Montreal Gazette - April 11, 1980

Expos united for first game against Phils


By Ian MacDonald of the Gazette


PHILADELPHIA – With all but one of their prodigal children on hand, the Expos have taken the first step in trying to unite their "family" for the championship baseball wars ahead.


Everyone accept left fielder Ron LeFlore was on hand for a brief players' meeting and a good workout at Veterans Stadium here where the Expos and the Phillies open their season tonight.


"LeFlore called from Detroit and said he was delayed with personal problems," Manager Dick Williams said. "He called at 6:30 this morning (yesterday). Thank God he didn't call me at that time. He called Peter (travelling secretary Durso).


"He said that he will be here in the morning. That's fine with me as long as he is here in time for the game."


In the confusion that has surrounded the Expos' camp in particular since the players called a strike for the remainder of the exhibition schedule early last week, the teams have no authority over the players until the opening game.


"We have no control over them until tomorrow (today)," Williams explained. "I'm very happy that so many showed up for the workout. We had a good workout."


Rogers runs meeting


Player rep Steve Rogers, who has drawn a fifth straight opening game assignment for the Expos and is scheduled to go against the lefthanded superstar Steve Carlton who killed the Expos' impossible dream on the final day of the 79 season, conducted the brief meeting.


"We tried to separate players association business from the season," Rogers explained. "We can't lose sight of the fact that there are important games to play by constantly thinking strikewise."


Rogers isn't certain that he has completely cleared the air and is looking forward to Monday afternoon when players' association director Marvin Miller will meet with the players at a meeting prior to the off-day workout at Shea Stadium.


"I want Miller to answer any and all 3uestions for the players. Maybe he can do a better job than I have.


"I want him to take over because I want the fellows to start thinking of me again as a player. It seems with all that's been going on, particularly over the last 10 days, that I've become a player rep first, who incidentally will be pitching the opening game."


Need explanation


Rogers explained that he asked Miller to speak to the players.


"It was suggested to all of the reps that if they felt their players could use further explanation they should contact Miller. I called him because I KNOW our players need explanation."


Hopefully, everyone will be thinking of Rogers as a player again later tonight. The righthander has come up with some of his best efforts against the Phillies.


Two of Rogers' four one-hitters were against the Phillies, one on July 26, 1973 and the other last year.


Catching Rogers, of course, is Gary Carter, who has had some good times here and in opening games as well. In 1978, Carter hit seven home runs at the Vet, which is a record for visiting players.


Carter has homered in the last three Expos' openers and in four of the last five.


Eyes all-time high


Carlton will be seeking to become the ail time high winner against the Expos. The tall lefthander is 18-5 against the Expos and is 4-3 in head-to-head competition with Rogers. Tom Seaver is the only other pitcher to beat the Expos 18 times.


Four of those players who did leave the training camp the day after the strike was called feel they did all the work they needed while on their own.


For Andre Dawson that meant resting his bothersome knee and doing very little while for Rodney Scott it meant doing absolutely nothing. Whatever, they both seemed happy.


"My knee has been bothering me," Dawson explained. "There has been a lot of fluid and it was swelling.


"Had I stayed and continued on the program with the team it would be swollen now. And playing on this hard surface here. I probably would have had to have it drained next week.


"This way I rested the knee. I got some work done but I took it easy. There is no swelling in the knee now so I'm better off for the start of the season."

Williams puts damper on Phils fireworks


PHILADELPHIA – (Gazette) – The Phillies latest promotional gimmick has gone down the drain, thanks to Expos' Manager Dick Williams.


Elaborately painted screens picturing landmark scenes of the area were to be draped over the entire left, right and centre field fences.


After every Phillie home run everything would light up with firecrackers popping off and showers spraying.


Concerned that the $30,000 brainchild of executive vice-president Bill Giles wouldn't be ready for tonight's opening game, workmen quickly put the screens in place while the Expos took batting practice yesterday.


That's when Williams balked, claiming the colorful display took away the customary centre-field backdrop which the hitters enjoy.


"It's tough enough hitting against Steve Carlton as it is," Williams explained. "They better get those things to hell out of there. And if they don't we'll protest every game."


Williams made his point and the plaques were removed.


The Phillies hope they have a little more success with one of their other stunts – or at least someone does.


A kiteman is slated to shoot off a ramp high in the centre-field bleachers and glide to the pitchers mound with the first ball.


This sounds simple enough but history dictates that the kiteman will need some luck.


In '72, after the players' last strike delayed the start of the season, the fellow trying a similar stunt fell off the. ramp and nearly killed himself in the seats.


The following year the kiteman cleared the stands but that was all as he landed in left field.


With all the gimmicks in the world and predicted perfect weather the Phillies are expecting only 40.000 tonight in the 69,976 capacity Stadium.


Ticket sales came to an abrupt halt when word of the strike was announced.