Allentown Morning Call - April 12, 1980
Fans are bullish on Luzinski once again
By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – Like an adoring mother, or rather 48,460 adoring mothers, the crowd at Veterans Stadium gathered Greg Luzinski to its breast last night and said: "Greg, all's forgiven. We're glad you decided to stay, my son."
In about as dramatic situation as you can get for the first inning of an Opening Day game, Luzinski deposited a 2-2 Steve Rogers pitch into the lower deck in left-field, leading the Phillies to a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Expos and, just as importantly, instantly purging himself of the sins of last season.
"Last year I went through hell out here, no question about it," said Luzinski who hit like a bull on the road but like a picador (.187) at home. "Before the game, I had a lot of butterflies. I was anxious to get it going. And when I got into that situation and was able to put it out, it was a great feeling for me."
It was so great, in fact, that Bull practically tore off third base coach Lee Elia's hand as he rounded third. A few steps from home plate, Luzinski raised his fist in the air. And, just before he got in the dugout, Larry Bowa and he exchanged slap-shakes that would've made Julius Erving and Darryl Dawkins proud.
It didn't end there. While Bob Boone politely refused to step into the batter's box, Luzinski responded to a standing ovation from the crowd by reappearing and tipping his hat. This kind of stuff is usually reserved for October of the final chapters of heroic baseball novels.
"I just let my emotions go," said Luzinski. "I wasn't trying to show up Steve Rogers or anything like that. I was just expressing myself."
Luzinski 's three-run expression was not the whole story, of course, but it was about 80 percent of it. There was also the matter of Steve Carlton turning in a rare route-going Opening Day performance and thus answering the question of the significance of missing the final week of spring training.
It's a good thing Carlton's performance answered it because Steverino, who is nothing if not consistent in his philosophical positions, did not. He remained in the training room until the Fourth Estate was forced out of the locker room. So, it was up to catcher Boone to pick up the Tim McCarver mantle.
"He had great command of all his pitches," said Boone who, as National League player representative, was as pleased as anyone with the huge attendance. "He had great location, too. When Steve is throwing like that it makes my job easy. He can use both sides of the plate and do just about anything he wants out there."
Carlton did exactly that until the sixth inning when Ellis Valentine's triple scored Rodney Scott (single), cutting the Phils lead to 4-1. (Just to show he still has feet of clay, or possibly concrete, Luzinski slipped on Valentine's hit and Garry Maddox had to come hustling over from center to pick up the ball.)
The Phillies scored two insurance runs in the seventh to allow Carlton a bit of a slipup in the ninth. He surrendered a double to Parrish, then a well-hit home run to Gary Carter, the Expo catcher's 10th lifetime at the Vet.
The unusual thing about Luzinski's first-inning homer was that he got a chance to hit it. With two out, third hitter Maddox took a 3-2 pitch that was awfully close to draw the walk. Maddox walks as infrequently as any regular in baseball (only 17 times last season). Rogers then walked Mike Schmidt he said later that he was not trying to thus giving Luzinski the Merriwellian opportunity.
The Phillies picked up their fourth run in the fourth inning on a bit of Babe Ruth League baseball.
With Larry Bowa on first, Manny Trillo singled off Rodney Scott's glove in short right and Bowa took off for third. Shorstop Chris Speier cut off Ellis Valentine's throw to third but Trillo had already started for second and he was trapped. Scott started to run him down and possibly could have tagged him, but Bowa took off for home and Scott had to throw there. He made a poor high throw and Bowa slid under Carter.
To demonstrate that it just wasn't the Expos' night (though they probably knew that when a Kiteman at last made it into the infield in the pregame show), the Phillies cut off a run at home in the top of the fifth. With Cromartie on third after a triple, Speier sent a hard grounder back to the mound. Cromartie had started home when Carlton got his glove on it, threw it to Boone and the catcher was able to tag Cromartie halfway up the baseline.
NOTES: After not making an error at the Vet all last season, Bowa botched a more-than-routine grounder in the fourth…
Luzinski's homer was his 205th, enabling him to pass somebody named Dick Allen who had 204…
Manager Dallas Green said he's "comfortable" with the batting order as it stands. That means Bake McBride (two doubles last night will be in the second slot for a while, followed by Maddox, Schmidt and Luzinski.
Phillie fans refuse to strike back
By Gordon Smith, Call Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA – No matter what turmoil money brings to their game… No matter who they think is right or wrong… No matter how high ticket prices soar, the baseball fan, whether by addiction or adulation, simply refuses to turn his back on his game.
They spoke ot boycotting. The players' threatened strike has upset all baseball fanatics. Yet while they speak harshly of their heroes in high socks and shiny plastic batting helmets, they continue to support them.
From coast to coast and sea to shining sea, the people who feed these bold young men ol Hashing spikes and hurricane swings are turning out in record numbers again.
At Veterans Stadium last night, 48,460 came to watch their Phillies, for the past four Septembers, many of those same fans swore up and down they wouldn't return to be disappointed again. But they did, and they will.
Negotiating problems and annual autumnal disappointments aside, all they need is a quick fix. Like a reformed heroin addict, one scratch of the spike is all it takes.
Greg Luzinski smacks another home run… Garry Maddox makes another seemingly impossible catch… Larry Bowa scores from third while Manny Trillo intentionally gets hung up between first and second… Bake McBride shows signs ot a super season to come by stroking two doubles, and everything is right again.
So today even more will spin the turn-styles to watch these oft-egotistical, seldom penniless heroes of spring and summer play their child's game for more money than presidents make and slightly less than banks put away.
"To me it has nothing to do with money," says 43-year-old John Brill of Chester, one of 18 fans interviewed last night. "This is what it's all about," he said, pointing to his 9-year-old son clutching a baseball autograph by Mike Schmidt. "I don't listen or read about all the negotiating stuff. To me baseball is played on the field, and that's the only part I watch."
And, really, few fans realize what the latest issue is all about anyway. Practically all criticize the players for asking for more bread. And only two – a pair of buddies from Milford, who traveled three hours to see the opener – seemed to understand the actual issue, that being the owners seeking more compensation when they lose players through tree agency.
“Baseball players are such an elitist group," said Tom Hogan, who left Milford with his pal, Bruce Blitz, at 3 p.m. yesterday. "I don't begrudge them money, they have to make it while they can. But, like Bruce says, they should consider the fans, too. Free agency allows established stars to make that bundle they feel they need to get through later years. But, you have to feel for the owners, too. All they get for compensation is a high draft choice, which amounts to an untested high school or college player. They want to have a pick from the roster of the team that signs the free agent. They want to be able to protect 15 of the roster players. I think that's fair."
Hogan's pal, Blitz, added, "I'm personally against unions. I'm for free enterprise all the way. We've had a lot of teachers' strikes in our areas. You can replace teachers, but how can you replace a Pete Rose?"
U.S. Grant Brosh, 55, of Parkside, worries about ticket prices as salaries go up. far as pay goes, most of them get enough. The more they get, the higher ticket prices go. I believe players should have the right to structure their own lives, but I'd hate to see the strike come. It would be bad for both players and owners. But I'd come back alter the strike. I wouldn't stay away, not me."
Fourteen-year-old Mike McClain of Brookhaven, was typical of all youngsters questioned. "They shouldn't ask for more money and more free agency. They're paid enough. But no matter what the players do it wouldn't keep me away from coming to the games."
Dave Booz, a 42-year-old Burger King manager, said his season tickets cost him more this year. "And this free agent thing is out of hand. My feeling is that all owners should get together and have set pay scales. It's a vicious cycle."
Dave Evans, sitting with his girl friend in box seats in the front row behind third base, didn't pay for the ducats. They were given to him by a friend who owns the box. "If there's a strike I wouldn't judge who's right or wrong. I'd just be upset because I couldn't see any games. I wouldn't want somebody to tell me I'm making too much money."