Davey Lopes played 10 seasons in Los Angeles, won one World Series, played in three others, and was Dodger blue through and through.
Now back with the Dodgers as their first base coach, Lopes returned to Citizens Bank Park Monday night and admitted there was something special about Phillies red.
"Yeah, it was a little emotional," Lopes, the former Phils first base coach, said after visiting with Phillies players, coaches, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. before the game. "They're a great bunch of guys. These guys made my life a lot easier the last four years. I can't say enough positive things about them."
Lopes, 66, decided to leave Philadelphia after he could not reach agreement with Amaro on a contract extension following last season. He said at the time that money was the issue, but upon his return he said he had no ill feelings about Amaro or the Phillies.
"It wasn't just [money]," Lopes said. "Was that a part of it? Yes, it was a part of it. I have the utmost respect for Ruben. He did what he felt he had to do, and that's it, so there is no animosity whatsoever."
Lopes said he clearly misses the electricity of the ballpark and its fans.
"I started to feel it last night when we flew in," Lopes said. "Then you see people walking around downtown Philly, and they say: 'Hey, Davey, how you doing? Sorry to see you're not back with us.' The four years I had here were as great as you could possibly have.
"Like I've always said, it was a very difficult decision. I have nothing but great memories of this ballpark and the fans. I consider them the best in baseball. The intensity level coming into the ballpark . . . I miss that tremendously, as you'll see when you go to L.A. with the empty seats. That's something you're not used to seeing in L.A. Neither am I. But this organization, the Phillies, from David Montgomery on down, is first-class. They treated me great."
Lopes spent four seasons as the team's first base coach and received a great deal of credit for the team's success rate at stealing bases. In each of Lopes' four seasons, the Phillies led the National League in stolen-base percentage. They were successful 84 percent of the time (501 for 594) during his tenure. With Sam Perlozzo coaching first base and the running game, the Phillies have been successful on 42 of 50 attempts this season, which is also an 84-percent success rate.
- Bob Brookover