Wilmington Evening Journal - July 15, 1980

Bucs knock Lerch from starting rotation


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Pirate slugger Dave Parker hadn't even completed his home-run jog around the bases when Dallas Green bolted from the Phillies' dugout. By the time the manager reached the first-base foul line, he had already signaled to the bullpen.


Starting pitcher Randy Lerch was finished.


Heck, the firestorm of hits and runs had only just begun, but Green's third-inning removal of the young left-hander might have been the most significant thing to happen last night.


Much later, Parker hit another two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Pirates a 13-1 1 victory in a game that was more like one of those beer-drinking Softball fiascos than major-league baseball.


It was this kind of night at Veterans Stadium: The first four innings took an hour and 45 minutes. Crammed into those minutes were three errors, six doubles, two home runs, one wild pitch, three stolen bases, 14 runs and 19 hits to the embarrassment of five pitchers.


Actually, the pattern never changed.


The Phillies kept battling back, but after Parker blasted his two-run shot off reliever Ron Reed in the ninth, old folks Grant Jackson came on. Thanks to a bae-running blunder by the exciting Lonnie Smith, Jackson sealed the Phils' fate and tent the 44,245 customers home after a 3-hour, 33-minute ordeal.


Last night's game was the 81st of the year for the Phils, the exact halfway mark of the season. So, except for its bizarre nature, the game wasn't a crucial one to lose.


But to Green & Co., it is impossible to shrug off another sloppy performance by Randy Lerch.


Lerch, who obviously was not involved in the decision, has a 3-11 record and has not pitched well in his last two starts.


Last night the Pirates scored two runs off him in the first inning and after the Phillies stormed back to take a 4-2 in the bottom of the first, Green thought Lerch would accept the challenge. Instead, he gave up a run in the second and when Parker smashed his first two-run homer in the third, the manager had had it.


In 18 starts this year, Lerch has given up 31 hits, 22 runs, 12 walks and five homers in just the first inning.


"I'm about up to here with Randy Lerch," Green said, holding his hand just below his chin. "We've tried everything we can to get him going. Maybe a trip down to the bullpen will give him some time to think. I just think we have to get a more competitive pitcher out there now for our guys. We're in the second half now and we've got to have some pretty good pitching efforts.


"I've certainly run Randy out there enough to give him every opportunity to show us he’s ready to take a spot in the starting rotation. Really, we're frustrated because we haven't been able to help him. Every time Herm (pitching coach Herm Starrette) comes in here, he's enthused because Randy has thrown like hell in the bullpen."


Green said he was not sure who will replace Lerch (3-1 1, 4.74 earned run average) in the rotation, but that it is his plan to continue with five starting pitchers.


"I haven't thought that far ahead," said Green. "I was rooting for the kid to win. If he had, be would have remained in the rotation. All I wanted was a good, honest effort from him. If he had pitched decently, he would still be there."


In all fairness to Lerch, the Phils pitchers that followed him did not do much better. The only inning in which the Pirates did not score was the fourth, and Lerrin LaGrow gave up two singles before be finally retired the side.


There were times when it appeared the Pirates wets going to break the game open, but the Phils kept rebounding.


When Pete Rose lined a bases-loaded single off relief ace Kent Tekulve in the seventh inning, the Phils took an 11-10 advantage and the Veterans Stadium crowd was beside itself.


But in the eighth, the Pirates tied when pinch-bitter Ed Ott singled home Phil Garner from second base. The eighth was especially tough on Reed, who suffered the loss.


With two out and Garner on second, it appeared Reed had pinch-hitter John Milner struck out. The television instant replay showed the pitch going through the heart of the strike tone, but umpire Dick Stello called it a ball and Milner walked.


"That takes a lot out of pitcher in that situation," Mid Green. "He has the guy struck out for the third out and doesn't get the call I know from experience you lose concentration in a situation like that."


Tim Foil, involved In a three-player collision in shallow center field in the sixth, opened the ninth with a single and Parker followed with his 16th home run at the Vet, most by a visiting player.


"It was a high change-up," said Parker. "You have to be thinking home run after playing three hours. You'd like to drive it out or get one in the gap and give Foil a chance to score. It's the first home run I have ever hit off Reed. I hit 'em both good. I've hit 'em further, but not as hard.


"Home runs are basically accidents. I lust S to make hard contact. Most of the time when you think home run, you end up messing up your swing."


"It's tough to lose a game when you score 11 runs," said Pittsburgh Manager Chuck Tanner. Tonight, Dave Parker hit two of the biggest home runs he's ever hit as far as winning a game is concerned."


The Phils had a chance in the ninth when, with one out, Greg Gross waited out a walk from Jackson, a left-hander who was originally in the Philadelphia organization and a former teammate of Green’s.


Smith, who had already singled four times In five at-bats and scored three runs, lashed a rope to center. The speedy outfielder didn't hesitate at first and continued on to second. But when be neared the dirt part of the base path, he appeared to slow down, apparently thinking Foli would hold the cutoff throw. Instead, the shortstop rifled the ball to Garner and Smith was an easy out.


"In his heart be knows he was wrong," said Green. "Only he knows why be did that. It was a blunder all the way. We had a chance to have a big inning."


With two down, Rose grounded out and it was over.


EXTRA POINTS - Manny Trillo blasted his first homer of the season and had a double and a triple. His average is now.329, best in the National League... When Rose bit his bases-loaded single, it put his average at.300. When he grounded out, it dropped to .299. Pete, incidentally, was the National League player of the week... Smith is the seventh player this year to get five hits in a game. The last Phillies' player to get five in a game was Richie Hebner on July 30, 1978 at Cincinnati... A total of 35 players were used in the game... Mike Schmidt, who was caught in a base-running blunder of his own in the sixth, reinjured his hamstring pull slightly... The Phils left immediately after the game for Houston and the start of a 10-game trip.

Short is still going strong


By Matt Zabitka


THERE USED TO BE a time when Chris Short was mobbed by reporters in the locker room after games in which be pitched for the Phillies. The newsy guys with the pads and pencils would hang onto every word Short would say in describing the pitch that worked best for him, how he struck out so-and-so with a breaking ball or fastball, etc., etc. And then, dressed in civvies and beaded for his car or the team bus outside the stadium, Short would have to battle through hordes of autograph seekers.


Today, at 42 and about 25 pounds heavier than his major-league pitching weight of 215, Christopher Joseph Short is still tossing the white ball across the plate, this time for Colonial-Wallace of the Delaware Semi-Pro League. But now there ii do gaggle of reporters descending on the Claymont resident after each game be pitches. There isn't even a small cluster. And if the one-time fireballing left-hander, who was with the Phillies 13 years (1960-1972), gets four or five requests for autographs at a semi-pro game, be is tickled pink to be remembered.


Many of the autograph seekers today are fuzz-faced kids who weren't even born when Snort was the toast of the Phillies, posting impressive records of 17-9 in 1964, 18-11 in 1965, 20-10 in 1966 and 19-13 in 1968. But the youngster read record books and seem to know all about the baseball heroes of yesteryear as well as those of today.


THE NATIVE OF MILFORD, who pitched for Lewes High (since renamed Cape Henlopen) and Georgetown in the American Legion League en route to the majors, pitched 2,252 innings in 459 games, recording 1,585 strikeouts and posting 24 shutouts during his long stretch with the Phillies.


During the '60s, Short was to the Phillies what Steve Carlton is today – the team's No. 1 lefty.


A three-time winner of the Wilmington Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association's Athlete of the Year Award (1962-65-66) and a 1979 selection to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, Chris was twice selected to the National League All-Star team (1964-67).


A man who doesn't like to dwell in the past, be shrugs off the the absence of adulation that dogged him during his big-league career.


"Look, you know it's gonna happen,” he said. "You can't be up there (on a pedestal) all the time. New people keep coming up. I have no regrets."


DURING HIS CAREER with the Phillies, he played under seven managers – Eddie Sawyer, Andy Cohen, Gene Mauch, George Myatt, Bob Skinner, Frank Lucchesi and Paul Owens.


"Mauch was by far the best manager I ever played for," said Short, who wound up with a 135-132 major-league career record, including a 45-game stint (3-5) with Milwaukee in 1973, his last year in the majors. "It's true, Mauch had some personal conflicts with players. Not all, just a few. When a manager has 25 players to deal with, he is confronted with as many different personalities. It's s tough job for a manager. I liked the guy very much. It was a matter of learning his way of managing. He always treated me fair. Once I started, he gave me the ball every fourth day.


"As for Lucchesi, I got along with him very well when he was my manager my second year in pro ball, in 1958, at High-Point-Thomasville (of the Carolina League). But we had some conflicts when he was my manager in the majors. Two-three things I didn't appreciate when I was pitching. We kinds aired them out at each other.


"Skinner, I liked him. We got along fine. Like Mauch, he gave me the ball every fourth day.


"When Sawyer was managing, I pitched three games for him in 1959 only during April and the beginning of May. The next season, when I rejoined the Phillies, Sawyer was there for only one day (he was succeeded by Andy Cohen), so I can't form an opinion about Sawyer as a manager. Our relationship was too brief. Same goes for Cohen, Myatt and Owens. They all managed only briefly."


Now in his third year as an insurance agent, Short confessed that he still follows the Phillies very closely, but admits he hasn't seen a Phils' game this year. "The last Phillies' game I saw was last September. I just haven't had the time," he explained.


"In addition to my business commitments, I'm playing baseball with Colonial-Wallace and Softball with the Delaware Cats in the Blue Hen Conference. We play softball Mondays and Wednesdays at places like Concord High, Delcastle Recreation Center, Alapocas and Brandywine Springs. I play first base in . softball. No pitching. If there's a conflict between baseball and softball, I go with baseball. I've missed eight softball games because of baseball. I'm out there on the field five nights a week, playing either baseball or softball. And weekends I go to the shore."


Short gives Dallas Green, a teammate at Buffalo in 1959 and with the Phillies in the '60s, high grades as a manager.


"I think Dallas is doing a great job, considering that this his first full year as s manager and he's still in the learning process. He doesn't have an easy job. I think he has a good rapport with the players."


PITCHING FOR THE PHILLIES, Short had his share of control problems. He walked 762 batters. Asked how his control is today, pitching in the Semi-Pro League, he replied, "I haven't hit any batters yet. I don't think so. I've walked a few, but my control is much better than what I thought it would be. I still throw quite a few fastballs, but I have to spot them better. Remember, I haven't pitched in six years. Last time I did any pitching was in 1974, with Marts in the Semi-Pro League. That year, in the fourth game, I pulled a groin muscle and didn't play the rest of the season."


This year, in his comeback, be tossed a 2-0 two-hitter for' Colonial-Wallace in his debut at Canby Park, elevating his spirits. Entering this week, he had a 5-1 log, with his only loss coming at the hands of Parkway.


"There are a lot of good players in this league," he said. "One kid who is really doing an outstanding job Is (teammate) Joe Miller. He's the son of Harry Miller, the head baseball coach at Widener University. Joe has really impressed me with his hitting and the way be plays the outfield. I don't know why be isn't playing pro ball. I understand he was away in pro ball briefly, but why he didn't stick I don't know."


Short used to play before many thousands when he wis in the majors. Now bis left-handed slants are watched by acres of empty spaces in semi-pro stands. But he shoots down comments that the league isn't drawing.


"We've had a number of large turnouts at games. One game at Dyer Field we had about 400 fans. I think there's a lot of interest in the league games."


One thing that hasn't changed in his transformation from a heralded major leaguer to the sandlots of the Semi-Pro League is his desire and determination.


"I still get butterflies when I go out there to pitch. I still get that same feeling as when I pitched in the majors. When you lose that, it's time to retire."


Chris Short, at a youthful 42, just three years shy of drawing his first base hill pension check, is far from thinking about retirement.