A year ago, Utley's longtime double-play partner, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, returned to Philadelphia for the first time, also in Dodger blue. Philly fans welcomed him with a standing ovation when he stepped to the plate for the first time, and an encore is in order for Utley. Rollins was L.A.'s leadoff hitter, and that's where Utley has been batting for most of this season.
Utley wore a Phillies uniform for 13 seasons, compiling a .282 average, with 346 doubles, 233 home runs and 916 RBIs in 1,551 games. He ranks among the team's top 10 in 12 offensive categories -- an indication of his all-around skills. Utley is the club's all-time black and blue leader, having been hit by a pitch 173 times, and his hustle every day can't be measured in numbers.
Utley excelled in the postseason. In 46 games, he leads the Phillies in runs (38) and walks (34), and he is second in home runs (10), tied for second in total bases (82) and stolen bases (10), third in extra-base hits (18) and RBIs (25) and fourth in at-bats (164) and hits (32).
When Utley homered in the postseason, the Phillies were 7-1.
"Chase is going to keep going and he's safe at home plate! Chase Utley, you … ARE … the man!" was the call by Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas when Utley scored from second base on a routine groundout against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 9, 2006. During the '09 World Series, Utley was "the man" offensively, turning in a record-setting performance.
It is the greatest offensive show of any Phillies player in the Fall Classic -- Utley hit five home runs in five games to tie Reggie Jackson's 1977 record. He became only the second player with a pair of two-homer games in one World Series.
The year before, Utley homered in his first World Series at-bat, the 34th player to do so, and he also went deep in Game 3 that fall. His seven home runs leave him tied for 10th on baseball's all-time list.
A year ago, Greg Casterioto, director of baseball communications for the Phillies, wrote a Phillies Magazine story on Utley's 10 most memorable moments -- which turned out to be a dozen. We narrowed it to his top six:
6. Oct. 22, 2008 -- Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.
"Obviously, we were playing on the biggest stage in all of baseball, and it was something we worked for all year long and we were able to get there. More than anything else, the amount of media and the attention makes it stick out in my head. Once the game got started, it's all the same as any other day, but leading up to the game there are … more things to do."
5. May 11, 2006 -- Aaron Rowand made a game-saving catch, but in the process, he crashed into the outfield wall at Citizens Bank Park and he broke his nose.
"Aaron is one of the ultimate team players I've ever had the pleasure to play alongside of. He obviously sacrificed his body to make the catch and we ended up winning the game. It was a low-scoring game, so that was a huge play in the game. It wasn't a playoff game, it wasn't win or go home, but that didn't matter to him. Aaron and I are still close friends to this day, and to see someone like that get hurt and put his body on the line for the sake of the team showed the type of person and player that he is."
4. April 4, 2003 -- Utley made his Major League debut by pinch-hitting for starting pitcher Joe Roa against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final home opener at Veterans Stadium.
"It was a pinch-hit appearance off Jeff Suppan and we were down by, like, at least five runs, and I struck out and got booed back to the dugout which made it a proper start to my Phillies career. I got sent down [to the Minor Leagues] two days later."
3. Oct. 29, 2008 -- After a historic 46-hour rain delay, the Phillies won their second World Series championship in franchise history.
"Game 5, Part 2 was exciting from the first batter. When Geoff Jenkins led off with a double and got into scoring position, the crowd was going crazy. There was a lot of excitement in the air to play three innings of baseball. I remember it was cold, but the fans were our 10th man out there. We definitely needed them to be successful, and they were there for us. It all worked out."
2. April 24, 2003 -- In Utley's first Major League start, he was batting eighth in the lineup -- while his childhood hero, Jim Thome, was batting fifth. Utley collected his first Major League hit, a grand slam in the third inning off the Rockies' Aaron Cook.
"You know what I remember most about that day? My first hit was a grand slam, and the fans didn't boo me (laughing)."
1. Sept. 30, 2007 -- The Phillies won the National League East division title on the final day of the 2007 season, breaking their 14-year playoff drought.
"The crowd was going crazy that day, even before we took the field. I remember watching the scoreboard during warmups, because the Mets had to lose [for us to clinch] and the Marlins scored seven runs against them in the first inning. It was nuts. Jimmy got his 20th triple of the year, which was something everyone wanted to see him get. And then in our ninth inning, Brett Myers was pitching and Wily Mo Pena was the hitter, and the next thing I knew, we were going to the playoffs. I remember in that ninth inning, though, playing second base and trying to take it all in and how loud the fans were and how excited they were. We were excited to finally accomplish something we had set out to do for a number of years. The chips had to fall in our favor up to that point, and they did. That is something that I will definitely never forget. It was very cool."
Well, Utley, you are someone Phillies fans will never forget.