Vukovich broke into the majors with the Phillies in 1970 and never enjoyed the greatest of careers as a player, but was always one of the hardest workers on the team. He went into coaching and just like his days as a player, never truly reached the top, getting just a temporary managerial job with the Cubs when his friend Dallas Green took over as GM. Before Vukovich could make a move as manager, Green resigned and Vuk followed. From there, Vukovich returned to the Phillies. A year later, he managed the final nine games of the season, replacing Lee Elia on the Phillies bench.
Vukovich hid the fact that he was in failing health. He missed the Winter Meetings last December and there were growing rumors about his health. Only this week, news of just how gravely ill he was began to trickle out around the baseball community. Vukovich missed just two months after undergoing brain surgery in 2001. He had been in relatively good health since then, but had experienced headaches and blurry vision lately.
There are a ton of stories about Vukovich and he, in turn, had a ton of stories to tell. His favorite may have been about how Reds manager Sparky Anderson pinch-hit for him in the first inning of a game in 1975. Now, only the stories about Vukovich will be told. The ones from him have been silenced.