scott Rolen. I realize that he was a very good player, and that the Phillies also share blame in the way things played out during his tenure with the club. But he also had a chance to be the Mike Schmidt of my generation. He blew it here for a number of reasons, and then he went on to success elsewhere, which sounds more like something that happens to the Flyers than to the Phillies. His accomplishments, I begrudgingly acknowledge, will probably land him in the Hall of Fame someday soon. But I don’t have to like it. Or him. Ever.

Back to July 7, 1999.

As a 14-year old kid seeing an exciting young player for this Phillies team, I am fully behind Rolen. He’s having a great year to this point, one that should have landed him on the NL All-Star Team for the first time in his career but didn’t thanks to third base being occupied by Matt Williams (steroid user) and Ed Sprague (an average player who was the Pirates’ required representative that year). Still, with a Rookie of the Year award and a Gold Glove already in his trophy case, there was lots of excitement to come for the next decade.

And so it was truly thrilling when Rolen drove Wickman’s third pitch deep to left field, sending the ball clattering around in the empty seats to win the ballgame for the Phillies. With the 5-4 victory, the Phillies were 45-38. The future looked bright. But you know the rest. Or, you can at least guess.

The wheels came off that club, as they finished 77-85 on the year. They were done before the calendar flipped to September. And so was Rolen. His season ended prematurely thanks to what seems like the first case of his back flaring up, a problem that plagued him throughout his career. Just three years later, he was gone, shipped off to St. Louis because this just wasn’t the place for him.

Next. Phillies are early favorites to sign Trea Turner. dark

The great irony is that Rolen finally made his first All-Star Team as a Phillie in 2002, but nobody enjoyed it. Mere weeks later, he was traded, and he’d accomplish the feat six more times in his career. The Phillies, meanwhile, haven’t had an all-star season from a third baseman since. Scott Rolen is my ultimate “one that got away”, but at least we’ll always have July 7, 1999, yet another reminder of what could have and should have been.