PHILADELPHIA - Jim Fregosi and Lee Thomas sat in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Center City like proud parents Saturday morning.
They watched as players from the 1993 Phillies caught up with each other, shared stories from the past and posed for pictures with their families.
"If you see how they act together," Fregosi said, "they haven't changed a damn bit. It's really a beautiful thing."
The 1993 Phillies continue to be one of the most popular teams in Philadelphia sports history.
The team, which won the National League pennant, featured popular players such as Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulton and John Kruk. Fregosi was the manager and Thomas the general manager.
Most of the 1993 players were introduced to the crowd before the Phillies played the Braves on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
The introductions were part of the Phillies annual Alumni Weekend, which this year celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1993 team.
Fregosi, Thomas and 1993 players second baseman Mickey Morandini and pitcher Danny Jackson met with the media before the introductions.
"When we see each other it's like a family," Jackson said. "I don't have this type of relationship with any other team."
For Phillies fans now between the ages of 30 and 45, the 1993 team was the first winner they saw. Many of those fans - who now make up the core of Phillies supporters - were too young to remember the 1980 or 1983 teams.
"We were all hard-nose players. We were down to earth," Jackson said. "We were supposed to be the outcast. We were supposed to be the no-good, beer drinking, womanizing players. But I think the fans saw how we gave everything and did everything we could to even get ourselves out on the field."
The Phillies finished 97-65 in 1993. They upset the Atlanta Braves four games to two in the National League Championship.
The Phillies lost the World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays four games to two when Toronto's Joe Carter won Game Six with a walk-off home run against Phillies reliever Mitch Williams.
Williams, who's now a broadcaster for the Major League Baseball network, was nicknamed the "Wild Thing" in part because he was shaky in closing situations often putting batters on base before escaping the jam.
Fregosi made it clear 20 years later that he doesn't regret using Williams in those spots.
"Without Mitch Williams we would have never gotten to where we got," Fregosi said. "You don't get to a certain stage and say, 'Now, I'm going to get (rid) of a guy.' I couldn't do that. I have no second guessing feeling about using Mitch. He never one time did not take up the ball. He was always there."
But it was more than the success on the field that endeared the 1993 Phillies to fans.
They were characters. With shaggy hair and less than perfect physiques, they didn't look like prototypical baseball players. Their appearance earned them the nickname "Macho Row."
They stayed in the clubhouse after games and hung out with each other. Jackson celebrated big wins by ripping off his shirt and flexing his muscles like the Incredible Hulk.
"They were a group of really tough guys," Fregosi said. "We had great leadership. Daulton was a key to that. I could call Daulton into my office and tell him what I wanted. He'd go back in the clubhouse and get it done one way or another."
The success on the field was unexpected. The Phillies won just 70 games in 1992. Before 1993, the Phillies hadn't finished above .500 since they were 86-75 in 1986.
But the 1993 Phillies started fast. They spent all but one day of the season in first place.
"We got off to such a good start," Morandini said, "that all the fans (jumped) on early. They got on the bandwagon early and never got disappointed."
And it wasn't just that the team won. It was how they won. The 1993 Phillies were involved in several dramatic and sometimes wacky contests.
They rallied from an 8-0 deficit to beat the San Francisco Giants 9-8 on April 26. Outfielder Milt Thompson made a leaping catch over the fence to take away a potential grand slam and preserve a 5-3 win over the San Diego Padres on April 29.
On July 2, they split a double header against the Padres that lasted nearly 12 hours because of rain delays. Williams won the second game with an RBI single at 4:41 a.m. on July 3.
The 1993 Phillies were also like a brilliant shooting star. They couldn't sustain their success. After that season, they wouldn't finish above .500 again until they went 86-76 in 2001.
"That (1993) was the only year that everybody stayed healthy," Fregosi said. "The other years I knew if we could stay healthy we would have a hell of a club. But some guys had age on them. Other guys had a history of injuries. We just couldn't stay healthy."
Fans roared as the 1993 Phillies were introduced before Saturday's game. Daulton, who is recovering from surgery for brain tumors, was introduced last and got the biggest ovation.
"I say a prayer for (Daulton) every day," Fregosi said.
Dykstra, who has had a myriad of legal troubles, did not attend the festivities. He was released from a California prison in June after serving time for bankruptcy fraud.
"I don't know what happened to Lenny, but he was great for us," Thomas said.
Jackson epitomizes the 1993 team's appeal. He spent just two years in Philadelphia. Jackson pitched on teams that won the World Series in Kansas City in 1985 and in Cincinnati in 1990.
He can walk the streets of those towns in relative anonymity. That doesn't happen in Philadelphia.
"When I walk around here," Jackson said, "the (fans) know who I am, especially when I take off my shirt."
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