Just saw that Don Demeter died, surprised [maybe few here realize it] that no one mentioned that his best years and 40% of his career was spent as a Philadelphia Phillie. In fact, he played more games as a Phillie than with any other team. Its true he started as a Brooklyn Dodger [though he played only 3 games there] and was a member of the 1959 World Series Champion LA Dodgers but it was his time with the Phillies [1961-63] where he not only had his greatest success but was one of the key guys in turning the formerly moribund Phils into pennant contenders.
He was dealt to the Phils in early 1961 and was a charter member of the group that lost 23 straight games that year. Still, he played well and hit 20 home runs. But it was in 1962 that Demeter saw his greatest success. He hit .307, swatted over 20 home runs [Phils had 4 players hit 20+ that year] and was, along with right fielder Johnny Callison and righty Art Mahaffey, the main reason the team improved by an astounding 34 games, going from 47 wins to 81 victories.
Demeter's 1963 wasn't quite as good but he still was a solid regular for a team that won 87 games and defeated the World Champion Dodgers 11 of 18 times. That Phillie team finished the year 56-35 and no less than Dodger GM Buzzie Bavasi said the NL "might as well let the Phillies go to the World Series since they are the best team in the league right now." He made those comments in September.
Alas, that was to be Demeter's final year as a Phillie, he would finish his career in the AL. Still, his time as a Phillie was memorable, impactful and important. So was his leaving? Why was that you ask? In December 1963 he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, a move that was highly celebrated in Detroit, met with some skepticism in Philadelphia as he was leaving a huge hole at 3rd base.
Worry not, it worked out pretty well for the Phils. He was dealt for pitcher Jim Bunning and a youngster named Richie Allen [his name then] took over at 3rd base. One is in the HOF now and one should get in this Sunday. And both contributed mightily to a near miss NL title in 1964.
So rest in peace, Don Demeter. Those who remember you appreciated not only what you gave to the Phillies on the field but what you gave them upon your departure.