Former MLB player Tony Phillips laces up the cleats again — even at 56
Tony Phillips had a remarkably consistent MLB career. He played 18 seasons with six different organizations, starting with the Oakland Athletics in 1982 before moving around the league and, eventually, finishing his career in 1999 with a return engagement with the Green & Gold.
He retired after the ’99 season at 40, but his competitive spirit never wavered after hanging up his cleats.
That’s partly why Phillips, now 56, signed a contract with the Pittsburg Diamonds, an independent club in the Bay Area, to play second base.
According to the Bay Area News Group’s Nate Gartrell, Phillips is giving it another shot in part due to a bet. Specifically, Phillips told Gartrell, he made a bet back when he was coaching a few years ago that he could play for a team in the Dominican Republic — even at his age: "This kid was busting my chops and said, ‘I guarantee you can’t play in the Dominican Republic,’ so I took on that challenge and I haven’t stopped yet. I couldn’t have had this opportunity if I had been sitting on my (expletive) these 4 to 5 years."
Phillips last played in 2011 for an independent team in Arizona, and he’s hopeful he’ll be able to stay healthy enough to actually play with the Diamonds. When asked about his hopes of getting on the field, Phillips — always one to fire from the hip and speak openly — responded with the following gem: "Am I gonna play? Hell yeah, I ain’t comin’ down there for vacation, you stupid. I could stay here and sit on my (expletive) if that’s what I wanted to do. I’m coming out there to play."
Aaron Miles, former MLB player and manager of the Pittsburg Diamonds, is looking forward to Phillips’ presence, as he told Gartrell, "I think it’s going to be absolutely wonderful for every one of our players to be able to pick his mind. As far as him and his ability to play every day at this level at this age, that remains to be seen."
Perhaps more than his desire to still play, Phillips said he was looking forward to playing ball again in Bay Area, a region with which he’s intimately familiar: "I grew up in Oakland; I was a kid when I went there and I stayed for six years. I feel that’s home for me."
In a fun twist, the Pittsburg Diamonds are the organization that signed Jose Canseco to a three-day contract earlier this season. He’ll reportedly return there for the season’s final three games, according to the Contra Costa Times, setting up the possibility of Canseco and Phillips playing together once again.