After 16 years, former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf has decided to retire.
My first and some of my fondest memories of the Philadelphia Phillies begin with Randy Wolf and his “Wolf Pack.” I remember attending my first Phillies’ game at Citizens Bank Park with Wolf on the mound and the “Wolf Pack” in the outfield, nosebleed bleachers.
As a young player myself, Randy Wolf was a living testament for myself and for young Philadelphians that a pitcher did not necessarily need to make the catcher’s mitt pop to get batters out. Wolf relied on his pinpoint location on the black and a plethora of off-speed pitches, most notably his knuckle curve reaching the low 70s on the gun, to get batters out. Randy Wolf quickly became a role model for me and other youngsters around Philadelphia, and when his stint in Philly came to an end in 2006, his loss was felt. Wolf was a memorable Phillie, and one which the entire city was able to get behind.
Drafted by the Phillies in 1997 in the second round, Wolf was primed to make his debut in the Show shortly after being drafted. After just about two years in the minors, he made his debut in Philadelphia in early June of 1999.
In his eight year tenure in Philadelphia, Wolf was never a dominating presence: he was short in posture, small in frame, and without overpowering arm strength. Despite his underwhelming presence, he was an extremely consistent workhorse on the mound, and that is all that Philadelphia fans have ever asked for. Wolf started over 30 games in three of his eight seasons with the Phillies, while starting in at least 20 games leading up to his injury in 2005.
In his time with the Phillies, Wolf registered a 4.41 ERA, won 69 games, struck out 971 batters, while pitching in a total of 194 games. Randy Wolf’s best two years as a Phillie, and arguably the best in his career, were in 2002 and in 2003. In 2002, he recorded 11 wins, with his lowest career ERA of 3.20, coupled with three complete games and 172 strikeouts. In 2003, Wolf made his sole All-Star Game appearance after garnering the most wins in his career. In his All-Star season, the Phillies’ ace recorded 16 wins, which was paired with 177 strikeouts, another career high.
Along with his tireless work on the mound, the southpaw struck more fear into opposing pitcher’s hearts than most other pitchers at the plate. Most notably, in 2004, Randy Wolf hit three home runs, batted home eight runs, and had a .267 batting average.
On a historical note, as the Phillies’ ace, Randy Wolf was the first pitcher to take the mound at Citizens Bank Park on April 12, 2004, which cements the slow-throwing southpaw in Philadelphia Phillies’ history. On Opening Day 2004, Randy Wolf unfortunately took the loss to the Cincinnati Reds in a low scoring affair.
After leaving the Phillies in 2006, Randy Wolf played with 11 other ball clubs across the league. The Phillies’ ace finished his colorful career with 133 wins, 1,814 punch outs, and an ERA of 4.24.
Although Randy Wolf will never be forgotten in Philadelphia Phillies’ history as a result of his 2004 opening day start, he will nonetheless forever be remembered as Philadelphia Phillie. Wolf’s dedication and whole-hearted devotion to Philadelphia will keep him in the hearts of every Phillies’ fan.
Wolf once told his fans that his theme is this, “Is it worth it to get out there a month early when I want to pitch 10 more years?” The Wolfman surely kept his word some years later.
Randy Wolf and the “Wolf Pack” will forever live on in the shadows of Citizens Bank Park.