Gettysburg Times - April 12, 1980

Luzinski Homers in Opener


By Ralph Bernstein, AP Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Greg Luzinski says he holds no malice toward the fan who booed the outfielder unmercifully last season.


“It’s a whole new ball game,” said Luzinski Friday night after his first inning two-out, three-run homer triggered the Philadelphia Phillies to their first opening day triumph since 1974.


The Phillies won 6-3 behind the eight-ht pitching of Steve Carlton before a crowd of 48,460 fans. Two of the run off Carlton came on a two-run homer by Gary Carter in the ninth inning.


The focus, however, was on Luzinski, who, hampered by a thigh injury, had his worst of eight major league seasons last year with a .252 average.


Over the winter, Luzinski lost some 25 pounds and reported to spring training almost a shadow of the physical specimen nicknamed “The Bull.” He hit .405 in spring games, once again demonstrating consistency with his short, compact swing.


After Montreal pitcher Steve Rogers retired the first two batters in the opening inning, he lost control and walked Garry Maddox and Mike Schmidt.   That brought up Luzinski.


Last year the script would have had Luzinski striking or popping the ball in the air. The crowd sort of waited to see if this really was a new “Bull.”


They didn’t have to wait long.


Luzinski went to 2-2 with Rogers and crushed the next pitch over the left field wall for a 3-0 Phillies lead.


“I told you I’d bet my house on the Bull having a great season,” said Phillies’ manager Dallas Green. “That was the first payment.”


As for the standing ovation that brought Luzinski out of the dugout for a tip of the cap, Green said, “I couldn’t feel better.”


The actual winning run scored in the fourth, when the Phillies took advantage of a mental lapse on a Montreal rundown play. Larry Bowa raced to third on a single by Manny Trillo and scored while Trillo was being run down after making too wide a turn at first.


The Phillies added two unearned runs in the seventh. Carlton was safe on an error. Pete Rose walked, Bake McBride doubled home one, and another tallied on a sacrifice fly.


Montreal manager Dick Williams took the opening loss in stride.


“We battled back, although we didn’t stay sharp,” Williams said.


“The Phillies scored on three of their walks, an error and a messed up run-down. That’s five of their six run. And Steve (Rogers) didn’t get the pitched to Luzinski where he wanted it.”


Carlton, who struck out six and walked one, threw 119 pitches, which Green thought was excellent since the lefthander had no real competition during the strike by the players of the last week of exhibition season.


“I wouldn’t expect any less out of Steve than what I got,” Green said. When you get solid pitching like that it’s a no-brain for the manager game.”


Green added: “He went inside when he wanted. He went away when he wanted. On location I don’t think he made more than two or three mistakes in his own mind.”