Wilmington Evening Journal - August 22, 1980

McBride is winning games, if not fans


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA - When it comes to Philadelphia's fickle baseball fans, Bake McBride is moving cautiously.


You would think the gifted right fielder would own the town by now, or at least be in the same class with Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.


Instead, McBride is sort of an enigma. Even with the great season he is giving the Phillies this year, the fans really do not know what to think of him. And McBride, likewise, doesn't know what to think of the fans.


Bake McBride tripled home Mike Schmidt with the winning run to give the Phillies a 9-8 victory over the San Diego Padres yesterday and put an end to the madness of a 17-inning marathon. Earlier, he had tripled and doubled and driven in what appeared to be the winning run when the Phils took a 7-6 lead in the seventh.


As his teammates, virtually exhausted, staggered into the clubhouse after the five-hour, seven-minute "business-person's special," McBride was asked if he feels the fans have returned to his corner, if they now accept him as the outstanding athlete he has proven he is.


"I don't know," said McBride, who ended the day hitting .315. "As of right now, I can't say one way or the other. I'm not sure. I don't know how they are going to react in the future, but I imagine the first time I do something wrong, or make an error, I'll probably get booed."


McBride arrived from St. Louis in June of 1977 and helped lift the Phils to the National League East title, batting .339. The next two seasons, plagued by injuries, his average fell to .269 and .280. The fans felt he did not hustle and did not always give a hundred percent. He sometimes does not run out ground balls and this caused more boos.


"I enjoy playing here, but I'm not sure now much they enjoy me," he said.


"Bake's not doing anything this year he has not been capable of doing all his life," said Schmidt, who blasted two home runs and singled to left to start the decisive rally. "I don't know why everybody's making such a big deal out of it.


"He's been a .300 hitter all his life, but now he's hitting from a spot in the batting order (fourth) where he can drive in a lot of runs. He hit first or second most of his career and did not get as many opportunities to drive in runs. He's got the second-leading hitter in the National League (Manny Trillo, .323) batting behind him which helps.


"One of the big advantages for him is that he can top the ball on the ground and because of his speed get base hits. He's one of the toughest players in the league to double up. He's not the 9.8 sprinter he was in college, but he still gets down the line in a hurry. Plus, one of the big things is that he never loses his poise."


The exception was yesterday in the 13th inning when it appeared the Phils, with runners at first and second and nobody out, were ready to end the marathon. The first pitch from San Diego left-hander Dennis Kinney looked like it struck McBride on the shoulder, but umpire Ed Vargo said it hit the bat first.


McBride, who had already started toward first base, got in a heated argument with Vargo. When Bake threw his helmet down, Vargo raised his arm and just about everybody through McBride had been ejected.


"The ball hit my shoulder first and then my bat," said McBride, who recorded his 11th game-winning RBI. "Later, I found out that he was fining me $100 for throwing my helmet down. That's an automatic fine, but I thought I had been ejected.


"I have never been that upset with an umpire before. Once I came back I tried to concentrate on bunting the ball, moving the runners over. I seldom get upset, but when I do, I am able to control my temper so it won't mess my play up."


McBride quickly regained his poise and put down a beautiful bunt. After Trillo was walked intentionally, Larry Bowa and Garry Maddox popped out in foul territory to end the threat.


Schmidt's two homers pushed his season total to 34, tying him with the Yankees' Reggie Jackson for the lead in the majors. After his second of the day, the fans gave him a standing ovation.


"That seemed like yesterday," quipped Schmidt, who has hit two homers in a game five times this year. "This game felt like it was going on forever. It's good to be the home team in a situation like this. When you go this long, you get a little punchy. Eventually, you're more relaxed. It gets to the point that sooner or later somebody is going to win. You just reach back and try to get extra concentration.


"That one inning it was so obvious we were going to win, but Larry and Garry popped out. They had pitches to hit and I'm sure they weren't trying to pop up, but it was as if Kinney had a rabbit’s foot. Everything he threw up there he seemed to get us out with. He worked out of two bases-loaded jams and another with two on. He kept getting out of everything.


"When Bake hit that triple, it was a beautiful sight. I had had enough."


The Phils were coasting to an 8-6 victory when Dave Winfield blasted a two-run homer off reliever Ron Reed. Reed had taken over in the ninth after Randy Lerch had allowed just one run and four hits over six innings.


The victory was an important one for the Phils, who have won nine out of their last 11 games.


Both Pittsburgh and Montreal lost last night, leaving the Phils in second place, just 1½ games behind the first-place Pirates.


EXTRA POINTS – Bob Walk had a tough beginning for the Phils. He gave up five runs in two innings before Randy Lerch came on. Lerch allowed just a run on four hits during six innings and would have been the winner had Winfield not homered in the ninth... Lonnie Smith, who had two doubles and a single in four at-bats, crashed against the left-field wall in the first inning trying to haul in Gene Tenace's triple... Schmidt leads the league with 90 RBI... Larry Bowa was credited with an inside-the-park homer in the sixth when his sinking liner dropped between Jerry Mumphrey and Gene Richards in left-center... The longest game in Veterans Stadium history was on May 4, 1973, a 20-inning, 5-4 victory over Atlanta... Smith has an 11-game hitting streak and his hitting .359.