Ex-York countian, ex-Phillie Greg Gross: ‘I’m jealous not to be sitting there in the dugout with them’
Goldsboro’s Greg Gross played for 17 seasons with the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, ending his Major League Baseball playing career in 1989. He has strong coaching links with several Phillies playing in the World Series. Background posts: Adding to York baseball timeline: Revs ready for ‘second helping’, Sol and Brooks lead long York County sports parade and Lineup full of sports stars with York County links.
York County native Greg Gross reminds you of fellow county major leaguer Butch Wynegar.
Gross attended Red Land High School. Wynegar graduated from Red Lion. Their eventful major league careers overlapped… .
Gross played in the outfield for the final outs of the World Series in 1980.
In 1976, Wynegar became the youngest player to appear in an All-Star game at that time. The catcher later worked behind the plate for Dave Righetti’s no-hitter in 1983 and Phil Neikro’s 300th victory in 1985.
Both now coach in the minor leagues. Wynegar is hitting coach for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Gross serves as batting coach of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Gross is familiar with many members of the Phillies, now vying for the World Series championship, as described in the following article from the York Daily Record/Sunday News (10/26/08):
The 2008 World Series was a little more than 36 hours from its first pitch when Greg Gross picked up the telephone in his Chester County home earlier this week.
And as he spoke about his experiences as an outfielder and pinch hitter in the 1980 and 1983 fall classics with the Philadelphia Phillies, it didn’t take long to realize how much the World Series meant to him.
“I’m jealous not to be sitting there in the dugout with them,” Gross said of the National League champions. “It’s the biggest stage in baseball, and it’s definitely nice to see the team back in the Series after such a long time.
“Hopefully they’ll do the things they need to do to keep their momentum going and come out on top.”
Gross, the Goldsboro native and 1970 Red Land High School graduate, won a World Series ring with the 1980 Phils as part of his 17-year major-league career.
He also played on the 1983 squad that won Game 1 in Baltimore before losing
four straight to the Orioles in Cal Ripken’s rookie season.
The 56-year-old Gross knows an awful lot about the 2008 Phillies, having spent the 2001 season as their bench coach and serving as their hitting coach from 2002-2004.
He remained with the organization as a developmental coach and spent this past season as the hitting coach of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
Having also worked with the Double-A Reading Phillies, too, Gross has coached plenty of players on manager Charlie Manuel’s current roster.
“It’s nice to see guys you’ve worked with have success, reaching this level of play,” Gross said, referring to Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino, among others. “Until a player gets to this point in these World Series games, they really don’t know what it’s going to be like.
“Only two teams a year get a chance to experience it, and it’s something some players never experience. Look at Jamie Moyer. This is his first chance in what’s been a long career.”
While Gross was part of the Phillies’ lone World Series title team that beat the Kansas City Royals in six games 28 years ago, he still cherishes the experience of playing against the Orioles, too.
“Just getting there is something special,” Gross said. “I don’t feel any less about 1983 than I do about 1980. Sure, we won one and lost the other, but I don’t view it as failure. Getting there is really tough, and it’s something that should be celebrated.
“I think if you were to ask most of the guys I played with on those teams, they would tell you the same thing, too.”
Gross, a West Chester resident, said the 2008 Phillies remind him in many ways of manager Dallas Green’s 1980 squad.
“Everyone contributes to this team, which is what happened with us in 1980,” Gross said. “They battled the Mets right to the end again, and we were in a tight race most of the year. Steve Carlton gave us pitching like they’re getting from Cole Hamels.
“Our bullpen was very effective with Ron Reed and Tug McGraw, and that’s what you’re seeing now from Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge.”
In Rollins, Utley and Ryan Howard, the 2008 Phillies possess an infield nucleus similar to the Larry Bowa, Manny Trillo, Mike Schmidt trio from 1980.
Even so, there’s no guarantee Manuel’s team will find a way to beat the Tampa Bay Rays. Pete Rose isn’t about to appear to catch a foul pop that slips from Carlos Ruiz’s mitt like he did with Bob Boone.
“The whole season is a grind getting to this point in the postseason,” Gross said. “People can write, talk and speculate about which team should win, but it all boils down to which team plays better in the World Series. And it could be either one.”