Monday, June 2, 2008

Mike Lieberthal Retires as a Phillie

Last Sunday, Mike Lieberthal, who played last year for the Dodgers, signed a minor league contract with the Phillies for $4, then retired.

“I spent 17 years of my life and put everything that I had into baseball and into the Phillies,” said Lieberthal. “I know I finished (last season) with the Dodgers, but I was still a Phillie at heart. I did watch pretty much every game that was on TV, and I still do. The Phillies are definitely deep in my heart.”

Mike was the Phillies 1st round draft pick (third pick overall) in 1990. He made his major league debut on June 30, 1994. He played 13 seasons with the Phillies, all as a catcher. He caught 1,139 games for the Phillies, more than any other catcher. Darren Daulton caught 965 games for the Phillies, prior to Lieberthal. Daulton's and Lieberthal's careers with the Phillies overlapped from 1994 to 1997, when Mike became the full time starting catcher.

Mike was pretty productive in his career. Both he and Daulton played 13 years with the Phillies. Lieberthal's average was 0.274 with 150 home runs, 610 RBIs and 257 doubles. Daulton's stats were 0.245/137/588/197. He was a 2-time All-Star and a Gold Glove winner.

Lieberthal's big regret about his Phillie's career is that he never reached the playoffs. His career was book ended by the 1993 World Series team and the 2007 NL East championship team. “That was kind of ironic,” he said. “Everyone tells me how special (the playoffs) are, and that’s what playing is all about. That’s probably the one thing that I wish we had when I was here.”

After signing his contract he put on his old #24 uniform and threw out the ceremonial first pitch of Sunday's game against the Marlins. Club president Dave Montgomery said of Lieberthal, "Mike played here for a long time, and for me, it went beyond that. It was a real friendship," said Montgomery. "In many ways, Mike was the face of the franchise for a number of years because of the continuity he brought. He always played hard. He cared about the community. This seemed like the right thing to do."

I got the quotations for this piece from

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