Phillies’ second baseman Manny Trillo was part of the pre-Utley era: A fan’s look

Now that Chase Utley(notes) has gotten himself into playing shape, he has reunited with his double play partner Jimmy Rollins(notes). Those two men are among the best middle infield pairings that the Philadelphia Phillies team has had in its recent history.

Back in time

Trillo seen during his days with the Cubs.
Wikimedia Commons

This current Phillies era has created a new generation of fans because of its future 'Wall of Fame' contributors. For those who don't know, the Phillies Wall of Fame honors historic players with a permanent plaque on a wall in Ashburn Alley. While all on the Wall are not Hall of Fame worthy, their significance in franchise history is enduring.

The most recent Phillies golden era came during the 1970s and early 1980s. Back then shortstop Larry Bowa and second baseman Manny Trillo secured the middle infield at Veterans Stadium for four years.

Jesus Manuel Marcano Trillo

This superb fielder used his middle name, Manuel, and was known as Manny. He was originally signed by the Phillies, when he was a teenager, as an amateur free agent in 1968.

In 1973, Trillo made his major league debut for the Oakland Athletics, who were experiencing quite a golden era of their own at the time. The team had selected him from Philadelphia in the Rule 5 draft in 1969.

After the 1974 season, Trillo was included in a package to the Chicago Cubs that landed the Athletics Hall of Famer Billy Williams. Williams went on to play the last two seasons of his career in Oakland before retiring.

Chicago to Philadelphia

The trade played out well for the Cubs and for Trillo. In his first season in Chicago, which was also his first full season in the big leagues, he finished third in the National League's Rookie of the Year award balloting.

He had his first All-Star year in 1977 and a solid season in 1978, before the Phillies reacquired their old friend in a package deal. That trade saw him swap second base gloves with Ted Sizemore, who packed his bags and boarded a plane for the windy city. The move was part of an organizational shakeup in Philadelphia that came after three straight National League Pennant losing seasons.

Prime time

Playing in the prime of his career, Trillo won three Gold Glove awards, two Silver Slugger awards and also made the All-Star on two different occasions. His efforts to help the Phillies win the 1980 National League Pennant, considered by many to be one the greatest baseball playoff series of all-time, are cemented in the memories of all long-time fans.

The Phillies traded Trillo in 1982, along with four other players, for Von Hayes. That deal happened after a season where he played 149 games at second base and made only 5 errors. His .994 fielding percentage was the highest of his career.

The Venezuelan native played a total of 17 years in the major leagues and retired in 1989.

Growing up in the Philadelphia region during the late 1970s and early 1980s naturally enabled everyone to become Phillies fans. My friends and I learned the game on little league fields, through trading cards and by playing APBA. Immediately after graduating from Penn State in 1990, I started my career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons front office. At that time they were the Phillies Triple A farm team. Follow me on Twitter @ SeanyOB

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Updated Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011