Philadelphia Inquirer - July 7, 1980
Carlton makes history in 8-3 victory
Southpaw strikeout mark set
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS – It was just another Steve Carlton slider. Sizzling in toward Tony Scott. Plummeting at the last second, as if Carlton had dropped it off the St. Louis Arch or something.
Scott swiped at it, missed, and Carlton walked off the mound, head down, unemotional as ever. It could have been any strikeout, any third out to any inning.
But this blowout of Tony Scott in the fourth inning of Carlton's 8-3 victory over the Cardinals yesterday was more than just another number on Steve Carlton's baseball card.
Carlton has pitched long enough and brilliantly enough that, his achievements sometimes whiz by you like so many Ferraris at Sebring. But this was one you had to freeze for a moment and consider. With that strikeout of Scott – his 2,833d career K – Carlton had fanned more batters than any lefthanded pitcher in baseball history.
That is more than Koufax, more than Spahn, more than former leader Mickey Lolich – yes, more than even Dan Warthen. It is an achievement so remarkable it is tough to grasp. But just think about how many trillion, lefthanders have thrown a baseball in however many zillion baseball games there have been in 105 seasons. That is how remarkable it is.
One for the books
"We were talking about it before the game," said John Vukovich. "Bo" (Larry Bowa) noticed it on the stat sheet, that Lefty had four to go or something. I think we all kind ofstopped and thought for a minute. I mean, damn....
"I'm happy to have been a part of it," Vukovich said, "because I don't think anybody is going to come close to that for a long time. The way he's pitching, he's going to do nothing but add on to that."
The public will never really know what this record means to Carlton of course. He did step out of the dugout to acknowledge a standing ovation in what is still his hometown. But what he really thinks, that is something people who know him can only paraphrase for him.
"I'm sure the record is certainly going to mean something to him when he's able to sit down and reflect on it," said Dallas Green. "But coming in the middle of a game, the way this did, I'm sure the win was more on his mind than the strikeouts."
"Steve has never talked about individual goals. He's not nearly as goal-oriented as some ballplayers his age or at his stage of their careers. He likes the wins."
A minor flaw
Carlton (14-4) got this one with eight innings of seven-hit, seven-strikeout, one-run baseball. It was marred only by George Hendrick's 18th homer in the fourth, the first baseball to leave a ballpark off Carlton since May 19 – 85-1/3 innings earlier.
"Today's game was just what i call a typical Carlton game," said Green. "It was a win.
"I've seen him pitch better. But Lefty just has that capability for going out there when we need a win and giving it to us. He had enough stuff to break a record which may not be broken for a heckuva long time. And he had enough stuff to beat an explosive offensive team. This could have been a tough game for us. But Lefty just put it away."
This was a day veritably filled with historic moments, even beyond Carlton's achievements. Why, for the first time in big-league history, a hitter named Vukovich (John) got a hit off a pitcher named Vuckovich (Pete) – two of them, in fact.
And not only that, they also beat that pitcher named Vuckovich for the first time since April 15, 1978. In the interim, he was 7-0 against the Phillies, including 4-0 last year and 2-0 this year.
They beat him the way they had to, with a lineup that included neither Mike Schmidt nor Greg Luzinski, and came into the game with a total of 16 homers among them. They squeezed in a run, and they moved over runners to set up a run in three straight innings.
"Today," said Green, "is a perfect example of what we can do as a team with less than our best lineup."
They also stroked six doubles and a Garry Maddox homer. Three of the doubles were by Manny Trillo, who then did not depart for the All-Star Game hitting .320.
"Sure, I'll watch it," Trillo said. "I'll be there laughing at it.”
There wasn't much clue Vuckovich was going to be hittable for the first three innings. The Phillies didn't get their first hit off him until Pete Rose singled with two outs in the third.
And Rose was apparently so sure this game would be a 1-0 type, he tried to stretch an ordinary single to left into a double. He didn't make it. But it looked like a worthwhile gamble at the time.
However, Trillo and Bake McBride opened the fourth with back-to-back doubles, giving the Phillies an honest-to-goodness earned run. This marked only the second game in the series in which the Phillies had scored one.
Greg Gross moved McBride over with a grounder to the right side. Then Maddox ripped a nard ground ball at Garry Templeton with the infield in. Templeton took a shot at McBride at the plate, bounced his throw past Ted Simmons for his 17th error, and it was 2-0.
Maddox might have noticed Lonnie Smith closing in On his team stolen-base leadership because he swiped third. So that enabled Bob Boone to get him in with an intelligently stroked sacrifice fly to right.
Hendrick's homer made it 3-1 a half-inning later. But the Phils got another one in the fifth. Vukovich started it by lining his historic hit, a single, to left. Carlton moved him up with a fake-bunt-swing-away chopper. And Trillo ripped his second double to make it 4-1.
Then they finished Vuckovich in the sixth with another run from the Grind It Out blueprints. Maddox pulled a double down the line in left. Boone moved him to third with a bouncer to second that was noteworthy because Boone hadn't hit a ground ball to the right side since May 27.
Then Bowa dropped a squeeze bunt on the next pitch, and it was 5-1. When J. Vukovich stroked his second hit, Whitey Herzog decided that was enough for P. Vuckovich.
Three innings and four Cardinal pitchers later, Maddox lofted a three-run homer to left off Kim Seaman to put it away.
Ron Reed gave up two St. Louis runs with two outs in the ninth. But he was still able to keep Carlton ahead of his 1972 pace. He won No. 14 that year on July 23.
Carlton threw 104 pitches on a field that was estimated to be 130 degrees. He leaves for Los Angeles and the All-Star Game today. But he might be too drained for even Pirates manager Chuck Tanner to make him pitch in it.
"I don't see how he could," Green said. "But we'll pitch him against Tanner (next weekend) whether he pitches in the All-Star Game or not."
NOTES: Greg Luzinski didn't play because of a sore knee, a recurrence of something that bothered him a couple of years ago. Trainer Don Seger doesn't think it's anything serious. Greg Gross, he of the six career homers, hit cleanup…. At the All- Star break last year, the Phillies were 50-41, tied for second, three games out…. National League leaders in runs produced, by position, through Friday: 1B – Steve Garvey (90), 2B – Rodney Scott (64), SS - Garry Templeton (81), 3B – Mike Schmidt (88), C – Ted Simmons (80), OF – Ken Griffey (86), George Hendrick (86), Dave Winfield (83). Only Garvey and Schmidt are All-Stars.... The first four games of this series were completed in a total of 7 hours, 39 minutes. Your average Phillies-Pirates doubleheader in Pittsburgh takes longer than that.... Dick Ruthven and Bob Walk will start Thursday and Friday against the Cubs at the Vet. The rotation for the Pirates is Carlton on Saturday, Nino Espinosa on Sunday, Randy Lerch on Monday.
Moreland: A Texan who likes it hot
By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor
He ground out his dues in Spartanburg, Peninsula, Reading and Oklahoma City, even Venezuela. But in cosmopolitan Montreal, quiet, tobacco-chawing Texan Keith Moreland stormed from obscurity.
"How do I say it and make it sound right?" he had wondered aloud, and then he thought, "Aw, the heck with it," and the words came tumbling out.
"I like being the hero," Keith Moreland said. "What I mean by that, I love being thrown into a situation where it's time to do or die. I like it because I think I got it over that guy who's coming against me mentally. I know I'm going to beat him, and he's not sure whether he's going to beat me...."
He wasn't bragging, merely explaining the way it was, the way he genuinely felt. Those words and the sincerity, the force behind them, told you all you had to know about Keith Moreland, told you why this outgoing, young Texan was going to make it to the big leagues and, more importantly, going to make it in the big leagues.
This was a year ago, when Moreland, now 26, was about to spend his second September with the Phillies. First, though, there was a minor league championship playoff series to get out of the way. Oklahoma City vs. Evansville for the American Association title.
You'd think, with a trip to the big leagues looming, that a young player would be looking past the Triple A playoff, waiting eagerly for it to end, thinking only of that trip to "the show." Not this young player.
He sat in his motel room in Evansville, Ind., that afternoon, and his mind was on the game he was about to play, on the championship his Triple A team was trying to win, on the role he was ready to play.
Had the front office called that afternoon and said: "Forget the playoffs. Catch the next plane to Philly," Moreland would have argued. Finishing out the season with that minor league team, trying to win the championship meant a lot to him.
"I'd like to win it," he said. "Really bad.... You've played 130 games with 25 guys, you want to win it."
"That was Moreland, the super competitor, talking. And Moreland, the team player.
"I like to hit with runners on base," he said that day. "It's time to do it. hat guy (the pitcher) is worried about you. He really is honestly worried. If he comes to me, I'm going to get him. I enjoy that. I enjoy the hell out of that. I love being in a situation here, you know, it's time to go. Late innings, close game, I love to be the hitter every time."
His words came flashing back last week when Moreland played those games in Montreal, when he came up with the bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning of a scoreless game Monday night and drove a high fast ball thrown by Bill Gullickson over the left-field fence. And again the following night when he came up in he eighth inning of a 2-2 game against Montreal relief ace Elias Sosa and rocketed a breaking ball out of sight... and three innings later when he reached out and dunked a Woodie Fryman pitch into short right for the hit that triggered the game-winning rally.
You don't expect a young man just getting started in the big leagues to rise to such pressure-packed occasions, but they are the occasions this young man lives for, and thrives on.
Ask the players who know him best, the ones who were Moreland's teammates in the minors the last few years. They'll tell you all you need to know about Keith Moreland.
"He's a great competitor," said pitcher Jim Wright. "He loves the game, and he loves to win. That goes with every sport. It carries over to everything he does – from card playing to hitting."
One of Moreland's closest friends is Don McCormack, now catching for the Phillies' Oklahoma City farm club. A year ago, they alternated tehind the plate in Triple A, but the competition only brought them closer. Nobody roots harder for Moreland than McCormack… and nobody understands him much better.
"Anything he does, he wants to win," McCormack said. "When he's playing cards with the family he can't stand to lose."
They'd spend hours playing hearts and pluck. McCormack and Moreland vs. their wives. To Keith, it was a life-and-death struggle, every bit as serious as facing a National League pitcher with the game on the line, or rushing in from his roverback position to tackle an Oklahoma ballcarrier for Texas.
"It was always me and him against our wives," McCormack said, laughing. "That's the only way he'd have it. He just loves to win. He'd do anything to help you like on a golf course, he'll do what he can to improve your swing – but he can't stand to lose to you."
It's that competitiveness that helped to make him the athlete he is, that earned him a chance to play in the Texas-Oklahoma football game as a freshman... and that earned him a place on the 25-man roster of the 1980 Phillies as the No. 2 catcher, although he's only been catching for four years.
"Mike Ryan (former Oklahoma City manager who's now a Phillies coach) used to ride him all the time about catching," McCormack said. "They pressured him a lot about learning how to catch…. He'd have a passed ball or there'd be a wild pitch (in a key situation), he'd take it kinda bad. I'd tell him, 'Hey, there are certain things you can't do all the time.' We kinda helped each other. He helped me with my hitting. I tried to help him with his catching."
It says a lot for both of these young men that they turned what might have been a bitter rivalry into a close, mutually beneficial friendship. "You'd automatically think we'd dislike each other," said McCormack, "but it's not that way at all. We were roommates. And now that he's in Philadelphia and I'm still here (in Oklahoma City) we keep in touch. On the way to spring training this year we stopped off to see him in Texas. We spent a couple of days with him and his parents. They're all great people."
"Don McCormack's going to be in the National League next year," Moreland said. "I know he's going to play in the big leagues. I was fortunate enough to make it this year. Don'll make it next year, and he'll be there a long time. He's a tremendous catcher and a tremendous man. He treats my daughter (Courtney, 2½) like she's his own. I love the man to death."
And so the string goes on – a seemingly endless procession of big league-caliber catchers signed by the Phillies and developed by the Phillies. Larry Cox is in Seattle, Jim Essian in Oakland, John Stearns – a National League All-Star for the third time – in New York, Bill Nahorodny in Atlanta, Bob Boone and Moreland in Philadelphia and, waiting in the wings, McCormack in Oklahoma City and Ozzie Virgil, currently knocking down the fences in the Double A Eastern League, in Reading.
For a while it appeared Moreland might go the way of Cox, Essian, Stearns and Nahorodny, that he might have to leave the Phillies organization to find a place in the big leagues.
Certainly, he didn't want to leave. But as the June 15 trade deadline approached, and as speculation about a trade for a pitcher ran rampant, it was impossible for Keith and his wife not to think about the possibility, and to be concerned about it.
"Mentally," he said, "I held together through it pretty well. "I made up my mind I wasn't going to say anything about it. But there was the usual clubhouse talk. 'Where are you going to be traded today?' That kind of thing.
"The first time I read it (a report of a trade involving Moreland) in the paper was the toughest time. It was really tough on Cindy (Keith's wife). You do so much moving when you're in the minor leagues. Seems like you're always packing. You go to spring training for a month and a half. Then you pack to go to Oklahoma City for 4½ months. Then you pack to go back to Dallas. There's no set place. You're always renting an apartment, always moving. Finally you come to the big leagues and you're thinking, 'This is where we're going to be for a while. And then all of a sudden you realize you may be traded.
"Cindy took it a lot worse than I did. She didn't want to do any more moving. She didn't want to have to make new friends. Say, I got traded to San Francisco. She's never been there. I've been there once in my life. We go on a road trip, who does she know? That aspect really bothered my wife."
About a week before the deadline, Moreland bumped into Phillies general manager Paul Owens and asked him about it. The conversation eased Keith's mind. Owens made it clear the Phillies didn't want to trade him, that they weren't about to toss him into a multi-player deal as an extra player. If he got traded, it would be to a club that wanted him badly.
The deadline came and went... and Moreland stayed. Since then, he and his wife have been house-hunting in the Philadelphia area. This is the place they'd like to call home.
"In the major leagues, you can build a home and start a real life," Keith said. "In the minor leagues, you're a nomad."
If the Morelands are happy he didn't get traded, the Phillies should be ecstatic. Like Lonnie Smith, another bright, young prospect who has served his time in the Philadelphia farm system, Moreland has become a key contributor in the club's drive toward the top.
It wasn't easy for an athlete who enjoys playing and competing as much as Moreland does to accept a part-time role, but he has adjusted beautifully. Just as he and McCormack were able to handle the Oklahoma City situation, Moreland and Boone have done it here.
"I don't have any competition with Bob Boone for the (first-string) job," Keith said. "I'm not here to compete with him. He's No. 1. He's still the best defensive catcher in the National League, and when it's all over I still say he'll be hitting at least .270. My competition's with the other clubs."
He keeps himself "in the game" even when he's not playing by "screaming and hollering as much as I can." That's something new for him; he was never much of a screamer before, but he's adjusted.
"I root for Bob Boone as hard as anybody on the team," Moreland said. "He's been a professional in every sense of the word. When I have a question, he answers it to the best of his ability. I respect him very much for that."
And the National League is starting to respect Keith Moreland.
"I like him because he challenges the pitcher," Montreal's Fryman said. "If I threw him a breaking ball away, he went with it real good. If I went inside on him, he opened up and tried to pull it. He doesn't wait until the ball's on him. He's an aggressive hitter. I remember I jammed him last year and he hit a semi-line drive to beat me. The other day I pitched him away, and he hit the ball to right field. He reminds me a lot of the Pittsburgh team. If the ball's close to either side of the plate, he's hacking."
"I played against him a lot in the minor leagues," Montreal's backup catcher John Tamargo said. "I always hated to see him go up there with men on base more than anybody else." That, of course, was because Moreland loves going up there with men on base more than anybody else, and his aggressiveness, his confidence keeps paying off in big hits.
"I think he's a great hitter," said Oklahoma City's John Poff, who played with him for three years in the high minors. "He's the best hitter I've played with if there's a runner 6n third and less than two out. A clutch situation seems to bring out the best in him…."
For a while this season, Moreland found it difficult not to try too hard on those rare occasions when he found himself in the lineup. That's the toughest part of sitting on the bench for a young player. When he gets in a game, he tries to do too much, tries to make up for 10 days of idleness with one swing of the bat or one great play.
"You've got to low-key it," Moreland said. "I'm trying not to get real pumped up when I get in there. The first couple of times I got overly excited. I was leaping at pitches as a hitter, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. And at home a couple of times I dropped the ball when they were stealing on me. I'm still very excited, but I m under control now. I know my job is to play every seven, eight days and come off the bench to hit. Now I understand what I have to do. Before I was trying to play over my capabilities."
In short, he's harnessed that enormous competitive drive – off the baseball field as well as on.
"I don't do the things I used to do," he said. "Boy, I used to play golf and make a bad shot and get mad and cuss and wrap a 5-iron around a tree or something.... It just eats me up inside if I can't do the best I think I can do. But I think I've keyed down in everything – in ball playing, in playing cards, everything."
Moreland, it would appear, has conquered the mental part of the game, which is the toughest part of all.
"There was a great saying in college above the door," he said. "You always saw it when you walked out of the locker room. 'You are what you are,' it said, 'so prepare to be what you are.' I've always remembered that."
What Keith Moreland is, is a perfect example of what has become one of the most overused terms in sports: the winning athlete.
He didn't appear to have the size to be an outstanding football player at Texas... but he was. He wasn't the kind of baseball player who made the scouts go wild at first sight... but the more they saw him the more they liked him.
"I didn't have Earl Campbell talent," Moreland said that day in Evansville. "I didn't have Mike Schmidt talent."
But what he does have, physically and mentally, is enough to make this part-time player of today a likely everyday star of tomorrow.
"I play everything hard," he said. "I'm sure there are times when maybe my body wasn't capable of giving 100 percent or maybe my head wasn't capable of giving 100 percent, but as far as my heart, that's always in it 100 percent. I want to win. I don't care what it takes. That's me... I think we're going to win this year, and I want to be with a winner."
And if he's thrown into the pressure cooker of a tight pennant race in the late innings of a close game, he'll go up there expecting to get the big hit, loving every moment of the one-on-one confrontation with the pitcher. It takes a special kind of athlete to feel that way.
As his old buddies in the minor leagues already knew, and his new opponents in the National League are finding out, Keith Moreland is special.