Philadelphia Inquirer - August 26, 1980

Commentary

 

Mauch:  A man of irony

 

By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor

 

Gene Mauch was managing the Phillies in 1964, and Fred Hutchinson, dying of cancer, had stepped down as manager of the Reds. The Phillies were at old Crosley Field for the last series of the season, and Hutch stopped by, looking for Mauch. "I want to say goodbye to him," he explained.

 

It must have been a terribly touching farewell, and later, his mind still on Hutch, Mauch stuck his head in the Cincinnati dugout.

 

"He said, 'Here's a guy who showed us how to live; now he's showing us how to die,'" Dave Bristol recalled. "You couldn't put it any better than that. I thought it was one of the greatest lines Gene ever used."

 

Gene Mauch led the big leagues in great lines for two decades. He would have preferred to lead in victories, in pennants, in championships, but considering the obstacles he faced for most of those two decades – in Philadelphia, in Montreal, and finally in Minnesota – great lines were easier to come by than great teams.

 

He won no pennants, no division titles; his teams lost more games than they won, and yet even now even as he steps down as manager of a team that is 17 games under .500 and 26½ games out of first place he is considered by many as one of the game's great managers.

 

Doesn't reflect ability

 

Don't tell those who know Gene Mauch and believe in Gene Mauch that his won-lost record reflects his ability as a manager.

 

"I think that's the greatest injustice you can say about him," Bristol, manager of the Giants, said the day Mauch announced his resignation. "He almost won it here (in Philadelphia). He took over a club and kept building it and building it and building it...."

 

His '64 Phillies led by 6½ games with 12 to go... and lost the pennant on the last day of the season, surely the greatest baseball disappointment of his career. The following spring Howard Cosell showed up with a camera crew and requested an interview. Mauch said fine, under one condition: No mention of the '64 collapse. He'd talk about the '65 Phillies, not the '64 Phillies.

 

The interview began. Zap. Cosell made a remark about what had happened in '64 and asked Mauch to comment. Gene looked at the camera, smiled sweetly and said, "You, Howard." The interview ended.

 

Did things his way

 

That was Gene Mauch, a manager and a man who did things his way.

 

"His total fearlessness of his own convictions is just outstanding," Bristol said. "If he thinks something's right and is the thing to do he's totally oblivious to what somebody might say."

 

"I think he ran a baseball game better than anybody I ever played for," said Jim Bunning. " think he's the best manager I ever watched."

 

Not a perfect manager, surely. "The regular players on the club he related to very well," Bunning said. "The guy that was not a regular and did not contribute he kind of ignored."

 

But that was the Mauch of the '60s. The Mauch of today seems to have a far better rapport with his players, regulars and subs alike. And always, always there was that intense concentration on the game, that drive to win.

 

Mauch has a lot of boosters in baseball, but few are more solidly in his corner than Bristol, who coached three years for the man between managing jobs.

 

The one to play for

 

"If you can't manage, that's the best place to be – third-base coach for him," Bristol said. "I like him as much as anybody I've ever known in baseball.

 

"You know, somebody told me one time, 'From Branch Rickey's knowledge of baseball to the next guy's, there's a big space.' That's the way I feel about Gene."

 

That's the way a lot of people feel about him. He belongs in a baseball uniform... on a big-league bench... managing a big-league team.

 

"Do you have any idea when you're going to stop managing?" he was asked this spring. "Yep," Mauch replied, "when it's not fun."

 

The most fun he ever had, Gene said, were the first 150 games of the '64 season. "That," he said, "was the most fun anybody ever had."

 

Obviously, the fun was out of it this year in Minnesota. "I can understand his feelings," Bristol said.

 

 

We all can understand his feelings.

For McGraw, embarrassment led to the inexcusable

 

By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor

 

Tug McGraw throbs with emotion. When he does well – as he usually does – he shares his happiness with the world, slapping his thigh with his glove, waving a clenched fist in the air, letting all that joy spill out.

 

Last night, though, Tug McGraw didnt do well. Fact is, the veteran reliever did very badly, making a rookie-type mistake that cost the Phillies two ninth-inning runs and wrapped up an 8-4 Dodger victory.

 

What Tug did was get careless while trying to issue an intentional walk to Joe Ferguson with runners on second and third. The first pitch was close enough to the plate to give Ferguson ideas. The second pitch was even closer – and the Dodgers' pinch-hitter reached out and slapped it into right field for a single.

 

The game was as good as over then, but Tug McGraw's embarrassment lingered on. At this unhappy moment, as in all those happy ones, his emotions bubbled over.

 

The next Dodgers hitter was Bill Russell, an even-tempered, low-key athlete if ever there was one. McGraw's first three pitches drove him back from the plate. The 3-0 delivery hit him in the seat of the pants.

 

You didn't have to be a mind-read er to figure out that Tug McGraw was taking out his embarrassment, his frustration, his anger – whatever emotions were swirling inside him – by throwing at the Dodgers shortstop.

 

It was, quite frankly, a bush thing to do – so bush, and so flagrant that even-tempered, easygoing Bill Russell did something he had never done before in his life. He charged the mound, triggering yet another of those frightening free-for-alls that have been such a big part of the major league baseball scene this year.

 

"I'm not proud of doing it," Russell said after the battle, and the ball game, were over, "but I had to go out there.... He was coming close. He was coming closer with each pitch. He's throwing the ball 85-90 miles per hour. How am I going to protect myself?... He threw a couple there at my head. The third one especially, I barely got out of the way."

 

Russell was thrown out of the game for charging McGraw. Ultimately, his manager. Tommy Lasorda, was thrown out, too, for arguing – with much arm-waving and logic – that McGraw should have been ejected, too.

 

"I think that's chicken----, what he did," Lasorda said later, between mouthfuls of spaghetti. "I'm surprised at Tug doing something like that. Here's a guy that's been in the big leagues a long time. What did Russell do to him? I lost a lot of respect for Tug. He was a friend of mine. I've known him a long time. But I've lost a lot of respect...."

 

"The incident won't be forgotten, that's for sure," said Don Stanhouse, the ex-Oriole who is finally healthy enough to take his place in the Dodgers bullpen. "It's just a shame. The fans come out to see a good ball game, and this mars it all. It's a crying shame.

 

"I'm a little bit surprised (that McGraw would do something like that). He made the mistake, so why should he throw three inside at Russell and hit him with the fourth one?"

 

Davey Lopes, the Dodgers second baseman, put it stronger than that. Making no effort to control his anger, Lopes told a large group of writers, "There'll be a time he'll go out there and his a-- will be dead, because that's bush. He screws up and he's got to retaliate against somebody else. So he's got his coming, I don't care if it's eight years from now. t thought he had a little more class than that. I guess he doesn't."

 

Before the brawl ended, Kevin Saucier, tendinitis and all, grabbed McGraw and kept him away from the raging mob. The wonder of it all was that Tug wasn't injured in the early skirmishing near the mound.

 

"I went out," Russell said of those frightening early moments, "and all of a sudden I was down. He (McGraw) was wiped out. Somebody (it appeared to be Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker) clipped him."

 

Somehow, Tug survived all of that and stayed in the game – much to Lasorda 's displeasure.

 

"No way should that guy stay in the ball game after that," the Dodgers' manager fumed."... I know Russell had to go (for charging the mound), but Tug had to go, too."

 

Nobody – with the exception of Phillies manager Dallas Green – would even suggest that McGraw's sudden "wild streak" while pitching to Russell was accidental.

 

"We will report that he definitely tried to hit the batter on the fourth pitch " umpire John McSherry said, expressing an opinion shared by almost everybody.

 

"You'll have to ask him (if he intentionally threw at Russell)," parried Green. "I don't think so. I think if he threw (the first) three at him he'd have hit him before he did. I think his control's a little better than that."

 

But if the first three were open to some small question, the fourth certainly wasn't. Right, Tug?

 

Usually, he is the most responsive, the most outspoken, the most delightfully candid of ballplayers. On this night, however, Tug McGraw was uncharacteristically evasive, even sullen.

 

"I don't want to sit here and comment about the Monday night fights," he said at one point. "There's nothing to be gained...."

 

Advised of the Dodgers' comments, and pressed to respond to their charge that he purposely and petulantly threw at Russell, Tug replied, "What difference does it make what the Dodgers say? I'm not going to answer that. It's not a court of law here."

 

No, it was the clubhouse of a baseball team that had just blown a chance to pick up some valuable ground in the pennant race... and the locker of a highly respected relief pitcher who, on this rare occasion, had acted in a most childish and unprofessional way.

 

Everybody slips now and then, and last night happened to be Tug McGraw's turn. His embarrassment at throwing that pitch where Joe Ferguson could hit it was understandable, even if his response was inexcusable. Maybe next time Tug gets upset at himself, instead of taking it out on the next hitter he'll take heed of the words posted next to the nameplate on his locker.

 

"Don't complain how the ball bounces if you dropped it," the message reads.

 

 

Last night, Tug McGraw dropped it.

Phillies brawl, then fall to Dodgers

 

4-run 9th seals 8-4 L.A. win

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

A manager signals to the bullpen for one pitcher and gets another. A hitter drills a two-run single during what was supposed to be an intentional walk.

 

Tug McGraw thunks Bill Russell in the rear end with a 3-and-0 pitch, starting a clear-the-benches melee, and one of the major peacemakers turns out to be that noted pacifist, Kevin (Sugar Ray) Saucier.

 

Some nights you go to a baseball game and just see the normal stuff – a few balls here, a few strikes there, a historic Pete Rose moment... you know the routine by now. And then there are evenings like last night – evenings with enough craziness to furnish "This Week in Baseball" with about a month and a half worth of highlights.

 

The score, in the end, was Dodgers 8, Phillies 4. But that sounds a lot saner than it really was.

 

For eight innings, it was just another 4-4 ball game, which is to say not a bad one.

 

The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead in a hurry on Nino Espinosa. The Phillies bombed back into the lead against Jerry Reuss, one of two guys not named Steve Carlton who might have something to say about the Cy Young Award. Somewhere in there was crammed Rose's 3,515th lifetime hit, tying him with Tris Speaker for fourth on the all-time list.

 

But Dickie Noles, who succeeded Espinosa, couldn't hold a 4-3 lead. The Dodgers tied it in the eighth. Then Noles started the nightmarish ninth by walking Davey Lopes on five pitches. You could see trouble stalking on the horizon even then.

 

"If you're thinking about what you're doing," huffed Dallas Green later, "you're not going to walk the leadoff hitter. You just can't do that."

 

You especially can't do that when the guy you walk has the best stolen-base percentage in the history of baseball. But Lopes also has a hurting hamstring. So rather than run him, the Dodgers tried to have rookie Rudy Law bunt him to second.

 

And Law chopped a killer of an AstroTurf bunt. It ricocheted off the carpet up to about 300-level height When it finally came down, about 50 feet in front of the plate, Bob Boone was there to pounce on it. But by then, Boone's chances of getting Lopes were none and his chances of even getting Law were slim.

 

We'll never know, because his throw hit Law in the back, bounded away, and Lopes motored all the way to third. It was scored a hit, but Green insisted, "He had a chance to get him. If he makes a good throw he still gets him."

 

The next bitter was the dangerous Johnnie B. Baker Jr., known on his baseball card as "Dusty." Green popped out of the dugout, signaled to the bullpen, and in rode McGraw. The only trouble with that was that Green wanted Warren Brusstar.

 

"I told the plate ump (Lanny Harris) what I wanted, which was Bru," Green shrugged. "I thought I saw (first-base ump Paul) Pryor give the proper signal. Then the next thing I knew, in comes Tug."

 

Green snapped at Pryor, who earlier had not given the Phillies a close call on a Noles pickoff attempt, to "wake up." And suddenly, there was Green going chin-to-chin with Pryor as McGraw futilely chased the cart back to the bullpen.

 

Brusstar eventually got to the mound to face Baker, whose last swing against him – back in July 1979 – had produced a grand-slam homer in Dodger Stadium. And Baker hammered Brusstar's first pitch into the lower deck in left, but 20 feet foul. He sliced the next one into the alley in right-center for a double, and it was 5-4.

 

It probably should have been 6-4, except our old buddy Danny Ozark, who now coaches third base for L.A., inexplicably stopped Law at third. Baker, however, was nearly halfway toward third when he found out about it. He was tagged out by Larry Bowa before he got back, so Ozark had gotten the Phils one out where two Phillies pitchers had failed.

 

But there was still trouble. Steve Garvey, he of the 92 RBIs, was next. And Brusstar intentionally walked him, which actually was a notable achievement considering numerous Phillies intentional walks of the past.

 

However, Ron Cey whacked one off the top of the wall in left to make it 6-4. And again Green came out and got McGraw from the bullpen. At least this time he meant it.

 

But it wasn't exactly McGraw's night. He was told to walk Ferguson intentionally. Instead, he added to the Phillies' magnificent 1980 intentional-walk lore.

 

Already this year while attempting intentional walks, Phillies pitchers have issued one wild pitch, thrown one called strike and heaved a pitch so near the plate that it soared past a shocked Boone for one passed ball.

 

This time McGraw threw one ball so close to the plate that it gave Ferguson ideas. The second one was over the outside corner, so Ferguson ripped it to right for a single and two more runs. It was, appropriately, Ferguson's first hit since Aug. 7.

 

Green offered in McGraw's defense, that he "hadn't been on the mound for six days. Still, he's been in that, situation enough before to know how to do that... These things just can't happen.

 

"I guess," said the manager, "that's why they don't change the rule and just let the guy go to first."

 

The game was pretty much lost by then. But McGraw produced some nice film for the 11 o'clock news by throwing three straight balls inside on Russell, then drilling him in the posterior.

 

Nobody heard Bob Arum ringing any bells, but Russell charged out of his neutral corner anyhow. So did about 50 other guys. Eventually, Rose, tackled Russell and hauled him out of it. Saucier, who has initiated every previous Phillies brawl over the last two years, got in his bid for the Nobel Peace Prize by dragging McGraw away. Russell got thumbed. Dodgers' manager Tom Lasorda beefed that McGraw got away with only a warning, and got thumbed.

 

About 45 minutes after the ninth inning had begun, Don Stanhouse put away his first Dodgers win.

 

 

They call Stanhouse "Stan the Man Unusual." But last night, his role in the proceedings was about the most normal thing that happened.

Phils will call up 9 in September – 10 if Dan Larson clears waivers

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

September ought to be a great month for program sales for the Phillies. On Sept. 1, they plan to add nine, and possibly 10, players to their roster.

 

The uncertainty concerns pitcher Dan Larson. Manager Dallas Green would like to recall him from Reading. But Larson is out of options, so he would have to get through waivers and be passed up by every team in the majors to be brought back.

 

Only two of the other nine additions – rookie infielder Luis Aguayo, who was with the Phillies for the first month of the season, and that esteemed four-decade veteran, Tim McCarver – have played in Philadelphia before.

 

Aguayo was with the Phillies the first month of the season, filling the Ramon Aviles utility role. He batted .270, with one homer and six RBIs.

 

McCarver is attempting to become the 11th player in history – and the first catcher – to have played in four decades. The others were Eddie Collins, Minnie Minoso, Bobo Newsome, Jack Quinn, John Ryan, Mickey Vernon, Ted Williams, Early Wynn, Jim Kaat and Willie McCovey.

 

Five players will be called up from Oklahoma City. They are Aguayo (hitting .249 in Okie City with nine homers and 39 RBIs), pitcher Marty Bystrom (5-5, 3.24), second baseman Jay Loviglio (.281, 33 stolen bases), catcher Don McCormack (.264, 13 HRs, 62 RBI) and outfielder Orlando Isales (.255, 7 HRs, 46 RBIs). They will join the club Monday in San Francisco.

 

Three more (in addition to Larson if he clears waivers) will come from Reading. They are outfielder Bob Dernier (.298), catcher Ozzie Virgil (.270, 26 HRs, 94 RBIs) and pitcher Mark Davis (18-6, 2.45). They will join the team when Reading finishes its playoff series, assuming it wins its division. It was leading by one game as of yesterday.

 

Dallas Green said a few-weeks ago he didn't want to call up Davis, who is only 18. But with Kevin Saucier on the disabled list, he needs another lefthander. And Davis might be the best pitching prospect in the organization.

 

 

NOTES: Don Sutton won't be able to start for the Dodgers tonight. Sutton, who is second in the league in ERA (2.21), fractured a bona in his right big toe the other day and isn't sure how he did it. He will fly back to L.A. today to see Dr. Frank Jobe. Rick Sutcliffe (3-8, 5.53) will take his place tonight, opposing Bob Walk.... The Dodgers also placed Reggie Smith (sore shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list and called up catcher Mike Scioscia.... Mike Schmidt needs one more homer to tie the Phillies record for homers in a season at home (22). The record is shared by Schmidt (1975), Greg Luzinski (1977) and Deron Johnson (1971).... Peninsula shortstop Julio Franco was named Carolina League MVP.