Monday, February 8, 2010
#553) TONY PHILLIPS
Tony Phillips was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Mets in exchange for Leo Estrella on July 31, 1998. It seems that he was destined to wear the Mets' blue and orange that year. The team had been in contract talks with the free agent prior to the start of the season. A discussion that ended when an agreement over compensation could not be reached. Complicating things was the fact that the 15-year veteran had been arrested for cocaine possession while a member of the Anaheim Angels on August 10, 1997. Tony pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was now beginning to turn his life around. The Mets wanted to ensure their investment with several guarantees he was indeed doing just that. "If he (Mets general manager, Steve Phillips) wanted me to be a Met, I could have been a Met." Tony would say at the time, "That's the bottom line. We are not talking about millions and millions of dollars here."
Tony would not get a contract offer until he joined the Blue Jays on July 1, 1998. "He's lived up to every aspect of his after-care program." Steve Phillips would report. So after 12 days playing for Toronto he was finally heading to New York to end the season. "I made a mistake." the fiery infielder told the New York Press, "But I still have my dignity." Tony appeared in 52 games to finish the year with a .223 batting average. Phillips left as a free agent to the Oakland A's after he felt the Mets were unwilling to offer an appropriate contract for 1999.
Tony Phillips signed his card in the set for my friend Tony at the Molina Jewelers Celebrity Baseball Game in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 31, 2010.