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City Honors Longtime Phillies Personnel Man

Paul "Pope" Owens worked for the Phillies for nearly a half-century, mostly as a scout and minor league personnel man. The fields at the Carpenter Complex will now be known as the Paul Owens Training Facility at the Carpenter Complex.

Stroll by the Carpenter Complex some day, the Phillies training facility just north of along Old Coachman Road, and you notice the Phillies training or playing on four adjacent fields named after some of the greatest Phillies in team history.

There's Richie Ashburn Field, Steve Carlton Field, Robin Roberts Field and Mike Schmidt Field.

Now those ballfields will be part of the Paul Owens Training Facility.

The city decided to erect a bust and name the training fields for Owens, who may have been just as important to the franchise as Ashburn, Carlton, Roberts and Schmidt were, but of course Owens is far less known.

For decades, Owens was a fixture with the Phillies in Clearwater. It was grunt work. Only those who truly love the game will stick with it that long. It doesn't pay all that well and there's little to no notoriety involved but it's critical for successful organizations.

Owens was nicknamed "The Pope" because of his uncanny likeness to Pope Paul VI. He wore many hats -- or caps -- in the Phillies player development circles including scout, minor league manager, minor league general manager as well as the parent club's general manager and later, team manager.

Owens, after 1984, became a special scout to the organization and was able to get rid of his suit. Instead, he got to work on the fields of the Carpenter Complex and tour minor league stadiums helping out future Phillies.

So revered is "The Pope" within Phillies circles, that the Phillies minor league player and pitcher of the year wins the Paul Owens Award bestowed annually since 1986.

In 1980, Owens was the Phillies general manager when the Phillies won their first World Series. In 1983, he was the team manager in the dugout when the Phillies won the National League pennant.

Owens never reached the big leagues. He flamed out as a minor leaguer with the Cardinals and later played in the Phillies organization where he was hired as a scout in 1960. Owens spent 48 years with the Phillies. He died Dec. 26, 2003 at the age of 79.

Former Phillies manager Dallas Green, who guided the Phillies to the World Series title in 1980, lauded Owens in a 2003 USA Today article about Owens.

"Pope was one of my dearest friends and my mentor," said Green. "He was one of the best baseball men I've been around. He taught me so much about baseball and life. He had great judgment, tremendous patience, and love and feel for this game."

Ground balls: The 2011 season still has a few weeks left and the Threshers are in third place, a game and a half behind Tampa for first in the Florida State League's North Division for the second half season race, but already fans can make plans for 2012.

The FSL released the 2012 schedule and the Threshers open the season on the road April 5 at Dunedin with the first home game the next night against the Blue Jays.

The longest homestand will be five straight home games beginning June 18 against Dunedin. In a potential quirk in the schedule, Clearwater has only eight home games in the month of May.

Also highlighting next season's baseball is the return of the which begins May 23.

Top players: The Threshers have been pitching rich this year and RHP Julio Rodriguez has 15 wins. RHP Trevor May has 178 strikeouts. As for hitters, 1B Dean Ruf has 72 RBIs.

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