The new century began with the dawn of a new era as the Philadelphia Phillies reached an agreement with the city to build a new 43,500-seat ballpark -- opening April, 2004 -- in South Philadelphia, across the street from Veterans Stadium.
The 2000 season began with high expectations after the acquisitions of Andy Ashby and Mike Jackson, but the club fizzled early and finished 65-97 to end Terry Francona's four-year run as manager.
Former Philadelphia Phillie Larry Bowa took over the managerial reigns for 2001 and led the club to a 21-game improvement (86-76) and a second-place finish. The season was also memorable for the week that baseball stadiums fell silent. The Philadelphia Phillies' pennant chase -- and the rest of baseball -- was halted for a week as the nation recovered from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
Rookie shortstop Jimmy Rollins (pictured left) was a perpetual sparkplug for the 2001 club, leading the league in stolen bases with 46, tying him with Colorado's Juan Pierre for the National League lead. Scott Rolen produced his third -- and second straight -- Gold Glove season and Bobby Abreu became the first Philadelphia Phillies player to record a 30 home run, 30 stolen base year.
In his second year as manager, Larry Bowa's Philadelphia Phillies regressed from a season that saw them finish two games behind the Braves in the NL East. The 2002 squad went 80-81 (a rainout was never replayed) and fell to third place, 21 1/2 games behind Atlanta. They were never able to recover from a 9-18 start in the April. Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu continued to lead the team's offense, driving in 201 runs between them, and Mike Lieberthal appeared in 130 games, a welcome achievement considering he was coming back from major knee surgery that cost him all but 34 games of the 2001 season. Jimmy Rollins, who regressed a bit in his second full season, was voted to start in the All-Star game for the first time in his career. Randy Wolf also emerged as the staff ace, winning 11 games and compiling a 3.20 ERA. Especially impressive was August, when Wolf posted a 1.37 ERA and had a 27-inning scoreless streak. Philadelphia also cut the cord with prodigal son Scott Rolen in July, dealing him to St. Louis when it became obvious they couldn't sign him to a long-term contract. They netted Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin.
Slugger Jim Thome wore the red pinstripes in 2003, and led the National League with 47 home runs -- all in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He also knocked in a career-best 131 runs. His clubhouse leadership was even more impressive, as his constant positive outlook was difficult to miss. Kevin Millwood also arrived in a trade from Atlanta and won 14 games, but stumbled in the final month. The Philadelphia Phillies contended all season -- and led the Wild Card race by 1/2 game with eight to play, but a 1-7 stretch ended their postseason dreams. Left fielder Pat Burrell, third baseman David Bell and closer Jose Mesa stumbled mightily, contributing to the near-miss season.
On Sept. 28, 2003, the Philadelphia Phillies played in their final game at Veterans Stadium, and gave the palace an emotional sendoff. Appearances by Paul Owens and Tug McGraw made the afternoon magical, as both would pass away in the coming months.
The Vet -- the site of the Philadelphia Phillies' lone World Series Championship -- was imploded on March 21, 2004, ushering in the Citizens Bank Park era.
A team with high expectations was derailed by injuries and inconsistency in the 2004 season. New closer Billy Wagner was limited to 45 games and had two separate stints on the disabled list, and starters Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood missed large chunks as well.
Still, there were bright spots for a team that won 86 games, and had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1982-83. Right fielder Bobby Abreu renewing his membership in the 30-30 club, rookie Ryan Madson won nine games and had a 2.34 ERA out of the bullpen and Jim Thome had a second fine season with the Philadelphia Phillies, smacking 42 homers and driving in 105 runs.
The positives weren't enough to prevent the dismissal of manager Larry Bowa with two games left in the season.