Philadelphia Phillies Retro Scorecard Recap: August 17, 2002

St. Louis Cardinals' Fernando Vina lands on top of the Philadelphia Phillies' Mike Lieberthal (Photo by TOM MIHALEK/AFP via Getty Images)
St. Louis Cardinals' Fernando Vina lands on top of the Philadelphia Phillies' Mike Lieberthal (Photo by TOM MIHALEK/AFP via Getty Images) /

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed since I scribbled out some of my Philadelphia Phillies scorecards. For instance, it was on this date twenty years ago, August 17, 2002, that I was on hand for when the Phillies welcomed Scott Rolen and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yes, even more Scott Rolen discussion from me. But this was an important one, as this was the series that gave the Philly faithful their first chance to glimpse (and boo) Rolen in an enemy uniform.

On this date 20 years ago, the Philadelphia Phillies faced Scott Rolen and the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s a Saturday afternoon at Veterans Stadium, and a pretty unimpressive crowd of just over 20,000 has filed in to see the middle contest of the Phillies’ weekend series with the Cards. Attendance had swelled to over 30,000 for the series opener the previous night, and it wasn’t a secret as to why, as Scott Rolen was making his return to Philadelphia less than three weeks after having been traded out of town.

The pitching matchup offered St. Louis rookie Jason Simontacchi against David Coggin for the Phils. Not exactly Bob Gibson versus Steve Carlton, but it’ll have to do on this day. After an uneventful first inning, Albert Pujols leads off the second with a single. Pujols was actually in the midst of his only NON all-star season between 2001 and 2009, even though he finished the year hitting .314 with 34 home runs and 127 RBI while finishing second in NL MVP voting. Guy was good. I wonder what he’s up to nowadays.

Next up is the man that everyone came to see. Scott Rolen had gone 2-4 in his first game back in Philadelphia the night before (although the Phils won), so perhaps there were no jitters on his part, despite the best efforts of the fans. In his first plate appearance on this day, David Coggin hits him with a pitch and cements his place in Phillies lore. It hurts the Phillies in the context of the game, however, as the Cards push a run across to take a 1-0 lead.

Things get worse in the third inning, as Coggin allows a leadoff hit to Simontacchi, who comes around to score on a Jim Edmonds single to make it 2-0. Later, Rolen steps up and delivers a double down the left field line to plate two runs. It’s 4-0 St. Louis, and this is not going well at all.

We get to the fifth inning, and Brandon Duckworth comes on to relieve Coggin. He gets into some trouble after an Edmonds double and a walk to Rolen, then allows a run on an RBI single by Tino Martinez. Coggin, for his part, made only two more MLB appearances after this game, bouncing around the minors for another five years before hanging up his spikes. In his post-playing career, he’s worked hard to help train young athletes regarding proper throwing techniques. Good for him.

The Phillies continue to sleepwalk through this particular game, only getting to Simontacchi in the seventh inning thanks to a solo home run by Jeremy Giambi. At least the Phillies were finally able to retire Rolen in the top of the inning when Carlos Silva coaxed him into a pop-up. But that was the end of any good news.

Simontacchi exits after seven strong, and the Cardinals employ Mike Crudale and Steve Kline for one inning apiece out of their bullpen. They have little trouble with the Phillies’ bats, as St. Louis cruises to the 5-1 victory that was never really in doubt.

Unfortunately, the Cards would win by the identical score the next day to take the series, with the sellout crowd no doubt being even more angered by the fact that Rolen got the Sunday afternoon off. No word on whether or not St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa took that advice from a fan or not. But at least it was Harry and Whitey bobblehead day, an item that I was disappointed to miss out on at first but later got as a Christmas present and keep in a place of honor to this day.

Next. Harper and Realmuto to play in WBC. dark

Circling back to the game in question twenty years ago today, we got our chance to let our feelings about Scott Rolen be known, but it did little to affect the result on the field. In the two decades since, maybe your opinion of Rolen has changed, or maybe you’re still bitter. You be the judge. In the meantime, I’m just here to tell you about old ballgames.