PHILADELPHIA -- The highlight reel created by the 1993 Phillies is a long one. They are images this town won't forget: sealing a National League East title in Pittsburgh with first baseman John Kruk fielding a ground ball off the bat of the Pirates' Dave Clark, and Mitch Williams leaping skyward, pumping his fist after striking out the Braves' Bill Pecota to send the Phils to the World Series.
"I get to see that highlight a whole lot more now," Williams joked on Saturday afternoon. The current Phillies have seen plenty of highlights and heard plenty of stories about their 1993 counterparts. The two teams were both able to captivate the city by reaching the World Series, but they're not carbon copies. "These guys are totally different," said Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson, who was an outfielder on the 1993 squad. "These guys are special." One of the biggest differences, Williams noted, is that the current team is poised for the repeat success that eluded the '93 squad. Homegrown talent was largely responsible for getting the Phillies to this year's Fall Classic. All four of the team's marquee hitters -- first baseman Ryan Howard, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, second baseman Chase Utley and left fielder Pat Burrell -- were selected by the Phillies in the First-Year Player Draft. That group should stay intact for awhile, unless Burrell leaves as a free agent after the season. The '93 Phils were built mostly through trades and free-agent acquisitions. The offseason before that campaign was an especially busy one for the front office. The team scooped up free agents Thompson, reliever Larry Andersen and outfielders Pete Incaviglia and Jim Eisenreich. Two offseason trades bolstered the staff, as starter Danny Jackson came over from the Marlins and reliever David West from the Twins. Jackson turned in 210 1/3 innings for the Phils that season, while West appeared in 76 games out of the bullpen, recording a 2.92 ERA in the process. Only five players on the Phillies' 1993 playoff roster were products of the First-Year Player Draft, according to the book "Worst To First: The Story of the 1993 Phillies," written by the staff of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Those five players were catcher Darren Daulton (drafted in 1980), first baseman Ricky Jordan (1983) utility infielder Kim Batiste (1987), second baseman Mickey Morandini (1988) and shortstop Kevin Stocker (1991). "We were built in 1993 over the winter," Williams said. "They didn't know what they were getting. We were a bunch of castoff that just came together and just happened to fit. You knew it wasn't going to be a dynasty." And it wasn't. After capturing the '93 NL pennant, the Phillies endured seven consecutive losing seasons. "This team is built to win for awhile," Williams said. "Our team was built to win that year." The current Phillies squad doesn't have one undisputed team leader. They're known to follow more of a leader-by-committee model, in which a corps of players -- especially the mainstays Burrell, Howard, Utley and Rollins -- assume leadership duties. That wasn't the case in 1993, when Daulton was the guy everyone on the team wanted to follow. "When he speaks, everyone listens," Andersen told the Inquirer in 1993. He has a presence about him. It's like he's the godfather, and we're all a bunch of thugs." Of course, the Phillies of '08 pride themselves on having received key contributions from up and down the roster throughout the year. Whether it's Greg Dobbs coming off the bench for a key pinch-hit or Eric Bruntlett filling in for the injured Rollins earlier this year, everyone has chipped in. And for this team, that just means the highlight reel is getting longer. "This team is the epitome of the word 'team,'" Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas said. "Even when our key guys -- witness the Division Series and League Championship Series -- Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard struggled, others picked them up. And that's the way it's been all year."
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.