Camden Courier Post - November 9, 1980

Dallas Green couldn’t forget the teaching of Owens

 

By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post

 

PHILADELPHIA – He gave three reasons why he' agreed to manage the Phillies for another year. Yet, when all was said and done, it still came down to the fact that Dallas Green could not forget his roots.

 

Oh, he smiled into the cameras and joked about how winning the World Series had enabled him to receive some "interesting money" from owner Ruly Carpenter as part of the one-year contract.

 

He also talked about the timing for his eventual move back into the front office not being right. And, how because of the working relationship between himself and General Manager Paul Owens, keeping the status quo seemed the best way of perpetuating a winning tradition for the club.

 

But money never meant anything to Green. And, the working relationship that he truly wanted was to be at Owens' side during the next year or two, putting the final touches on a baseball education that began 13 years ago.

 

If there was a bottom line to Green's decision, not to call in his IOUs and demand his return to the executive side of the Phils, it was the love and respect he has for the man called The Pope. Neither success nor ambition was going to change that. Not ever.

 

It was Owens who befriended the righthander with the sizzling fastball 24 years ago. And, when Dallas could no longer throw hard and get the batters out consistently, it was Owens who took the tall, handsome pitcher aside one afternoon in Clearwater, Fla., and told him, "I'd like you to think about becoming my assistant."

 

Phils' farm director at the time, Owens , had already discussed the young man with General Manager John Quinn, noting, "I like the way the guy battled his arm problems. He's not a quitter. He's honest and straightforward. I think he has a future with us."

 

The two men made sure Dallas qualified for his baseball pension, a show of good faith that both realized was a solid investment when they traveled to Florida after the season to view the work being done on what was to be one of the finest baseball facilities in the country, Carpenter Complex.

 

"When I drove up to the place, there was Dallas in the outfield digging holes for the fence," recalled The Pope with a smile. "You can believe it or not, but I knew right then that someday he would be right where he is today... a very successful baseball man."

 

In the years that followed, there would be times when Green wondered if he shouldn't be doing other things within the organization. But, in the end, he always respected Owens' judgment.

 

"Why are you asking me to manage in the minor leagues?" asked Dallas during the winter of 1967. "I can't learn about the business end of baseball while I'm in South Dakota!"

 

Owens just smiled. "You should know what it's like to ride the minor league bus," he answered. "That way, when you eventually deal with the people throughout the organization, you'll be able to understand their problems."

 

This was exactly the same kind of education Bob Carpenter regretted never having under his belt when his dad turned the Phillies over to him. Young Ruly was not going to suffer the same fate. Like Green, Ruly soon found himself under The Pope's wing.

 

"Yeah, I had the both of them, recalled The Pope with a chuckle. "They were there when we began taking the entire scouting and minor league system apart and putting it back together again.

 

"I wanted Dallas to have the background to succeed me as farm director. As for Ruly, I gave him the job of wading through a mountain of files and working up a system of evaluating our people."

 

Every once in a while, the senior Carpenter would poke his head into Owens' office and ask, "How's the kid doing?"

 

"I'm working his butt off. He's coming along fine," The Pope would answer.

 

"Don't give me a load of bull. Make him work. I want him to know both the good and the bad of this business. Someday, the two of you are going to be running the Phillies."

 

During those years, a bond was forged between Ruly, Dallas and The Pope. It was rife with good feelings, but its foundation was in their common quest for a winning organization.

 

The Phillies were building from within, with Quinn generously lighting the way for Owens to succeed him. And Owens, in turn, passing his knowledge along to Green and young Carpenter.

 

One day. as he was taking Dallas with him into an important meeting. Owens stopped suddenly and told his protégé, "I'm not going to keep anything from you. Whatever I can teach you, I will.

 

“But remember one thing. You're Dallas Green, not Paul Owens. Don't try to be another me. Be yourself and you'll do just fine."

 

There were times, especially during the stormy sessions with Danny Ozark, that Owens would sit back and chuckle at the advice he'd given Dallas. But, he never intervened because he had taught the young man to fight for his minor league players.

 

Even when they were at odds with each other, the two men considered it part of their education. When Dallas became farm director, he didn't like the idea of including catcher John Stearns in a deal that brought Tug McGraw in from the New York Mets. The trade was made anyway.

 

Yet. when Owens was tempted to trade Lonnie Smith to Baltimore for infielder Billy Smith, it was Green who prevailed, much to Owens' delight. What fans have to understand is that Lonnie belonged to the team Dallas was putting together for the future. Keith Moreland, Marty Bystrom. Bob Walk, Luis Aguayo and the rest of the youth movement represent years of work on the part of Green.

 

The veterans on the current Phillies squad, in essence, belong to Owens. When he first started developing the club, he told the press, “Don't judge me as a general manager today. Come back in five years and tell me whether I'm a success or failure."

 

That team, although it had made its mark with three divisional titles, was given "one more year to do it" before being dismantled. That last chance was the 1980 season.

 

What could be more fitting than to have the team that The Pope built helped over the top by the team Dallas developed. With the help of Ruly, the three finally achieved their goal.

 

Unfortunately, there was a price. Because he was in the dugout instead of the front office, Green was missing out on the final stages of his own executive development in order to do a job he never really wanted.

 

"The ironic part." said Owens, "is that Dallas doesn't realize how much field ability he has. He's good. And, in the long run, I think this experience will only help to make him an even better general manager."

 

For now, a lifetime of work and waiting has finally come to fruition for The Pope. On the framework of major league baseball, it is his turn to stand center stage and receive the recognition he deserves.

 

Dallas is well aware of this. He wants to have his moment in the sun. Setting aside his own personal goals for the good of someone else is something you'd expect of Green because he was taught by one of the best.

 

 

The ties are strong. The roots run deep. And Dallas Green is not the kind of man to forget where he came from or how he got there.