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Phillips, Norman (Eddie) (1979)

Eddie Phillips

Norman (Ed) Phillips, formerly of Portland, heads the players' list by virtue of major league service as he was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 1970. He travelled from his home in Louisville KY to attend the festivities. PPH 1979

Eddie Phillips PPH 1979 2nd from left

Eddie Phillips 1979 PPH

Eddie Phillips

From The Society for American Baseball Research

This article was written by Bill Nowlin

Right-handed pitcher Ed Phillips appeared only briefly in the big leagues, working in 18 games for the 1970 Boston Red Sox. His record was 0-2, a win proving elusive.

Phillips was both born and died on September 20. He was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on September 20, 1944, as Norman Edwin Phillips Jr., the son of Maurine and Norman Phillips. He died on September 20, 2017.

Ed attended Portland’s Longfellow Elementary School, Lincoln Junior High, and Deering High School. He was an active athlete at Deering High, participating in baseball (22-5 in three seasons), basketball, and football. H. When he graduated in 1962, he was 6-foot-1 and listed at 190 pounds. He had a three-quarter arm motion, according to Portland Press-Herald writer Tom Chard, who added that he “didn’t overpower hitters, using a strong breaking ball and pinpoint control.” Chard quoted Deering teammate Paul Pendleton as saying, “Speed wasn’t his forte. Eddie had great control. He rarely walked a hitter. If he walked one or two in a game, that was it. He kept his composure and if a player made an error, Eddie would bear down that much more. It was always about the team.” Pendleton added, “Eddie pitched us to three state titles,” said Pendleton. “Little League, Pony League and (American) Legion.”

There was one game at Deering that stands out in retrospect. During Phillips’s junior year, his team faced off against another undefeated team, the Cheverus Stags. Left-hander Dick Joyce was pitching for Cherevus. In 1965, Joyce pitched in five games for the Kansas City Athletics. The battle thus pitted two future major leaguers against each other. Cheverus won that game and finished their season undefeated.

Phillips went on to Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he played basketball, and baseball for coach John Winkin. There he compiled a 16-5 record, with a 6-0 (0.50 earned run average) in his final year. One of the wins in his senior year was a 5-1 no-hitter on May 10 against the University of Maine. On June 8, the Boston Red Sox selected him in the 16th round of the amateur draft. He learned of it during a game that day while pitching at Fenway Park for the first time in the NCAA District 1 final.3 He had come into the game with an ERA of 0.56, but suffered his first loss of the season, 5-4, to Northeastern.

Two days after graduating in 1966, Phillips signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox for a reported $9,000. The signing is credited to Robert H. Murray.

He was assigned to the Oneonta Red Sox in the Single-A New York-Penn League. He maintained a good earned run average there, 2.80 in 15 games (seven of them starts). His record was 4-4.

In 1967 with the Single-A Greenville (South Carolina) Red Sox in the Western Carolinas League, he split his time between starting (19 games) and relieving (15 games). He got in 163 innings of work and was 14-6, with a 2.37 ERA. He also started three games for Pittsfield in the Eastern League, a Double-A circuit, and was 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA.

For whatever reason, he started 1968 in Single A once again. This time it was with Winston-Salem in the Carolina League. He was 10-9 with a 2.65 ERA, one of the wins a perfect game on July 17 at Ernie Shore Field in Winston-Salem, beating visiting Rocky Mount, 3-0. He also homered, accounting for the first Red Sox runs.6 He struck out each of the last three batters.7 “I didn’t see any possible way it could happen,” he said afterwards, declaring his slider his most effective pitch of the day.8 His perfect game gave him “the unique distinction of having pitched at least one no-hitter at every baseball level, Little League, Pony League, high school, American Legion, college, and professional.”

He pitched 14 complete games that year, and appeared in 10 games for Triple-A Louisville, 1-0 (1.88). After the season he went to Sarasota to play in the Florida Instructional League, and on to San Pedro de Macoris where he pitched for Estrellas de Orientales, going 2-1 in the Dominican winter league playoffs. The first win was a 1-0 shutout of the Leones de Escogido of Santo Domingo, where he faced all three Alou brothers, with only Jesus Alou getting a single off him.

Phillips pitched the full 1969 season at Louisville, mostly working in relief (he only started 4 of 34 games). His record was 7-4, 3.25. His manager at Louisville in both 1968 and 1969 — Eddie Kasko — was named manager of the Boston Red Sox for 1970 and first met with the press on October 2. He noted Bill Conigliaro, Luis Alvarado, and Ed Phillips as among his charges who might make the majors in 1970. Later in the month, Phillips was added to the major-league roster, and even worked for the team during the offseason. He joined the Red Sox for spring training in 1970.

Phillips had a good spring training, won a bullpen spot with the team and had his major-league debut on April 9 during an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees held a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. After Vicente Romo gave up a two-out single, Kasko brought in Sparky Lyle. But Lyle gave up back-to-back walks, loading the bases. He seemed to have nothing that day, and Phillips was waved in. Down by just one run and with the bases loaded, it was a difficult situation but he threw just two pitches. The first was a called strike and on the second, Phillips induced New York first baseman John Ellis to pop up to his counterpart at first base, Boston’s George Scott. The Sox failed to score, but Phillips had done his job. After the game, Kasko said of bringing in his rookie reliever, “You might as well use them and find out. Phillips did well for a spot like that.”

Phillips told a reporter he was still nervous 20 minutes after the game was over and that he was glad he’d had his first appearance on the road, since he had so many friends in Boston and would have felt more pressure there. He said of Ellis, “I faced him last year in the Little World Series playoffs and knew he couldn’t hit the breaking ball very well. That’s what I kept thinking about coming in from the bullpen. I had to get the breaking ball over first.”

On April 12 in Washington, he got in a full inning of work, allowing one single but striking out the three other batters he faced. By the end of April, he’d appeared in six games, thrown eight innings, and had yet to give up a run. That changed in May. He gave up one run in each of two games, unfortunately losing the last one on May 6, but still had just a 1.80 ERA when he was sent back to Louisville in mid-May on 24-hour recall to make room for Mike Nagy, who was having an excellent year there.

Phillips did not pitch well in Louisville. He was 1-5 with an ERA of 6.62 in 53 innings. When Jim Lonborg had to go on the disabled list, Phillips was brought back to Boston on July 1. He lost a second game, again just surrendering one run, on July 8. His ERA was 2.19.

Then he had a couple of poor performances, both times giving up four earned runs. His last appearance was on August 29. He finished with a 5.32 ERA and the 0-2 record. He’d worked 23 2/3 innings and struck out 23 batters, but had given up 29 hits, walked 10, and been tagged for 14 earned runs.

He had had three at-bats, without a hit. He successfully converted the one fielding chance he was presented.

Why had he not lasted longer in the big leagues? Eddie Kasko was asked more than 20 years later. “He’s got nothing to be embarrassed about…I don’t think anyone worked harder than he did. When you get there, it’s the opportunities that are presented to you.” Kasko felt that the implementation of the designated hitter rule in the minor leagues in 1969 had meant that Phillips got less work since relievers got less work as the DH was first brought in. He didn’t get enough innings in during 1969 or, in particular, 1970, to stay sharp. “Today,” wrote Roberta Scruggs, “Phillips would be a classic set-up man; then, his role was never clearly defined.”

In 1971, Phillips played for Double-A Pawtucket (0-1, with a 12.00 ERA in nine games), and very briefly for both Louisville and Tidewater in the Mets organization, then retired from baseball.

Ed Phillips was inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979 and into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. The 2016 induction was attended by numerous family members and friends as well as several members of the 1957 Portland Little League All-Star team that he helped pitch into the Maine State Championship and regional playoffs in New York.

In 2016, his number 15 baseball jersey was retired by Colby College.

When Fenway Park celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012, his daughter Brooke had accompanied him to the celebration. Tom Chard said she had asked her father if he was going to be nervous after being introduced and having to walk across the field at Fenway in front of the sold-out crowd. “I was nervous when I was the one walking out of the bullpen to the mound,” he told the Press Herald. “It will be a lot easier to go out there with a couple of hundred other players.”

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