Experts say a World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies won't register much on the national scale. But there's one home in Orchard Park where the Fall Classic will have a family's full attention.
Former OP legend Dave Hollins was the starting third baseman for the Phillies in 1993, the last time the franchise made the World Series. Those Phillies lost in historic fashion on Joe Carter's Game Six walk-off home run in Toronto off Mitch Williams, so Hollins is hoping this group can take the step his team couldn't.
The Phillies won the 1993 National League pennant with a Game Six clincher at old Veterans Stadium as Hollins' two-run homer off Greg Maddux sparked a 6-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.
"It's been so exciting watching these guys and it brings back all those great memories of '93," Hollins, 42, said recently by phone. "I saw them jumping around after the last out [of the National League Championship Series in Los Angeles] and I remembered what it was like clinching against Atlanta. We were underdogs and Atlanta was on such a roll [losing the previous two World Series].
Hollins, now a scout for the Baltimore Orioles, homered twice in the '93 NLCS. One was a meaningless shot in the Phillies' 14-3 Game Two loss. The other was a two-run shot in Game Six that was perhaps his signature moment in the big leagues.
It came in the fifth inning with the Phillies nursing a 2-1 lead on behalf of starter Tommy Greene. Fox replayed the home run during its telecast of Game Five of this year's NLCS and Hollins' cell phone started humming with text messages.
The '92 and '93 seasons were Hollins' best years in the majors. He batted .270 with 27 homers and 93 RBIs in '92 and followed up with another big year the next season (.273-18-93), even doubling in his only All-Star Game at-bat against Minnesota's Rick Aguilera in the '93 game in Baltimore.
Hollins noted there were plenty of differences between his Phillies and this group, chiefly that the '93 team was a hodgepodge of trade acquisitions and waiver claims (Hollins himself was a Rule V choice from the Padres). The '08 Phillies have many homegrown products.
"What they have now with guys who have grown up together in the minor leagues is a group that might be really built for the next five years," he said. "With the age of our team and the injuries that set in, we were really one and done after that.
"I really give the Phillies' scouts credit. Those guys have done an unbelieveable job drafting."
Hollins is in his second year as a special assignment scout for the Orioles, responsible for Class A, Double-A, Triple-A and major league reports on the Yankees, Phillies, Indians, Tigers and Pirates. His Indians assignment allows him to spend plenty of time at Dunn Tire Park and he expects to swap one of his teams next year and replace it with the New York Mets, the Bisons' new parent.
On recommendation from Hollins, the Orioles claimed Bisons pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on waivers from Cleveland. He's become Baltimore's most reliable starter.
"Coaching takes you away from the family and I've got five kids [ranging from 3-13] so I really like this," Hollins said. ". . . It's great because this really keeps me in the game."