By Paul Hagen
Tommy Greene is happy.
Which doesn’t sound like a remarkable statement until you consider that when he was just 26 years old, the big right-hander went 16-4 with a 3.42 ERA for an underdog Phillies team in 1993 that made it all the way to the World Series. He started 30 games that magical season. His future seemed unlimited.
And that he started a total of 15 more big league games in his career, sabotaged by shoulder problems that led to three surgeries. He made his last appearance for the Astros on July 4, 1997. He was still just 30 years old.
“At one time I was a bitter, angry guy,” Greene said during Philadelphia Phillies Alumni Weekend at Citizens Bank Park. “There’s one guy who was a big help for me. [Phillies employee assistance professional] Dickie Noles. He called me and he asked me how I was doing. And I told him. I was down in Clearwater at the time and he was on a plane the next day. This was while I was still with the organization. And it changed me. He got me with some people I could talk about it with. I didn’t like to look at baseball anymore. I didn’t want to be around. I didn’t keep up with nothing. I was angry because I felt like it had been taken away from me. I had always worked hard to prevent injuries. And it kept happening. It was very humbling.
“It didn’t take long. But once I got it in my head that I was doing all I could do, it was okay. When I walked away, I was good with it. I do love the game. I miss playing it at the level I’ve played it at. But I’ve done all I can do. I can walk away and say, ‘Hey, I gave it all I have to do it.’ I tried to persevere, but it just wasn’t in the cards at the time. Life moves forward. That’s the way I dealt with it, and it was good.”
Life wasn’t through throwing Greene curves, though. In 2010 his wife, Lori, passed away.