Mickey Morandini etched his name into Phillies lore 25 years ago when he turned the first unassisted triple play in team history in a game against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.
The anniversary of the event arrived during a Phillies homestand two weeks ago. Video of the play appeared on Phanavision between innings of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Morandini, the Phillies' first base coach the last two seasons, watched the video from the top step of the dugout, then was a little overwhelmed when the crowd gave him a loud ovation. Morandini has always been a fan favorite. He waved in appreciation to the crowd as he made his way to the first base coaching box.
"These fans have always been great to me," the 51-year-old former second baseman said before Sunday's season finale. "That's why I love it here. The organization has been great to me. I have great relationships here."
Morandini completed his 19th year in a Phillies uniform Sunday and now heads into a period of uncertainty. The team announced on Friday that Pete Mackanin would not return as manager in 2018. General manager Matt Klentak told members of the coaching staff that they were "free agents." They can go strike a deal with another club or wait and see if the new manager would like to interview them for a spot on the new staff.
The organization would like to retain Larry Bowa, most recently bench coach, in a yet to be specified role, according to a source. He is expected to speak with team leaders in the near future.
Klentak has already begun his managerial search and the early list of hot names includes his fellow Dartmouth alum Brad Ausmus, who was recently let go by the Detroit Tigers, and two current big-league bench coaches, Tim Bogar of the Seattle Mariners and Gary DiSarcina of the Boston Red Sox. Both spent some time working in the Los Angeles Angels organization when Klentak was an assistant GM there.
Surely, Klentak's list of candidates is long.
Morandini hopes to work for the new manager.
"My number one choice would be to be on the big-league staff," he said. "I still want to coach. But I'd be open to other options. I'm only 51. I still have a lot to offer."
During his 19 years in a Phillies uniform, Morandini has been a player, a minor-league manager and coach and a big-league coach. During his time as part of the minor-league staff, he worked with many of the players that are now beginning to bloom in Philadelphia.
"I've been with a lot of these guys since 2011," he said. "I feel part of the rebuild. I love it here. I love the organization. I want to see the rebuild through.
"From the first half to the second half of this season, we improved a lot. Obviously, good things are happening. And we've done it with only one pitcher from our opening day rotation. The bullpen stepped up. Some of the young guys came up and played well.
"It's going to be exciting. It's not a finished product, but it's getting there."
Morandini played through pain in 2017. He has an arthritic left hip — "bone on bone," he said — but still managed to throw batting practice. He'll be pain-free next season. He is scheduled to have the hip replaced on October 17.
"Once I get my new hip I'll be sprinting again," he said with a laugh. "I can't wait to be able to run and work out again."