When Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt was the man: Fan’s rewind

These days Roy Halladay(notes), Cliff Lee(notes), Cole Hamels(notes), Ryan Howard(notes), Chase Utley(notes) and Jimmy Rollins(notes) could each be considered 'The Man' on the current Phillies team.

Schmidt's classic 1980 Topps Baseball Card.
Sean O'Brien

There is no doubt that back in the previous Phillies era, Mike Schmidt ruled the day.

On from Ohio

Schmidt was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1949. The Phillies selected him in the second round of the 1971 amateur draft.

The converted shortstop struggled for 13 games in his first season in 1972.

As part of a rebuilding process, he was given a shot to play regularly in 1973. Interestingly, he actually saw limited action at second base during his first two years in Philadelphia.

14 years of thunder

From 1974 through 1987, Schmidt went on a tear.

During that fourteen year stretch he had ten seasons of home run totals in the 30s, three in the 40s and one in the 20s.

Four of his 38 home runs in 1976 were hit consecutively in one game against the Chicago Cubs. Only fifteen players in baseball history have ever accomplished that feat.

There were nine seasons where he had over 100 RBI's and seven seasons where he had over 100 runs scored.

He was also the 1980 World Series MVP when the Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals to earn their first-ever championship.

Schmidt won back-to-back National League MVP awards in 1980 and 1981 and then won the award a third time, at 36-years-old, in 1986.

Interview

In 1989, Schmidt became the only player in baseball history to be elected to the All Star Game after retirement.

In 1990, I had the chance to interview him for newsletter that I wrote while I was working in the front office for the Phillies Triple-A team in Scranton, Pa. What a great one-hour conversation that was with my childhood hero.

One of the things that he mentioned during our conversation was that he had changed his batting stance and his position in the batters box throughout his career to adjust to pitching trends.

This particular athlete would have succeeded during any baseball era.

Number 20

Even though a number of superb players are currently playing in this great Phillies era, it's likely that any will surpass number 20's longevity or place in team history.

The best Phillies player ever was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

After earning a Communications degree from Penn State in 1990, I started my career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons front office. At that time they were the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A farm team. Follow me on Twitter @ SeanyOB

More from Sean O'Brien and the Yahoo Contributor Network:

The story behind my 1980 Mike Schmidt Topps baseball card

When Baseball Cards were King

Was Babe Ruth the greatest baseball player of all-time?

Max Patkin: What the Clown Prince of baseball once did for me

Summer Vacation Memories: It Shattered the window!

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Updated Friday, Jul 22, 2011