- Phil was the first player drafted in 1992—ahead of Derek Jeter, Jason Kendall, and Charles Johnson.
In 1989, Nevin was the Dodgers number three pick, out of El Dorado High School in Placentia, California. But he decided on college first and went to Cal State-Fullerton.
PLAYED FOOTBALL IN COLLEGE
- In 1989, he was a field goal kicker for Cal State-Fullerton, the best freshman kicker in the nation, according to The Sporting News.
When Phil first went to Cal State-Fullerton, it was as a combination football-baseball player. But he started focusing more on baseball, in part because of the Titans 2-20 record on the gridiron.
Meanwhile, the baseball team saw the return of coach Augie Garrido after a three-year sojourn to University of Illinois. After Nevin's junior season, he declared eligibility for the NFL draft. Basically, he said, to let the football coaching staff know he wasn't planning on coming back for his senior season. While Phil got some nibbles, he wasn't drafted.
Nevin played with the United States national team that finished seventh in the world championships. He was invited back the following summer for the team that headed to the Pan Am Games in Cuba to qualify the USA for the Olympics. The U.S. coach was Ron Polk. As the summer progressed, so did a personality conflict between the two.
"They said I had a problem with my playing time, but everybody wants to play, especially when they're on the bench," Nevin said. "We didn't leave on the best of terms."
There was speculation the Phil wouldn't be invited to the Olympic tryouts because of his problems with Polk. But by season's end, Nevin had not only earned a spot on the Olympic team, he almost single-handedly brought the College World Series title back to Fullerton.
He hit .402-22-86 in 61 games, then went 10-for-19 with a pair of homers and 11 RBI, leading the Titans to the championship game, where they lost to Pepperdine. Phil was the first player in 19 years to win the CWS MVP award despite coming from the losing team.
Then he hit .347 for the Olympic team, leading the club with nine homers and 31 RBI. Though he slumped in Barcelona, he was one of the leaders on the team.
Phil bought his parents a satellite dish with part of his $700,000 signing bonus.
Before 1995 spring camp, Nevin dropped 15 pounds, to 180 and took the blame for his poor showing in 1994 at Tucson (PCL). "My weight probably kept me from getting to the Majors," Phil said. "I ran out of gas. I had knee surgery because my legs couldn't support my fat body."
Nevin has a temper, and he displayed it a lot earlier in his career. "I'm not saying you need to throw your batting helmet after every strikeout, but once in a while, a guy is going to be pissed off," Phil once said. "I'm aggressive. I get frustrated."
The Astros were unhappy with Nevin's displays of temper (like a time he broke his hand punching a water cooler) and his lapses in concentration. So they dropped him from their 40-man roster and didn't even invite him to Major League spring training for 1995.
Nevin went ballistic when he learned he was being sent back to the minors by the Astros on July 4, 1995, after hitting only .117 in 18 games. He leveled a profanity-filled blast at then-Houston GM Bob Watson and then-manager Terry Collins. According to those in the clubhouse, Nevin interrupted Collins and cursed loudly when the manager told him he was going back to the minors. Nevin then slammed the door to the manager's office and kicked a big trash container in the clubhouse.
Watson said, "My father never talked to me the way he talked to me. A few days later he apologized. "I felt bad because Bob did give me a chance," Nevin says. "My dream all my life was to play in the Major Leagues, and he gave me that chance. And I'm the one who didn't take advantage of it, and I took it out on him when I got sent down . . . and that was completely wrong. That was really the only thing I would apologize for. As far as some of the other people in the organization, no, I would never apologize for some of the things I said to them. That's just how I felt."
- In May 1996, while Nevin was with Jacksonville (SL-Tigers), after being charged with three passed balls and being lifted in the late innings of a game at Carolina, Nevin used a chair to beat a bathroom stall in the visitor's clubhouse into submission. Carolina GM Joe Kremer said the Mudcats would bill Nevin for damages amounting to about $450.
His college coach Augie Garrido, formerly of Cal State-Fullerton says, "His personality is a blessing and a burden. It motivates him to be the best. He sees himself as the dominant person in any environment. 'I'm the best guy. I belong here. Now, how can I help you?' He means well, but sometimes, like when he thinks he's being treated unfairly, he overreacts."
September 12, 2002: Phil made an obscene gesture to a heckler in the stands while leaving the field after making an error in the 9th inning that allowed the Giants to tie the score. "I regret the incident," Nevin said the next day. "I lost it; I feel horrible about it."
- Phil readily admits he's a difficult person to be around when things don't go his way.
"My wife hates me for it when we're in bed playing cribbage," Nevin says. "If I don't win, I'm f ------ ticked. She'll know that I'm going to be ticked if she wins, so she lets me win . . . but then I get even more ticked."
Nevin's tunnel vision always has left him incapable of self-doubt. Asked if he was scared about his career, during 1996 spring training, Phil pondered the thought. "You know," he says slowly, "I've never thought about it that way." He pauses for another five seconds, staring blankly, before widening his eyes in genuine amazement. "Yeah."
After the Tigers were rained out of a game May 29, 1997, Phil flew home to Phoenix to be with his wife at the birth of their son, Tyler. After the birth, Nevin didn't sleep much, and leaving Phoenix wasn't easy but duty called. He caught a flight to Seattle, where the Tigers were playing, sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to the Kingdome, then knocked in two runs with a single and a double May 30 in the Tigers' 5-2 win.
During 1998 Spring Training, Nevin was the most impressive hitter in the Angels' camp. And he played excellent defense behind the plate.
- Nevin says it has taken him a long time to mature, but he has learned. "It's unfortunate, but that's what it has come down to," Phil says.
Early in the 1999 season, Nevin showed off brightly colored toenails. "My daughter started it," Phil said. "The next day I hit a homer, so I kept it up. She says it's for good luck."
Nevin has matured a whole lot. "Complaining about not playing and stuff like that? I've grown up over the last couple years, I guess," Phil said, smiling wryly. "I thought I had it all figured out."
But now, Phil knows he was just young and foolish. He used to leave the ballpark every day thinking less about pitcher selection and more about bar selection. Now, he picks the brain of guys like Tony Gwynn. "In Houston, I was surrounded by Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. In Detroit, there was Trammell and Whitaker and Gibson. I never talked baseball with them. I was the first guy out of there after a game," Phil says, with regret. Now, he immerses himself in the game.
During 2002 Spring Training, Phil was very hurt by the death of teammate Mike Darr. Now, tattooed on Nevin's back are Darr's initials, the outfielder's jersey number 26, Darr's date of death – February 15, 2002 – and a leering clown face in red trim. One of Darr's tattoo artists did the job.
"Mike was big on clowns," Nevin said. "I was always ragging him that he looked like a clown. We used to laugh about it."
- During the 2002 season, Nevin touched the Mike Darr memorial #26 patch on his right sleeve every time he crossed home plate.
"It started with my son Tyler, who said Mike was always there to greet me when I scored," said Nevin. "I guess he remembers that Mike hit behind me a lot last year. So, I started touching Mike's patch when I scored, out of tribute. I don't want to have anyone thinking I'm showing them up."
- During the 2002 season, Braves broadcaster Don Sutton said Nevin is so intense that "He makes Larry Bowa look like Mr. Rogers."
Nevin spent a year and a half separated from his wife, Kristin. Maybe it was coincidence, but his career started taking off after they were reconciled. Phil and Kristin have two sons, Tyler and Kyle. His daughter, Koral, is from a previous college relationship. Koral lives nearby, but Phil and Kristin have joint custody.
"I did the part-time Dad thing when she was young," Nevin said. "When I was in the minor leagues and with Houston and Detroit, I didn't spend much time with her. She was close to the whole reason why I signed when the Padres offered me the multiyear deal with the no-trade clause. Kristin and the boys, we can move. But if we move, I can't move Koral. She's got school and softball. Her life is here. I like meeting her after school."
"He loves being a father," Kristin said early in 2003. "He's a really good father."
"I'm a hard guy to read," he admits. "I've said things at times. When I see or hear them the next day, I've thought: 'Did I say that?' And the answer is yes. Which raises the question why. I answer questions honestly. But maybe I don't share all the necessary details."
- Nevin's teammates call him "Sunshine," and not for his pleasant demeanor. It is with more than a touch of irony. He is known more for his dark clouds than his sunny afternoons.
"We nicknamed him 'Sunshine' because he could always find something wrong," says Padres manager Bruce Bochy.
But Phil is trying to adjust. In 2005, he was really trying to be a much more approachable teammate and more of a team leader.
"People who get close to me know who I am. I have the personality that I like to kid around in certain ways. But for somebody new coming into this clubhouse, I want everybody in here to come up to me and ask me about anything," Nevin said. "I want to be friends with everybody in here, and I think that's important for a team, especially for somebody who's supposed to be a leader."
Teammates have always respected Nevin for his willingness to play hurt and play hard. Nobody has ever questioned his desire to win. It's unlikely he'll suddenly become a candidate for Mr. Congeniality. But he's trying to be a better Phil Nevin.
"Several guys have told me my personality sets the tone for this clubhouse," Nevin said. "I need to come in here and be upbeat and not show when I'm down. It's going to be tough. It's going to be an adjustment. There are going to be times when I still show my emotions on my sleeve, after an at-bat or a situation on the field." (John Schlegel-MLB.com-3/11/05)
June 18, 2022: The odds of having a son in the Major Leagues is incredibly rare, and it’s even more rare for an active MLB manager to have a son playing in the Majors.
But it’s the case for Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, whose son, Tyler, made his debut with the Orioles last year and is currently serving as Baltimore’s everyday third baseman, the same position his dad played in the Majors from 1995-96. So that’s why this year’s Father’s Day is so special for the elder Nevin, who nearly got choked up when asked what Father’s Day means to him.
Nevin, 51, hasn’t had a chance to see his son play in person in the Major Leagues, as Tyler didn’t play in any games against the Yankees last season when Nevin was serving as New York’s third-base coach. But he’s slated to get that chance soon, with the Angels heading to Baltimore for a four-game series from July 7-10.
“If we were playing Baltimore on Father’s Day, it would’ve been a difficult one for me, but it’ll be difficult in a few weeks when we see him,” Nevin said. “My dad [Norm] is more proud of this than anything when I was playing. This is something he’s always wanted to see. It’ll be a special day for him and for me, too. And then I get to see Tyler a few weeks later.”
The last time an active manager had a son in the Major Leagues was in 2017, when John Farrell was managing the Red Sox and his son, Luke, pitched for the Royals and Reds. They even made history with Luke pitching against the Red Sox to mark the first time a player pitched against a team managed by his father. Buddy Bell also incredibly had two sons in the Majors at different points of his managerial career. When Bell managed the Rockies in 2000, his late son, Mike, played with the Reds and then his other son, David, played from 1995-2006, while Bell managed the Royals from 2005-07. Other recent examples include Hal and Brian McRae in the early 1990s, Felipe and Moises Alou in the 90s and Chuck and Bruce Tanner in the mid-80s. The last time a position player played against a team managed by his father was when Moises Alou's Cubs played Felipe Alou's Giants in 2004 but that should change in a few weeks when the Angels head to Baltimore.
Nevin said he tries to watch his son play on television as much as possible and said day games work the best because he can watch them early on the West Coast before heading to the ballpark. He said it’s more difficult when the Angels and Orioles are playing at the same time. His other son, Kyle, was a standout first baseman at Baylor University but announced last week he’s transferring to the University of Oklahoma.
“My dad watches our games, but he’d rather go see his grandkids play, whether it’s Kyle in college or Ty in the Major Leagues right now,” Nevin said. “But my dad manages the game along with me. I get texts after the game, so I know I have to deal with him.”
Tyler spoke to MLB.com’s Zachary Silver, who wrote a great article about how much it meant to Tyler to see his dad hired as the interim manager to replace Joe Maddon. It’s worth a read, in full, but Tyler joked about what it’ll be like to play in a game against his dad as manager.
“I talk to him about my at-bats a lot and tell him what I feel like is giving me fits. And now it's like, 'Well, guess he's gonna use that against me,’” Tyler said. “It's part of it. … But it's just funny, having those conversations, and then now he's going to pick the pitchers that face me.” (R Bollinger - MLB.com - June 18, 2022)
June 1992: Nevin was the Astros first round pick (#1 overall), out of Cal State-Fullerton.
August 1995: The Tigers acquired Nevin from the Astros as payment for P Mike Henneman.
November 1997: The Angels sent P Nick Skuse to the Tigers to acquire Phil and C Matt Walbeck.
March 1999: The Padres sent INF Andy Sheets and OF Gus Kennedy to the Angels to acquire Phil and P Keith Volkman. This was Nevin's wake-up call.
"Anaheim told me if I hadn't been traded, I would've gone back to the minors," Phil related. "I was afraid of being a career Triple-A guy. It frightened me." So with visions of being a real-life Crash Davis dancing in his head, Nevin shifted his sights. Rather than try to attain the star status that always seemed his destiny when the Astros made him the first pick of the 1992 draft, he resigned himself to the role of rank-and-file Major Leaguer. "So what if I'm a utility player, I'm in the Big Leagues, I thought. If I was going to be a bench layer, I was going to accept it."
November 2001: Nevin signed a four-year contract worth about $34 million.
November 27, 2002: Nevin refused to waive the no-trade clause in his contract, which killed a possible trade to the Reds for OF Ken Griffey Jr. Phil wouldn't comment directly on his role in the trade talks between the Padres and Reds, but he said he "let the Padres know how I felt. I signed a contract to stay in San Diego," Nevin said of the deal he signed before the 2002 season. "That was the reason for the no-trade clause. I have too many things involved here with my children and my family. It was far more than a baseball decision."
July 29, 2005: The Rangers sent P Chan Ho Park to the Padres, acquiring Nevin. Phil was not happy about getting traded, and he regretted his having a poor attitude later.
"I almost acted like I was the first guy to ever get traded," Nevin said at the start of 2006 spring training. "I took it a little personally. As much as I wanted to say it didn't affect me, it did, and I was completely wrong. I've still got a heck of an opportunity here, and I want to put myself in position to take advantage of it."
May 31, 2006: The Cubs sent Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Rangers, along with about $7.5 million, acquiring 1B Phil Nevin.
August 31, 2006: The Twins sent P Adam Harben to the Cubs, acquiring Nevin and cash.
|Birth City:||Fullerton, CA|
|Draft:||Astros #1 - 1992 - Out of Cal State-Fullerton|
|1992||-||DID NOT PLAY|
Phil can really hit the ball. His bat is strong. He has power to the gaps and is an RBI guy. Nevin turns on the ball, but he's also capable of going to the opposite field.
- Above all else, Nevin is a run producer. His at-bats with men on base are different than those with nobody on. He reads pitchers well and gives a runner on first base time to steal in the appropriate situation. He works a pitcher deep into counts. Get a man on third, and he gets him in. Nevin needs to cut down his strikeouts and put the ball in play a little more.
- "Phil is not the kind of hitter who will hit for a high batting average or hit a lot of home runs, but he is an RBI guy," Former Astros G.M Bob Watson said in 1995. "I don't know how he does it, but he drives in runs."
The righthanded-hitting Nevin has always hit lefthanded pitchers much better than righthanders.
In 2000, he hit .288 off righties and .342 against lefthanders. In 2001, he hit .297 against righties and .329 off southpaws. In 2002, he hit .268 off righties and mashed lefthanded pitchers for a .337 mark. In 2003, it was .252 against righties and .349 against lefties.
- Nevin got called up to Houston and made his first Big League at-bat on June 11, 1995. He lined a run-scoring single on the first pitch from C.J. Nitkowski of the Reds.
Nevin has to keep the ball out of the air.
- He is very good at hitting with two strikes on him.
- Phil is gritty and very confident. His voice low and gravelly, cool and confident, he says, "There ain't no pitcher in the world that can beat me. I always feel like I'm beating myself."
In 2000, Nevin said he was the most comfortable he'd ever been at the plate. He thinks it was because he never had to check the lineup card to see if he was in there. But it was also because of his improved knowledge of the strike zone, somewhat of a natural process of maturing as a hitter.
And he had an even better season in 2001. He still strikes out a lot, but that is a by-product of increased production.
Phil now hits the inside fastball real well, too. And he allows pitches to get by him, hitting the ball close to the catcher's mitt. He really nails balls low in the strike zone.
Nevin drives almost as many balls to right-center field as to left when he is on top of his game.
In 2004, Nevin hit .324 with 10 home runs in 170 at-bats vs. lefthanded pitchers, and a .273 mark with 16 home runs in 377 at-bats against righthanders.
In 2005, Phil only hit .205 with 4 home runs in 127 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers, and .253 with 8 homers in 253 at-bats vs. righthanded pitching.
- Nevin can't really run at all. He is average, at best, speed-wise. But he breaks up the double play and runs hard.
- Nevin's career stats: batting average of .270 with 208 home runs and 743 RBI in 4,188 at-bats.
Nevin has been moved around on defense his whole career.
NOT A GOOD THIRD BASEMAN
- Nevin has an above average arm, but barely adequate range at third base.
- His lack of quickness is even more magnified when playing on artificial turf. His play at third base didn't make anyone forget Ken Caminiti, but he has quick hands a quick release and a strong arm. But his arm is not very accurate. He makes a lot of bad throws. In 2001, he had the highest error total and for the second year in a row had the worst fielding percent among NL third basemen.
- Nevin was barely adequate at the hot corner. He does play with a lot of intensity and is confident in the ability he has, however. But he can also be a bit too critical of himself.
- In 2000, Nevin had the lowest fielding percent among NL third basemen (.929) and the most errors (26).
- In 2001, he still led the NL in errors at third base, most of which were on throws. And he had the lowest fielding percent (.930). Most of his fielding problems were in the first half of the 2001 season. After the All Star break, he did a very good job with the glove.
Phil is erratic in the field because he has slow feet.
NOT A GOOD CATCHER
- Before 1996, Nevin told the Tigers that he was interested in changing positions and moving back behind the plate. Then-Tigers bullpen coach Fred Kendall, a former Big League catcher with the Padres, worked with Phil during spring camp. But he is just not very good as a catcher. For one thing, he struggled a lot with the throw to second base.
- In 1998, Nevin threw out just 28 percent of opposing base-stealers, 15th (out of 20 rated catchers) in the American League.
- He hardly ever wears the shin-guards, playing mostly at first base. But he is real thankful for having the education of learning to be a catcher. "I learned so much about the game having to play a new position," he said several years ago.
- In 2002, Phil was moved to first base, and by 2004 first base became his permanent home. Friend and former teammate Wally Joyner taught him the nuances of the position, which is tougher than most people think, if it is played correctly.
In 2003, the Padres moved him to the outfield. And Phil embraced the idea. He even determined that he was better suited for left field than right.
But that year, Phil suffered a dislocated shoulder early in spring training and spent over half the season on the D.L. When Nevin returned to action in July he volunteered to fill a utility-style role. "As long as I get my at-bats, I'll be happy . . . I'll play wherever they want me to play," admitting he looked forward to the challenge.
As a first baseman in 2004, Phil showed a reluctance to dive, as well he should, with his history of shoulder problems. He needs to improve his footwork around the bag but shows awareness, especially on double plays when he needs to throw to second.
Nevin needs to work on pop flies in foul territory and down the first base line. (Mike Scarr-The Sporting News-5/10/04)
- Phil has one of the best arms in the game as a first baseman. Padres Manager Bruce Bochy believes Nevin's background as a catcher and third baseman allows him to excel on throwing plays as a first baseman.
- Nevin has made strides at first base, but a pair of shoulder injuries has reduced his range by eliminating his ability to dive. While he struggled with his footwork at times and continued to work on picking the ball, Nevin showed his defensive strengths when he had to throw the ball. He is particularly adept at fielding the ball and coming home.
- 2007: Phil worked for ESPN in June as an analyst on regional college baseball games and the College World Series
2009: Nevin was Manager for the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.
2010: Phil went back to the Tigers organization as Manager for the Erie SeaWolves (EL).
2011 through 2013: Nevin was Manager for the Toledo Mud Hens (IL-Tigers). The Tigers let Phil go after the 2013 season. He had a 193-239 record in the three seasons he was skipper.
2014: Nevin was Manager for the Reno Aces (PCL-Diamondbacks).
November 7, 2016: Nevin was named the Giants third-base coach.
2018: Nevin was the Yankees third-base coach.
Oct. 14, 2021: The Yankees informed third-base coach Phil Nevin that his contract would not be renewed for 2022.
- June 1993: Nevin had a tender right shoulder.
- April 1994: Phil cut his finger while trying to beat up a water cooler and was sidelined for two weeks.
- November 1994: Nevin sustained a third-degree ankle sprain during a rundown play during Arizona Fall League play.
- June 1995: When Nevin finally got called up for his Major League debut with the Astros, he suffered a mild concussion June 17 during a freak accident in the first inning of a game at New York. Phil was hit by a foul ball that went off the end of his bat, rolled backwards and struck him in the right temple. He was wobbly as he walked off the field to the Astros' clubhouse, but he was coherent within a few moments and missed just one game. "I wasn't really sure what happened for a few minutes," Nevin said.
- July 1995: Phil went on the D.L. with a pulled ribcage muscle.
- March 1997: Nevin started the season on the D.L. after tests revealed torn ligaments in his left wrist. He hurt the wrist taking batting practice late in February. He returned to action April 16.
- April 1999: Phil went on the D.L. with a strained left hamstring.
- March 2000: He sprained his right ankle, missing a couple of weeks of spring training.
- September 2000: Phil suffered a sprained abdominal muscle. It would've put him on the D.L. if it weren't September.
April-May 27, 2002: Nevin sprained his left elbow, causing numbness in his left hand on certain swings of the bat. Phil probably first damaged the ligament while making a diving attempt for a grounder. He didn't report the problem for a week and kept playing after that. He didn't want to go on the D.L.
"I'm not in a whole lot of pain," Nevin said. "I just figured it was a little ache that would go away. It hurts, but it only hurts for a bit. It's just a little deal in my elbow. I don't think it really hurts, other than my fingers and hand going numb." He went on the D.L. that day.
- May 29-July 12, 2002: He went back on the D.L. after he broke his left arm diving for a grounder. He only got in three games between trips on the shelf.
March 7-July 23, 2003: Nevin separated his left shoulder while diving to make a catch in left field during an exhibition game. An MRI showed surgery to tighten the capsule was required.
On March 11, Padres team doctors Dan Fronek and Heinz Hoenecke performed the 1½-hour procedure at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. They tightened the shoulder capsule and repaired tearing of the labrum, the cartilage that provides stability to the joint.
March 7, 2004: Nevin strained his left shoulder during a spring exhibition game against the Angels, a year to the day he dislocated the same shoulder. An MRI revealed this strain, but thankfully, the area that was surgically repaired in March 2003 was still intact.
Nevin was hurt diving for a liner at first base. He immediately left the game and covered his face with his hands as he walked back to the dugout. He left the ballpark with trainer Todd Hutcheson.
"Actually, it came out as well as it could have with what happened," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He'll be back about Opening Day. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks. Of the two options, we got the best one. He might have reinjured the surgery."
Phil had his arm in a sling for a little over a week.
July 5-21, 2004: Nevin was on the D.L. following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to remove a loose flap off the articular cartilage and smooth fraying of his meniscus.
His knee locked up when he took off out of the batter's box after hitting a single. But he felt soreness in the knee while taking throws at first base and the joint cramped on him while sitting on the bench, a few games before it locked up on him during a game on the Fourth of July.
June 21-July 18, 2005: Nevin was on the D.L. with a strained left oblique.