Interviews With Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina

Today I had the opportunity to speak with two former Phillies stars and, as an added bonus, I spoke with one of the players from the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Dallas Green is a former Phillies pitcher, former Phillies manager and currently holds a position as Senior Advisor to the General Manager with the Phillies. 
Green.jpg
He is probably best known for being the manager of the Phillies 1980 World Series team.  With a career that ran from 1960-1967 as a player and 1979-1996 as a baseball manager, Green has an amazing history.  Here is our conversation:

Jenn: Name one thing people need to know about you?

Dallas: Well the obvious thing is I am the only manager in 100 years that won a World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies and that Charlie Manuel has joined me. But there are only two of us around and I am still going.

Jenn: How would you compare your managerial style with that of Charlie Manuel?

Dallas: Much different.  I mean, we had a different ball club too and there were different circumstance.  My style was (pause), some of the players didn’t like my style but we won a Championship and that’s all they remember now.

Jenn: There has been a real cultural change among players since the time you played.  Players did not usually socialize but today, they are out during batting practice, chatting and being friendly.  How do you feel about that?

Dallas: Well I’m still old school.  You know, I think the other team used to be respected but be left alone.  Even though what has happened in baseball is that with free agency everybody has become friends, and the union has been part of that, and the change of teams.  We never used to change teams.  We sign with the Phillies, we play with the Phillies most of our career, so that kind of stuff has changed considerably.

Jenn: You were born in Delaware and attended the University of Delaware

Dallas: Born and raised in Newport.

Jenn: Were you a Phillies fan growing up?

Dallas: Oh yeah I went to the old Blue Rocks stadium in Wilmington, Delaware and saw Robin Roberts first game there.  Obviously at the University of Delaware, Mr. Carpenter was a very big part of the Delaware sports program and I went to school on a scholarship that he provided so it was natural that I would sign with the Phillies. (Editors note: Bob Carpenter owned the Phillies for nearly 3 decades)

Jenn: You actually played with Robin Roberts…

Dallas: Well besides being a wonderful pitcher, he was a great man.  And all of us that were touched by him remember him that way.  He was a very special pitcher and unbelievable Hall of Fame statistics that are mind-boggling in today’s baseball.  But he’ll be remembered more as a great man.

Jenn: What is your favorite memory of Robin Roberts?

Dallas: Well, I think the first time we met was probably the best time.  We became very good friends.  He kind of befriended me my first Spring Training in a Phillies uniform and of course he was a veteran at that time and had already won a lot of baseball games.  So for him to befriend me at the beginning of my time, I always appreciated that.

Jenn: What is the strangest thing a fan has ever said to you or asked you?

Dallas: Probably this one. (laughs) I can’t recall that.

***I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Green for his time and generosity.

I also spoke with Gary “Sarge” Matthews who played for the Phillies from 1981-1983.  He is currently on staff as a TV and radio color announcer. 
Sarge.jpg
In his 16-year playing career, Sarge played left field and ended with a lifetime .281 batting average and 234 home runs.  Here is our conversation:

Jenn: Yesterday I heard from Scott Franzke that you were into wood whittling.  What is that about?

Sarge: Well, I mean for the baby (Franzke’s newborn son, August) what I did, I knew some people in Florida.  It’s the Yoder’s company.  They do a lot of different, special baby-type things and instead of having the full name “August” I decided to go with “Gus.” It (wooden train) has a caboose on it, engine and everything so, quite appropriate for today (National Train Day).

Jenn: There has been a real cultural change among players since the time you played.  Players did not usually socialize but today, they are out during batting practice, chatting and being friendly.  How do you feel about that?

Sarge: Well, me personally I don’t particularly care for it but you got to realize too that, you know, things have changed so much that this is what they do now. I mean, they are friendly with each other.  We were friendly but it was after the game not during the game. So, you know they still give a solid effort in being friends with somebody but it would have been hard, difficult for me to. But this has been going on for about the last ten to twelve years or so that they’ve been pretty friendly. It’s just the time of the age.

Jenn: How did you get into broadcasting?

Sarge: Well, believe it or not I had when I finished playing, I had a radio show called The Major League Baseball Network and it was a syndicated show all over so that kind of got me involved with it. Then I did some things with the Toronto Blue Jays on television and radio. So, I mean if you know the game it’s still difficult because there are things you haven’t learned that you got to learn in school.  But at least the hard part is you know the game now you have to work on delivery and being able to convey your thoughts to the fans in a special kind of time. So, you learn to do it. Our job is not as difficult as the product on the field.  We don’t have as much stress win, lose or draw and then we reap the benefits like these two rings. (Sarge shows me both his 2008 World Series ring and 2009 National League pennant ring, one on each hand)

Jenn: What was your most embarrassing moment as a player?

Sarge: Well, I mean obviously everybody has missed balls, things like that.  You know really back when we were playing it was really more no-nonsense. And if it was an embarrassing thing like missing a ball, or I missed some fly ball or whatever before, it is not talked about very much. Especially if you lose because you know we didn’t play a lot of jokes or laugh a lot.  We’d play jokes for instance, Ryne Sandberg used to always tape on my directors chairs the little mechanisms, the sticks, and would just put them flush on there and every time I’d come in there I would fall right on the ground if sitting.  We would play more practical jokes then get on each other about embarrassing moments.

Jenn: What is something that most people do not know about you that you might like to share?

Sarge: Well I don’t know how many people know that I get my nails done. And when on the road, if at all possible, I always get some fresh Gardenias and put them all over the room because I love flowers.

***Thank you to Sarge for his time and sincerity.  Sarge is a great big teddy bear…easy to talk to and always entertaining.

My final conversation was with Virginia Ventura Marina; she played first base for the Rockford Peaches in the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 
P5080490.JPG
The AAGPBL is the women’s league that the 1992 movie, “
A League of Their Own” was based on.

Jenn: You played for the Rockford Peaches…

Virginia: I played for the Rockford Peaches in 1951 and 1953. In 1952 I had a medical problem and then I played with the Chicago softball league down in Florida.

Jenn: How old were you when you started?

Virginia: I was fifteen.

Jenn: You were allowed to play at fifteen?

Virginia: Well, my father allowed me to come out here because my friend, Joan, played also for Rockford.  She was two years older than me.  But I had to finish my school year before I was allowed to come out. I went to Peoria in 1951 in the spring.  I was fifteen and we went to a two week try-out and I got a contract.

Jenn: How did you get interested in baseball to begin with?

Virginia: Well, my girlfriend, Joan Kneble, also played for Berger.  Her father started a team in our home town, Garfield, New Jersey because there was nothing for girls.  I met Joan at the YMCA.  They gave us a ½ day for swimming; that was it.  We started a team and from that, it spiraled and about 5 or 6 of us from our regional team made the Peaches.

Jenn: Did you follow baseball growing up and if so, did you have a favorite team?

Virginia: Yeah, you know I liked the Brooklyn Dodgers then they moved out of town. I used to go see the Yankees and the Giants because they used to take us (to the games) on buses.

Jenn: Do you still follow baseball today?

Virginia: I do, but not as close as I would like to.  I am too busy running around.

Jenn: How did you feel about the league being dissolved?

Virginia: Well, I didn’t return in ’54 because there were rumors going around that it was going to dissolve.  You know, it was a great experience for me and I would have loved to go back.  But being that they would dissolve them, my father wouldn’t sign the contract.  You had to be 21 at that time and they did have a team that toured around the country.

Jenn: What did you think of the movie “A League of Their Own?”

Virginia: Those girls were the originals.  They started in ’43.  Great movie.  I mean it’s a little Hollywood, but good.

Jenn: What keeps you busy these days?

Virginia: Well, I am retired. I’d been selling real estate for almost 30 years.  I’m not doing that now right now.  I’m going to be 75.  I run around with my daughter and my grandson, things like that.

***I would also like to thank Virginia for her time as well.  It was a true honor to meet her; she was a pleasure to talk to.

Thank you as well to the staff of Philadelphia’s National Train Day for inviting me to speak with these honored guests.  It is very much appreciated. :O)

8 Comments

Awesome stuff, Jenn….Thanks for posting and great job!

Nice work, enjoyed to interviews.

Rich Baxter / http://fightinphillies.com

I meant to say ‘enjoyed the interviews’ … I’m flagged :)

Rich Baxter / http://fightinphillies.com

Jenn, this was great. Thanks for sharing. You go girl! Big fan of Sarge from back in the day so that was quite a treat.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

Excellent job Jen! Love all three interviews. Sarge likes to start saying “well”. Is nice that he likes to put gardenias in his room. How cute! And I love that Virginia was a Brooklyn Dodger fan.
Thanks Jen!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Wow. Jenn. Great interviews. My favorite was when you asked Dallas Green about his managerial style and he said, “My style (pause).” LOL.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Great little article. Thanks for your efforts. All three interviews were interesting and enjoyable. Please give us more.

Bravo!! Enjoyed that emmensely! Virginia was a great look into the Women’s League. fantastic stuff!
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

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