Just as they were when he was a bright-eyed Little Leaguer in Texas, Phillip Wellman's two biggest fans were in attendance Thursday to witness him win his 1,000th game as a Minor League manager.
"The people that this means the most to just happened to be in the stands, and that's my parents, James and Janie Wellman," Wellman said. "They're 73 and 76 years old and I'm really grateful that they were in the stands to see it. I'm not trying to downplay it. This is a nice milestone, but it probably means way more to my mom and dad than it does to me."
It was fitting that it was a decision by Wellman that led to the game-winning hit. In the ninth inning, the Missions manager sent in Auston Bousfield as a defensive replacement in center field. Five innings later, Bousfield poked an infield single with the bases loaded to hand Wellman his milestone victory.
"I would never accuse myself of being a genius," Wellman laughed. "It just happened to be the luck of the draw. He had a very good at-bat. I'm just happy that it happened then because we were out of pitchers. It couldn't have happened to a better young man."
Prior to joining San Diego in 2016, Wellman managed in the Orioles, Reds, Braves and Angels organizations. Joining San Antonio was a welcome move for the 55-year-old, who spent the previous year away from baseball.
"It wasn't my choice to be out of the game," said Wellman, who also spent four years as a player in the Minors. "For me, that was an eye-opening experience and changed my life in a lot of ways. It made me that much more grateful for the opportunities I've had. Having 1,000 wins as a manager, the true honor in that is the blessings I've been bestowed and the opportunities I've been granted. For that, I'm grateful."
The skipper is a fan favorite for his unique way of expressing himself when a call doesn't go his way on the field.
Video: Wellman gets ejected
"I'm getting too old for that kind of stuff," Wellman chortled. "I'll be 56 soon and the game has changed over the years. That stuff was a lot more prevalent 10 or 15 years ago and is not looked at the same way as it used to be. Even in the Major Leagues, it's been taken out with the instant replay. We don't have that yet, so every once in a while we need to go argue, but I don't foresee that happening again."
As the feat began to sink in, Wellman thought back to the beginning of his managerial career in 1992, when he was at the helm for the Gulf Coast League Orioles.
"I don't remember much from that game besides our pitching coach, Chris Lein, getting the ball for me," Wellman added.
He also reflected on how much has happened since he first began filling out lineup cards.
"That's what kind of hit me tonight -- when I first began this journey, my daughter [Britnee] was 3 years old, and last night, she called me to tell me that she's six weeks pregnant," Wellman said. "This is a pretty exciting night for me, but nowhere near as exciting as the news I received yesterday that I'll be a grandfather in about seven-and-a-half months. That trumps 1,000 wins any day."
So now what is on Wellman's mind? He's solely focused on win number 1,001.
"Even with the win, I've got a lot of things to talk to these guys about tomorrow. We had a couple things not go the way they were supposed to go if we're going to be a successful ballclub. I'm more concerned with that stuff than celebrating right now."