"He just called me and said, 'I really was leaning your way,' " Phillies president Bill Giles said late yesterday afternoon. "He said, 'I liked everything about it, but I was afraid of changing leagues.' He said, 'I almost came, and I thank you for all you did.' "
Although the Phillies never did make Puckett, an outfielder, a contract offer, they apparently made it clear to him, in a variety of ways, that they were more interested than they had indicated publicly after word of Puckett's visit leaked out.
Several Phillies players reportedly phoned Puckett this week to do some lobbying. And a number of baseball people who talked to Puckett after his trip were surprised by his sudden enthusiasm for Philadelphia. He also seemed to have the distinct impression that the Phillies were prepared to match the Twins' offer.
"I really like the city," Puckett said yesterday when asked about Philadelphia. "They showed me things I'd never seen before and it was great."
But in the end, he found it impossible to leave the only city he has ever played in.