Ed Phillips’ daughter asks her father if he’ll be nervous, walking across the field at Fenway Park in front of another sold-out crowd. No, he assures her.

“I was nervous when I was the one walking out of the bullpen to the mound,” he said. “It will be a lot easier to go out there with a couple of hundred other players.”

The official celebration of 100 years of Red Sox baseball at Fenway happens before Friday afternoon’s game with the New York Yankees. Any living player or manager or coach who wore a Red Sox uniform was invited to return. Phillips wore the uniform in 18 games to start the 1970 season. He was sent down to the minor leagues and never returned to pitch again.

More than 40 years later, he got the invitation to come back. A letter was mailed to his home in Wells some weeks ago, signed by Red Sox President Larry Lucchino. “This is nice,” Phillips said to himself.

He initially thought he was getting two complimentary tickets to sit in the bleachers. Later he learned the Red Sox wanted his shirt size for the Red Sox top he’ll wear onto the field. He is 67 and his moment in the big leagues was so long ago.

Phillips had arrived, four years after being drafted by the Red Sox out of Colby College. Too quickly, he was gone. His face never even appeared on a baseball card, even though he stood before a photographer. “They took my picture and later said they lost the negatives,” he said.

Topps, which had a virtual monopoly on producing baseball cards then, planned to catch up with Phillips for another photo session. They were too late. He got married, and after six seasons in the minor leagues, believed his window of opportunity had closed.

Brooke, his 35-year-old daughter and only child, lives in Washington, D.C., and will fly to Boston on Friday morning. They’re to meet team personnel in a parking garage to be escorted into Fenway Park. Brooke, says her father, is beside herself with excitement. She wasn’t alive when he pitched.

“She would love me to talk more to her about when I pitched, but I guess I don’t,” he said.

Phillips was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Portland, a star pitcher at every level from Little League to the minor leagues. He pitched four no-hitters and one perfect game. He grew into a rangy, 6-foot-1 body. At Colby he pitched for John Winkin, who would later compare Phillips to Billy Swift, Winkin’s future major leaguer at the University of Maine.

Phillips was drafted in the 16th round. More than 300 players had been picked before him. He signed for $9,000. When he went north from spring training with the Red Sox in 1970, his rookie salary was $12,000.

In the second game of the 1970 season, Phillips relieved Sparky Lyle in the bottom of the 8th inning at Yankee Stadium. He got the final out in a 4-3 loss. He worked 23 innings before getting sent down. Struck out 23, but had a 5.32 earned-run average and an 0-2 record.

Memorable moments? Pitching in the Dominican Republic, while playing winter ball, comes to mind. Some heavy hitters, or ringers as Phillips called them, were on the teams. Phillips faced Tony Oliva of the Minnesota Twins, the American League batting champ, with runners on first and second.

“Oh my God, what am I going to do? I got the first strike, and the next pitch he bunted. It was a good sacrifice. I don’t know what his manager was thinking. (Oliva) could’ve killed me.”

Phillips will go to Fenway on Thursday night for a reception. He is anticipating those hours, seeing the men who were his teammates in 1970. Lyle was a friend. So was Dick Mills, a fellow rookie in the bullpen. Carl Yastrzemski was the star leftfielder, of course. George Scott played first and Rico Petrocelli was the shortstop. Ray Culp and Gary Peters were the top two starting pitchers for manager Eddie Kasko.

“I didn’t want to act like the wide-eyed rookie, so I never got photographed with (his 1970 teammates),” Phillips said. “I got some of them to sign their photos the team took, but somewhere in my moves, I lost them.”

He’ll get more Thursday night. Friday, with his daughter watching, he’ll relax, walk onto the field and soak up the applause meant for all of them. For Phillips, that noise has been a long time coming.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]