Game 7 decision haunts Little in interview

Updated: October 14, 2004, 6:17 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Grady Little wanted to talk about the Philadelphia Phillies' vacant managerial position. Instead, he spent lots of time reliving the move that cost him his job with the Boston Red Sox.

Little stuck too long with a tiring Pedro Martinez in the seventh game of last year's AL championship series. The Red Sox lost the game and series to the archrival New York Yankees, and Little was gone soon after.

"It's a shame, but that's life," Little said Thursday. "That comes with the territory when you're on center stage like that. It's one of the many decisions that I had to make throughout my tenure as manager for the Boston Red Sox. One of those decisions got bad results in the seventh game and it's a shame people tend to judge me on that."

Little went 188-136 in two years with Boston, but that move dwarfed all others. Martinez gave up a tying, eighth-inning double, and the Yankees won on Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer.

"I have people ask me all the time would I have done anything differently and the truth is, if I knew what the result was going to be I probably would," Little said.

Little spent this season as an adviser with the Chicago Cubs. He tried to change the subject in Philadelphia after repeated questions about the Red Sox.

"I came here not to talk about the 2003 Boston Red Sox or the 2004 Philadelphia Phillies, I came here to talk about what I might be able to do to make a difference in the 2005 Philadelphia Phillies," Little said.

Little was the third candidate in three days to interview for the job, less than two weeks after Larry Bowa was fired. Philadelphia general manager Ed Wade said the Martinez move came up in "general terms," and that "people in baseball recognize what he's really about."

Both Boston and Philadelphia are championship-starved cities with tough fans and media, and expectations are always high. The Red Sox are familiar with being in the playoffs but the Phillies haven't been in the postseason since winning the 1993 NL pennant.

They went 86-76 this year under Bowa and finished 10 games out of first place.

"I think next year at this time you'll be watching them on television in the playoffs no matter who is the manager," Little said. "They're right on the verge."

Little managed 16 seasons in the minors from 1980-95 and was San Diego's bullpen coach in 1996. He spent the next three seasons as Jimy Williams' bench coach in Boston then had the same job the next two seasons with Charlie Manuel in Cleveland.

He became the Red Sox manager in spring training of 2002 after former Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan was fired.

"I know what I did there, I know what the players did while I was there," Little said. "I know the way it was when I went to Boston and the way it was when I left Boston and it was a better situation when I left."

The Phillies interviewed former Cubs manager Don Baylor on Tuesday, and Manuel on Wednesday. They'll interview former Rockies and Tigers manager Buddy Bell, the father of Philadelphia third baseman David Bell, on Oct. 25th and former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi on Oct. 26th.

Wade also plans to talk to Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton on Oct. 28th.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press