PHILADELPHIA -- Former Phillies manager Danny Ozark, who led Philadelphia to three consecutive National League East titles but fell short of the World Series each time, died Thursday. He was 85.
Ozark, whose streak of three consecutive NL East titles in the late 1970s is unmatched in team history, died at his home in Vero Beach, Fla, team officials said.
Ozark twice led the Phillies to more than 100 wins, tallying back-to-back 101-61 records in 1976 and 1977. The Phillies went 90-72 under him in 1978 for their third straight NL East title, but lost in the National League Championship series each time.
"Danny was a great human being," said Phillies chairman Bill Giles. "He was first class and a fine gentleman who really cared deeply about his players and his friends."
Ozark was fired late in the 1979 season as the Phillies stood at 65-67. They went on to finish 84-78 and rebounded under Dallas Green in 1980 to win the World Series.
"His patience with some of the Phillies' young players in 1973-75, particularly with Mike Schmidt, really paid off as the Phillies got to the postseason in 1976, 1977, and 1978 and eventually won the World Series in 1980 after he left," Giles said.
Schmidt, the Hall of Fame third baseman who reached the majors under Ozark's watch, said he was saddened by the death of the manager and friend who fostered his development early in his career.
"[He] was instrumental in building us into prominence in the mid-1970s," Schmidt said. "We were fortunate to have him as our leader throughout that time."
Catcher Bob Boone said Ozark was partly responsible for the Phillies' eventual World Series win, even if he wasn't in the dugout when they won it.
"He was the perfect manager for the Phillies in the 70s," Boone said. "He had the patience of Job and helped all of us grow up as men and players."
Ozark was named Associated Press Manager of the Year in 1976 and finished with a 594-510 record in seven seasons with the Phillies. His 594 wins are third-most in team history.
Ozark is survived by his wife, Ginny, two children and three grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are pending.