CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Manny Trillo guesses he has worn his World Series ring just 10 times, removing it from the safe in his Florida home only for special occasions or a friend who wanted to see it.
“I don’t like to wear rings,” he said.
Trillo might not wear his, but the Phillies might not have earned that ring -- 10-karat gold with a diamond-encrusted “P” atop a ruby -- in 1980 without his heroics. And it was his play that October that helped Trillo on Saturday become the newest member of the team’s Wall of Fame.
“I was waiting for that moment. I’ve been waiting 15, 20 years,” said Trillo, who played four seasons with the Phillies and retired in 1989 with Cincinnati. “I always wondered. Now, they changed the rules. And I’m so happy. This is kind of like another World Series.”
The Phillies will induct Trillo in a pregame ceremony Aug. 8 at Citizens Bank Park. The team recently changed its guidelines for the Wall of Fame, no longer mandating that candidates had to play at least five seasons with the team.
Trillo’s induction will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the 1980 champions. The team will have an Aug. 9 reunion.
“It’s been 40 years now. I’m very happy and excited, and I’ll be happy to see my teammates. It’s too bad that we won’t be able to see two great men. Dallas Green and Ruben Amaro,” Trillo said, his voice breaking as he remembered Green, the 1980 manager, and Amaro, the 1980 first-base coach.
“Those two guys were really fathers to me in baseball. Dallas Green helped me in the minors and the majors. Ruben Amaro was the guy who helped me in the majors and was just really close to me. I treated them both like fathers. It’s too bad that they’re not here. I’m sorry.”
In four seasons with the Phillies, Trillo hit .277 and was twice an All-Star. He was one of baseball’s premier defenders, winning a Gold Glove in 1979, 1981, and 1982. His .994 fielding percentage in 1982 was tops among second basemen. And he played the position with flair, often holding onto the ball until the last moment before snapping a throw to first.
“I’d have a few guys running to first, and they’d be yelling ‘Throw the ball. Throw the ball. Please, throw the ball.’ But I couldn’t,” Trillo said. “I say, ‘Why so hurried?’ If I’m so close to first base, I can get rid of the ball quick. That was my style, and I had to make sure I made a good throw.”
Trillo was the MVP of the 1980 NLCS after going 8-for-21 against the Astros with four RBIs.
In Game 5, he made a perfect relay from shallow right field in the second inning to throw out Luis Pujols at home. In the top of the eighth, the Phillies trailed by three runs against Nolan Ryan, but Trillo lined a two-out triple down the left-field line for a 7-5 lead. . The Astros tied it, but the Phillies rallied again in the 10th to win the pennant.
Trillo said third base coach Lee Elia, was so excited that he bit Trillo on the arm after he slid into the bag.
“I don’t think I really felt that bite, because I was so happy that I hit the triple and got those RBIs,” Trillo said. “We went ahead. The only feeling I had was that I was so happy that I did it.”
The Phillies acquired Trillo during spring training in 1979. He reported to Clearwater that February after coming over in a seven-player trade with the Cubs.
His arrival gave the Phillies an All-Star at first base, second base, shortstop, third base, and catcher. It also meant that Mike Schmidt could return to third base -- the Phillies were trying him at second base before they landed Trillo.
“I felt like I was the rookie,” Trillo said. “Because you had Pete Rose, you had [Larry] Bowa, you had [catcher Bob] Boone, you Mike Schmidt. They were in the big leagues long before I got there. I learned a lot, because if there was something that I needed to be better at, I would ask those guys.”
A year later, the trade paid off. Trillo was the MVP of the NLCS, and Schmidt, playing his natural position, was the MVP of the World Series. They received their championship rings the following April.
Forty years later, they’ll gather again. Perhaps it will be the right occasion for Trillo to wear his ring again.