Johnny Podres, the pitching coach from the 1993 Phillies and the hero of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series win, passed away yesterday at the age of 75. He was the Phillies pitching coach from 1991 to 1996, when he left the day-to-day job of pitching coach due to health concerns. After 1996, there still always seemed some random report of Podres being in Phillies camp to tutor Phillies major and minor leaguers as a special instructor. I don't know if he had an official role with the club, but still always seemed to be around, despite his obvious Dodger ties.
Podres was an underrated part of the success of the 1993 Phillies as he guided a pitching staff of cast-offs, has-beens, and never-weres into a cohesive staff that pushed the team into the 6th and fateful game of the World Series in 1993. It's obvious from looking at some of the pitchers from the 1993 staff and what some of them went on to become that Johnny Podres was a helluva pitching coach:
Tommy Greene: Mostly a bullpen guy when the Phils got him from Atlanta, Greene went on to pitch a no-hitter for the Phils in 1991, Pods' first year with the Phils. Had career best 16-4 in '93 with 167 Ks. Won only 2 games in 3 years after that one.
Curt Schilling: Perhaps Podres' most famous pupil. When the Phils got him in 1992, he was a screw-up in the Baltimore and Houston organizations. In 1992, Schilling began the transformation from mediocre long reliever to money starting pitcher, when he 14 - 11, with 10 complete games (unheard of in today's game). In 1993, Schilling had what was, to that point, a career best year, going 16-7 in '93 with 186 Ks. Schill bviously went on to greater successes.
Danny Jackson: Had been on the scrap heap of baseball since '89 before he came to the Phillies in '93 and went 12 - 11. In 1994, Jackson was arguably their best pitcher (including Schilling), going 14 - 6 with 129 Ks in a strike shortened season.
Terry Mulholland: In addition to Greene, perhaps the first Phillies pitcher to benefit from Podres' tutelage, when Pods came on board in 1991. Mulholland won a career high 16 games in 1991, in addition to 8 complete games. In 1993, Mulholland won 12 games (completing 7) and provided a quiet consistency to an otherwise, young rotation.
Ben Rivera: Career best 13-9 in '93. Out of MLB in '95.
As could be expected, Curt Schilling says some very nice things about Pods in his blog today.