His old sport is a memory now, one that he watched flash before his eyes on the video board at Citizens Bank Park prior to Friday night's game against the Cardinals. From a pint-sized kid who barely outsized his catcher's mitt to the day in 1990 when the Phillies selected him with the third overall pick in the amateur draft, two spots behind an infielder named Chipper Jones, the highlight film rolled as Lieberthal looked on from a stage that included legends like Mike Schmidt, Dick Allen and Steve Carlton.
He finished his career as the Phillies' all-time leader in nearly every category as a catcher, from home runs (150), to RBI (609), to runs (528) and games (1,174).
Consider the 5-year stretch he put together from 1999 through 2003. He hit .290 with a .357 on-base percentage, .473 slugging percentage while averaging 15 home runs, 62 RBI and 55 runs per season.
Of course, he never had a chance to go to the postseason.
"The expectation was to win, but it wasn't the same, I think, as it is now," Lieberthal said. "It was just a different time. I felt like we should have one once we got into the new stadium. In '03, I felt like we had a good team, a good enough team to get in; in '03 and in '04. It just didn't happen."
He sounds too busy for regrets. He lives with his wife and two young sons and a third child on the way near in his native Southern California. He golfs, he plays fantasy baseball and he plays dad. Lieberthal's best memory from his playing days was his first hit, which came in front of a slew of family and friends at Dodger Stadium.
"Because I was never in the playoffs, the big hits were here and there, but they weren't as meaningful as if you were in the playoffs or the World Series," he said. "It's more personal. It was personal getting my first hit at Dodger Stadium because it was my first game."
Now, he is consumed by the most personal of sports.
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