Atlantic City Press - April 11, 1980

Phillies Return to Vet for Tonight’s Opener Against Expos


By Pete Wickham, Press Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA — Used to be that opening day of the baseball season was the ultimate spring tonic, This year. however, it might be nothing more than a salve. 


The Philadelphia Phillies came home to Veterans Stadium Thursday night, and finished up preparations for tonight’s 8:05 p.m. opener (Steve Carlton vs. Steve Rogers) against the Montreal Expos at a public workout. It drew about 5,000 people, but ended on a sour note when many of the fans stormed the field at the end of the workout, forcing players to practice their Series escape plan. 


For tonight, at least, there is renewal. A third Kite Man will try and fly from center field heaven to the pitcher’s mound, and the Phils, a disappointing fourth in the National League East last year, will get a chance to redeem themselves. 


But everyone in that park last night knew good and well that this could be borrowed time. The players closed down the exhibition season's last 10 days after failing to work out a new basic agreement with the owners. 


And while they will play up to Memorial Day, they say as a sign of good faith, the game could easily hit the pavement just in time for summer. 


Concern showed on Phils’ vice president Bill Giles, who walked around with a ‘playful’ sandwich board around his neck saying “Plenty of Good Tickets Available.” 


“We’re only expecting a crowd of about 35,000-40,000 for tonight's game to be honest,” Giles said. “We had to take out ads saying that the season would start. 


“Group sales have been hurt because people aren’t going to put down their money if they're not sure about whether a game will be played. And we've lost about 800 season tickets since December. Let's just say it will be a tough April, but a glorious October. We hope.” 


There was no hiding behind the bunting on the grandstands, and Phils’ player rep Larry Bowa knew it. 


“If we can't get this thing solved before Memorial Day, and if games are missed because of this, then they have every right to be on us,” said Bowa. “But right now I think what they are doing is anticipating trouble that is not there right now. The mail I’ve gotten about this thing has been incredible. There may not be much movement now; there usually isn’t until you get close to a deadline. But I’m sure that both sides will come up with some type of compromise. Just be patient until then, that’s all we ask.” 


Bowa insists the 10 day blackout didn’t hurt that much. 


“We didn’t play the last 10 days, but five of those games would’ve been rained out. And everyone stayed and worked. The pitchers may not be as far as the hitters usually are at this time of the season, that’s all. 


“Sure that had me worried. A lot of things could’ve unraveled. You never know how individuals are going to react. But we hung together and that's a good sign. We have things to prove this year. We think about May 22 right now and we could be 3-22 before it comes around.” 


First-year manager Dallas Green has said he plans to use the same prod from time to time in the early season. 


“We’ve lost time, sure. The type of things we were trying to teach in spring training take constant effort, and before the strike vote nobody’s mind was on baseball. I can only try to be understanding about that,” Green said. 


“We went down there aiming to mold ourselves into a good ball team. I think we had a good spring training under the circumstances. But now we have to prove ourselves. We won’t know a lot until we go through some adversity. But the only way we do that is to keep working.” 


Over in another corner, center fielder Garry Maddox had double troubles on his mind. Forget the basic agreement. He and the Phils are still apart on a new contract, and the club has said they would rather trade him than wind up losers in the free agent pool. 


“I didn’t want to go into a season this way. It's not something that will paralyze me, but I know it’s something that will be on my mind,” Maddox said. 


“There won’t be any problems tomorrow, because the excitement of starting a new season usually takes care of everything else. But after that, I don’t know.”

Maddox, Phils Move Closer


SAN DIEGO Calif (AP) — Garry Maddox and the Philadelphia Phillies are close to agreement on a new contract, Jerry Kapstein, the outfielder’s agent, said Thursday, and Kapstein lifted the deadline he had imposed on a contract signing. 


Kapstein, who has been negotiating the contract since January 1979, had said that if Maddox were not signed by the Phillies’ opening game Friday, there would be no further talks until after the free agent draft in October. 


Maddox, whose five-year contract expires in September, would become a free agent at season's end if he does not sign by then. The Phillies then would have to contend in negotiations with other teams that might select him in the re-entry draft. 


‘‘We are so close, and enough momentum has been achieved that I am optimistic we can work out something in the next couple of days,” Kapstein said. "So I called Ruly Carpenter (the Phillies’ owner) at his home and told him the deadline is off.” 


Kapstein declined to discuss areas of agreement, but said both sides had made “significant modifications.” They are “headed in the right direction” and added that final agreement could be only four or five days away. 


“Some areas of disagreement remain but I am hopeful they can be settled,” he said.


Speculation has been that Maddox, who is 30, was seeking another long-term contract that would keep him in Philadelphia for the rest of his playing career. 


Kapstein said the length of the contract was a part of the negotiations, but would not discuss specifics. 


Maddox, a golden glove outfielder, is in his fourth season with the Phillies, and after eight years in the majors has a lifetime .293 batting average.