Wilmington Evening Journal - July 31, 1980

Phils glad McBride still in Philadelphia


By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Writer


PHILADELPHIA – In June of 1977, Bake McBride arrived from St. Louis and promptly pushed the Phillies to their second straight National League Eastern Division title. Happy at last, Shake 'n Bake hit .339 for the Phils, blasting 11 homers and driving in 41 runs.


“I’d hate to think where we would have been that year without him," remembers Paul Owens, Phillies' player personnel director who made the deal with St. Louis. "He gave us the lift we needed."


Funny how times change.


As recently as 1978, McBride was mentioned in trade talks. The rumors persisted last season and during the winter meetings in Toronto, Bake was afraid to pick up his telephone.


But Arnold Ray McBride is still patrolling right field for the Phils and his teammates are wondering where they would be if it were not for the great season he is putting together.


The Phils methodically came from behind in the haze of veterans Stadium last night to whip the Houston Astros 6-4. Most of the attention was focused on rookie catcher Keith Moreland, who broke the game open with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning off losing pitcher Nolan Ryan.


Moreland has hit in six straight games to push his batting average to .333. During that span, he is hitting at a .529 clip with six runs batted in.


But McBride, after going 5-for-5 in Tuesday night's 9-6 triumph, lashed out two more singles last night to extend his consecutive string to seven straight. He has now hit safely in 11 of his last 14 at-bats. His average is .314.


What is amazing about the season the 31-year-old, seven-year veteran is having is the fact he is playing on two troublesome knees and is bothered by an aching hip.


"But he wants to keep playing, said Manager Dallas Green after last night's victory, which moved the third-place Phils to within three games of first-place Pittsburgh. "A couple of times I have thought about resting him, but he doesn't want to hear it. Once he came into my office and asked if he could play when I had him sitting the game out."


Several times McBride has had fluid drained from a knee, a painful exercise that he puts off as long as he possibly can. McBride hit only .280 last year in 151 games, but played hurt much of the time. There were days he refused to mention his injuries to Danny Ozark, the former manager.


"I have a lot of respect for Bake McBride," says trainer Don Seger. "There are many players in this game who sit out with less problems than he has. At this point, we're pretty darn sure that Bake is going to have sore knees right along, whether it be this year, next year or several years from now. He has resigned himself to that fact and has adjusted."


"In the beginning I only had trouble with one knee," said McBride, who underwent surgery on the right knee in 1976. "Now both of them bother me. And they are painful. This is something I am going to learn to deal with throughout my career. I don't see any way out of it."


The Phils had fallen behind 3-2 last night before their four-run outburst in the fifth. Moreland's bases-loaded single to right put them on top 4-3. Then Garry Maddox, who had three runs batted in, drove in two more after getting life when first baseman Danny Heep dropped a foul pop near the stands for an error.


Dick Ruthven, who joked that he would have had trouble striking out his wife last night, was the winning pitcher even though he needed relief help from Tug McGraw when doubles by Jose Cruz and Cesar Cedeno produced the Astros' fourth run with nobody out in the eighth.


For Ryan, the setback was the second in three decisions against the Phillies and left him with a 5-8 record. He has not won since June 19.


Moreland, who might get an argument from the 31,342 fans, insists he has no thoughts about replacing Bob Boone as No. 1 catcher.


"I'm just the backup catcher," said the red-headed Texan. "I know if we are going to win the National League East, the catcher is going to be Bob Boone. When I get the chance, I just go out and play as hard as I can."


"How many rookies have you seen with his poise?" asked Ruthven. "He goes up the with the bases loaded against one of the best pitchers in baseball and rips a single. His talent is awesome."


Green, who has started Moreland the past two games, says no justification is needed for his choice.


"One guy is hitting .333 and the other guy (Boone) is hitting .222," said Green. "I don't think an explanation is needed. One guy is swinging the bat better than the other."


EXTRA POINTS - Mike Schmidt pulled up lame running from second to third base in the fifth inning and had to be replaced by John Vukovich at third base. Schmidt is suffering from a strained right groin and may miss tomorrow night's opener against Cincinnati... Pete Rose scored the Phils' second run in the fifth, but Houston catcher Alan Ashby insists he tagged Pete out as he slid by. After Rose got past Ashby. he lunged back to touch the plate while the catcher became incensed with home-plate umpire Fred Brocklander. "I feel certain Ashby got Rose, but I couldn't see the play," said Houston Manager Billy Virdon. "He wouldn't have gotten that upset if Rose had been safe"... The Phils ended the season series with Houston with a 9-3 record... Bob Walk will face Bill Bonham in tomorrow night's game, with Steve Carlton going against Mike LaCoss on Saturday and Nino Espinosa against Bruce Berenyi on Sunday... The Phils signed Southern Methodist University linebacker Jerry Kovar yesterday. Kovar, a catcher, was drafted 10th by the Phillies last June. He had two years of eligibility left in both football and baseball at SMU.