Atlantic City Press - April 13, 1980

Phils Rip Expos, ‘Heal’ Ruthven


Philadelphia 6, Montreal 2


By Ed Hilt, Press Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA — Phillies’ Manager Dallas Green will never be confused with Oral Roberts. But he's given pitcher Dick Ruthven the faith to feel healed. 


Ruthven’s 6-2 win Saturday before 36,962 fans over the Montreal Expos wasn't the stuff of which Cy Young Awards are made. He pitched seven innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, five walks and getting no strikeouts. He was helped by some spectacular defense and 14 hits (eight of them extra-base). 


But for a guy coming off off-season elbow surgery after being on the disabled list twice last year, the victory was just fine, thank you. 


“In spring training, we kept trying to get Dick Ruthven to eliminate from his mind that he had a bad arm,” said Green after the Phils whipped the Expos Saturday after handling them easily in the home opener Friday night. “I’d say he’s right on schedule now. Boonie (Phils’ catcher Bob Boone) told me his location was getting better as the game went on. I'm very pleased. I was hoping to get six innings out of him and I got 84 pitches in seven innings.” 


Ruthven won his first six games last year as the Phillies, in the first two months of the season, looked like they were going to make a joke of the National League Eastern Division race. 


But it turned into a season of injuries to pitchers, with maybe the biggest blow being Ruthven's bonechipped plagued arm. He won only one more game for a 7-5 record, and the Phils, coming off three straight Eastern Division titles, fell to fourth place. 


He had a rough spring training (7.88 ERA), but this outing may have convinced him he can come back. 


Although Ruthven allowed six hits and five walks against the Expos, he wasn't really in serious trouble. In the first, Ron Lelore hit a slicing, opposite field line drive for a triple, and he scored on a ground out by Andre Dawson for a 1-0 Expo lead. 


After that, Montreal never got more than one hit per inning, and efforts like a Mike Schmidt stab of a Larry Parrish white-hot, two-hopper, and three double plays stifled the Expos. 


If it’s a positive, confident approach Ruthven is seeking, then his team mates seem able to back him up. Garry Maddox, still unsigned by the Phillies, was three-for-four with a single, double and homer and two RBI. The slim, new-look Greg Luzinski roped a double and came close to hitting his second homer of the season, a long fly out to the warning track in deep left-center. Boone hit a double and a single, Larry Bowa tied for sixth with Cy Williams (1,553) on the all-time Phillies hit list with a triple and Manny Trillo was three-for-four with a triple. 


The triples by Bowa and Trillo were back-to-back in the fourth which gave the Phils their fourth run. 


It was 6-1 in the seventh when Green decided Ruthven had had enough and went to veteran reliever Ron Reed. But the big right-hander walked Rodney Scott (who came close to a major league record of six walks with five) and Andre Dawson. They advanced on a ground out. Parrish hit a sacrifice fly and scored Scott Reed walked Gary Carter and put men on first and third. 


Green called Tug McGraw from the bullpen, and the left-hander got Warren Cromartie to ground out to end the eighth-inning threat.

Phils Try Another Way on Opening Day


By Michael Shepherd, Press Sports Editor


It couldn't have been opening day, could it? 


The Philadelphia Phillies won, Steve Carlton went the distance and looked great in recording his first victory, Larry Bowa made an error and Kiteman’s sortie to home plate was perfect.


If you are familiar with the recent history of the Phillies, you know that almost never do any of the above occur on opening day at Veteran’s Stadium. 


But on Friday night against the Montreal Expos, the Phillies won their first home opener since 1974. 


And it takes Bowa sometimes half a season before he boots one at shortstop. 


And Kiteman? After two crashes on takeoff, the hang glider pro finally flew at the Vet. This time it was from a shorter runway in center-field. He circled off into rightfield and then made a perfect landing at home plate. 


Just in case fans thought they had been transported by time warp to another dimension, an old tradition emerged to bring one’s senses back to reality. 


Right after Kiteman's flight, the seasonal resident of the Vet roost made its first appearance — the boo-bird. Yes it surely is the first sign of spring in South Philly when the boo-bird comes out.


Who did they boo? Why the man they recently elected to the Mayor’s office, Bill Green, who was handed a baseball by Kiteman for the ceremonial first pitch. 


The pre-game festivities were the usual spectacular: fireworks, the big band, a choir singing the national anthems of Canada and the United States, the unfurling of the huge American flag and the shenanigans of the Philly Phanatic. 


And the Phillies themselves? One thing is for sure, they are in outstanding physical condition. 


Greg Luzinski, 25 pounds lighter and unashamedly wearing glasses, is the most notable success of Manager Dallas Green's shape up campaign. Luzinski, whose diet no doubt consists of less kielbasa, proved that his dramatic loss of weight did not result in an equal loss of power. With Garry Maddox and Mike Schmidt aboard through walks, Luzinski lined a 2-2 pitch from Montreal starter Steve Rogers to left. 


Luzinski was charged up rounding the bases and raised his fist over his head in the season’s first show of emotion by the Phillies, renowned for their ‘cool’ on the playing field. Maybe the Phils’ corps of fired-up players has increased from three to four with Luzinski joining Pete Rose, Bowa and pitcher Kevin Saucier.


The crowd of 48,460 gave Luzinski, much maligned for a poor season last year, a standing ovation, which he acknowledged with a wave after the prolonged applause summoned him from the dugout. 


A little later, Luzinski demonstrated that the loss of weight may have not improved his fielding. He fell down chasing a liner to left by Ellis Valentine, probably turning a double into a triple. But in fairness, the ball was past The Bull into the corner, and he slipped, perhaps because of his very lightness, while trying to chase the carom. 


The Phils, apart from Green's back-to-basics theories, have not really made any great changes from last year when they faded to fourth from three years as National League East Division champions. 


It's obvious the Phils’ management believes the team has the players and what’s needed is to get the best out of them, hence the emphasis on fundamentals, and to avoid injury, hence the emphasis on conditioning. 


Injuries last season, mainly to the pitchers, devastated the Phils.


On opening day, at least, the Green era appeared to make a good beginning as the 1980 Phillies looked like an improved model despite the fact they did not change their personnel except to bring up a handful of young prospects.

Early Returns on Luzinski Show Bull Winning Battle


By Pete Wickham, Press Sports Writer


PHILADELPHIA — It was one inning out of hundreds, one hit out of thousands. Even one of those wiseacre election computers, the kind television networks use to determine winners a half hour before the polls close, wouldn't dare call this race. 


But Greg Luzinski came out swinging Friday night at Veterans Stadium, and was certainly encouraged by early returns in his battle with the bulge. 


“It’s not the type of thing you expect your first time up, your first swing. But it’s not a bad feeling at all,” said Luzinski, who opened the 1980 season with a three-run homer, and a five-minute standing ovation as the Phils beat Montreal 6-3. 


“Considering what I went through, to be honest, all the hell, and the work I put in this winter to get it behind me, it was a good release of tension. I could feel the butterflies before this game more than usual.” 


The chill of 1979 has been well-documented. Luzinski, always a shade on the chunky side, came to camp in a bulbous state a year ago. He then suffered a deep leg muscle pull in May and waddled through most of the campaign as the player the fans voted most likely to be optioned to the Captain Ahab League. 


He hit .252 with 18 homers and 81 RBI, okay stats as they go. But, unfortunately, he hit a dismal .171 at home, with only seven homers and 30 RBI. Needless to say, he made an inviting target for the verbal harpoon artists in the cheap seats. 


“I had never had a situation like that get to me before, and yes it did affect me,” said Luzinski. “I have no argument with the fans, but the whole thing made life hell for a season. The injury and some problems with my swing all compounded the situation.” 


Luzinski, 29, spent the winter at the batting tee under hitting coach Billy DeMars. And he stayed away from the dinner table, dropping 25 pounds. He also took to wearing glasses instead of contact lenses during night games. 


“The biggest thing, though, was the swing,” said Luzinski. “I was getting around slow on the ball and not going through it like I should. I saw a lot of film of how things deteriorated, and most of my time on the tee was designed just to get around on a pitch quicker.” 


A good example was the first-inning jam ball Steve Rogers mistakenly chose to challenge Luzinski. 


“There was a lot of pent-up emotion at that point,” said Luzinski, who circled the bases with a clenched fist held high in the air. “Schmidty went through the same thing the year before, and came back strong. I knew it wasn’t impossible to come back. Still, after going through all that work, you worry if there are no results.” 


Luzinski is no dreamer. He went 1-for-4 on the evening (repeating with a double in four tries during Saturday’s 6-2 win). Later on, the boos came out when he went after a liner to the wall by Larry Parrish slipped, and let the ball get by for a triple. Ironically, the slip came because he didn't have enough weight to set himself for the carom. 


“I guess they’re expecting me to do everything this year,” he said. “I hit one they cheer me, and get booed six innings later.” 


Let's just say, the polls are still open.