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Unsung hero Trillo still flying under the radar

MLB.com

For some, the ideal retirement might include a lot of travel. For others it could mean reading the books you never had time for, cultivating a garden or learning a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.

Manny Trillo, second baseman when the 1980 Phillies won the first World Series in franchise history, has a simpler routine.

For some, the ideal retirement might include a lot of travel. For others it could mean reading the books you never had time for, cultivating a garden or learning a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument.

Manny Trillo, second baseman when the 1980 Phillies won the first World Series in franchise history, has a simpler routine.

Phillies' alumni 

"I love to sleep," Trillo said with a laugh during a rare visit to Citizens Bank Park during Alumni Weekend this past August. "I wake up and have a lunch. Get ready for my golf game around 3 o'clock. After the golf game, a bunch of the guys I play with go out to eat and have a few drinks. And then I go back to sleep again."

Originally signed by the Phillies out of Venezuela in January 1968, Trillo was taken by the A's in the Rule 5 Draft two seasons later. Oakland eventually traded him to the Cubs and he spent four years playing in Wrigley Field before returning to the Phillies on Feb. 23, 1979, in one of the best trades made by legendary general manager Paul (The Pope) Owens.

The Phils got Trillo, Greg Gross and Dave Rader for Henry Mack, Derek Bothello, Barry Foote, Jerry Martin and Ted Sizemore. In the next four years, Trillo won three National League Gold Glove Awards (his distinctive style was to pause briefly before whipping a sidearm throw to first base) plus two Silver Sluggers and was a two-time All-Star.

Still, Trillo was probably underrated. On a team full of big stars, his 3.4 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) during the 1980 season trailed only Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Tug McGraw, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

In all the drama that surrounded the Phillies' frantic NLCS win over the Astros that year, it's easy to overlook the fact that Trillo was named the MVP of that series. He batted .381 in five contests with a .935 OPS, including a crucial two-run triple in the top of the eighth in the clinching game.

Even though he batted only .217 against the Royals in the World Series, he helped win Game 5 with a terrific relay throw in the bottom of the sixth that nailed Kansas City catcher Darrell Porter at the plate. Then, in the ninth, his infield hit drove in the winning run.

"Being the MVP was something," he said. "But winning the World Series. ... It was like we were all together and that's something I appreciate more than anything."

Dallas Green, the manager of that team, passed away last spring and was a big part of this past year's Alumni Weekend ceremonies.

"Dallas was my first manager when I came to play ball in the United States," Trillo recalled. "He really was the one who moved me from catcher to shortstop or second base. For me, he was like a father. We always kept in touch. It's hard not to think about the guy who was my first manager and the world champion manager, too. We were always good friends and it was something special."

In 1982, Trillo set a Major League record with 479 consecutive errorless chances. At the same time, he was 31 years old and about to become a free agent. At the end of the season, the Phillies sent Trillo to Cleveland along with Jay Baller, Julio Franco, George Vukovich and Jerry Willard for Von Hayes in the infamous 5-for-1 trade.

Trillo went on to play for the Expos, Giants and Cubs again before ending his 17-year career with the Reds.

Trillo, who turned 67 last Christmas Day, now lives in the Orlando area and enjoys his life immensely. He wouldn't trade his routine with anybody.

"No, no, no, no, no," Trillo said, laughing again. "I worked too hard for this."

Paul Hagen is a contributing author to the Alumni page.

Philadelphia Phillies