All great things eventually come to an end, and unfortunately for Jimmy Rollins, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Phillies’ fans that grew up with Rollins as their idol, their 15-year relationship has done just that. While Jimmy Rollins may not be in a Phillies uniform in 2015, and while he may not make his daily trot out to shortstop in Citizens Bank Park, he will forever be the man who led the Phillies through the best five-year stretch in franchise history from 2007-2011 that included a World Series in 2008. The Phillies’ all-time leader in hits will now be playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the inevitable rebuiliding is now in full effect, and it started with an emotional sting to a fan base that saw the change coming but never knew the true feeling of change until now.
Not too many athletes talk the talk and then walk the walk, and this is especially the case in Philadelphia, a city that has only seen five combined championships from their four professional teams. However, Jimmy Rollins was different. Jimmy Rollins was the first star athlete to win a championship in Philadelphia (along with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels) since Dr. J did it in 1983 with the Sixers. Jimmy Rollins proclaimed the Phillies as “the team to beat” in the N.L. East before the 2007 season, and he followed through with that promise. From his Major League debut in 2000, all the way up to 2014, Rollins always played with an attitude and charisma. Phillies’ fans would often get frustrated when Rollins did not fully run out a ground ball hit to second base, or popped up on the first-pitch, yet Rollins kept doing his thing. Rollins only cared about winning once he stepped on the field, and at times, he cared about winning too much that he let personal frustration get in the way after rolling a ball over to second, and that frustration trickled down to the fan base. Jimmy Rollins had a “swagger” he carried with him on a daily basis as he was always out to prove those who doubted him wrong.
When Rollins was drafted, many MLB scouts said he was too small and that his swing was not methodic enough to allow his consistent success at the big level. Could those scouts have been anymore wrong? Rollins debuted as a Phillie in 2000, and ended his 15 years with 2,306 hits, 887 RBIs, 479 doubles, 453 stolen bases, 111 triples, 216 home runs, four Gold Gloves, and one MVP award. But if you asked Jimmy, he would say he most important accomplishments were the five straight N.L. East division titles, two N.L. pennants, and of course, the 2008 World Series championship.
Traveling to Citizens Bank Park felt like an obligation from 2007-2011, and that was due in part to the contributions of Jimmy Rollins. He always brought the leather and came up clutch when the Phillies needed him to. What he meant to the Phillies organization will be felt when the Los Angeles Dodgers come to Philadelphia on August 4th, and on the day when he is inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day in 2015 will have a different vibe then it did in years past. Not hearing Phillies’ Public Address announcer Dan Baker boom through the ballpark’s loud speakers: “Leading off, number 11, shortstop, Jimmy Rollins” anymore brings to life just how much Jimmy Rollins meant to the city of Philadelphia. Thank you Jimmy, you will be missed.
Image Source: David Maialetti/Philly.com