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Former Mets manager Dallas Green dies at 82

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The first man to manage the Phillies to a World Series title has died.

Dallas Green

Dallas Green—profane, blunt, and larger-than-life, the first man to lead the Phillies to a World Series title—died yesterday at the age of 82.

“The game lost a great baseball man today,” Phillies Chairman David Montgomery said in a press release. “Dallas held many different positions in baseball and his passion and love for the game was evident in every role he played.”

Green, a Delaware native, spent most of his life in the Phillies organization after being signed by the team in 1955. He made his debut with the big league club in 1960 but never amounted to much as a major league player. A pitcher, Green once joked that he was a twenty game winner, but that “it just took me five years to do it.”

Despite his unimpressive career record of 20-22 to go along with a 4.26 ERA, Green managed to spend parts of eight seasons in the majors, mostly with the Phillies. He did make a brief stop at Shea in 1966 as a member of a Mets squad that went 66-95 that year. Green wasn’t much help, appearing in four games and compiling a dismal 5.40 ERA in only five innings of work. Two years later Green would be done as a player.

When his career on the field ended, he joined the Phillies’ staff, coaching in the minor leagues until 1972, when he was named director of their farm system. Green helped oversee the Phillies’ drafting and scouting until he was named manager in 1979 when the team fired Danny Ozark.

Green was an unpopular choice among the players. Where Ozark had been more laid back, Green was a fire-breather who never shied away from conflict. Looking back on the 1980 championship season years later, Green told MLB.com that "I battled with my players the whole year. You've heard about player revolts that cause managers to lose the clubhouse? Well, in 1980, I lost the clubhouse almost every day."

Despite—or perhaps because of—the volatility, the Phillies made it all the way to the World Series and captured their first championship. It marked the pinnacle of Green’s career.

In 1981, after buying the Cubs, the Tribune company lured Green away from the Phillies to be the team’s executive vice president and general manager. Green was initially successful in the position despite angering Cubs purists by firing Ernie Banks and advocating for lights at Wrigley Field.

Under Green’s leadership the Cubs reached the postseason for the first time since 1945. He was responsible for the trade that sent Bill Buckner to the Red Sox for Dennis Eckersley. He traded for Ryne Sandberg and Gary Matthews. He also rebuilt the team’s farm system with Gordon Goldsberry, and assembled a collection of young talent that included Greg Maddux, Shawon Dunston, Jamie Moyer, and Rafael Palmeiro among others.

The Cubs’ on-field performance suffered in his final years, though, and in 1987 they finished last in the division. Due to increasing squabbles with ownership and diminishing returns on the field, Green resigned in 1987.

He wasn’t unemployed for long, though, managing the Yankees in 1989 and quickly getting himself fired for clashing with George Steinbrenner, who he famously dubbed “Manager George.”

In 1993 he landed himself in Flushing as the manager of the Mets. Green’s tenure with the team was mostly unremarkable and he finished with a 229-283 record over four years. Green was one of four men to manage both the Yankees and the Mets, a group that includes Joe Torre, Casey Stengel, and Yogi Berra.

The Mets tweeted out their condolences on Wednesday. “We join the baseball family in mourning the passing of former Mets pitcher and manager, Dallas Green,” the team wrote.

The Mets were the last managerial stop of Green’s career. After leaving the team, Green eventually returned to the Phillies’ front office as a special adviser, and was known for his often-controversial hot takes on players. Of Scott Rolen he once said: "He's not a great player. In his mind, he probably thinks he's doing OK, but the fans in Philadelphia know otherwise. I think he can be greater, but his personality won't let him."

When asked about Green’s passing, Larry Bowa, a member of the 1980 championship team, and an accomplished manager in his own right, was blunt. "We don’t win the World Series in 1980 without Dallas Green. He will never be forgotten in Philadelphia."