Philadelphia Inquirer - June 12, 1980

Couple sues over Phils’ rain-delayed game


By Tommy West, Inquirer Staff Writer


A Montgomery County couple filed suit yesterday charging that the rain-delayed baseball game Monday night between the Phillies and the San Francisco Giants should have been called off and asking that the fans who attended the game be given either a refund or a ticket to another game.


The suit, initiated by Matthew S. Averback and his wife Margaret, was filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia as a class-action suit on behalf of all fans who purchased tickets to the game.


Averback, 37, owner of an auto parts store in Glenside, said he and his wife left Veterans Stadium about 10:30 p.m. during the second rain delay in the game. He said he decided to file suit "when I woke up the next day and saw that they had played the game." He said the decision to continue the game showed "wanton disrespect for the people who paid good money" for tickets.


The game, which began at 7:35 p.m., ended at 3:11 a.m. Tuesday. By that time, only a few hundred of the 28,702 fans who went to the game were still in the ballpark. The game was won by the Giants, 3-1.


The suit names as defendants the Phillies, the National League and Robert Engel, identified in the suit as umpire-in-chief for the game. It was filed by Montgomery County attorneys Michael Payne and David Starfield.


"We're alleging essentially," said Payne, "that there was a breach of contract on behalf of all of the defendants, in that there is an agreement when you purchase a ticket for a game that you do so with the belief that you will have an opportunity to view the game under reasonable weather conditions....


"We're saying under the circumstances of the case, the umpires had a duty and an obligation to call the game....


"As a practical matter, on a weeknight, you couldn't expect people to stay at the ballpark until 3:30 in the morning to watch a baseball game."


Bill Giles, executive vice president of the Phillies, said he had not yet seen a copy of the suit.


"We had no control over it (the decision to play the game)," Giles said. "We disagreed with the way the umpires handled it in some regards. But there's not very much we can do about the umpires' decision."

Rookie leads romp over Phillies, 7-4


Murray, Giants rip Lerch


By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer


Well, Dallas Green did say he wanted to give Lerrin LaGrow more work.


But, of course, he did not want to do it at the expense of Randy Lerch, the Phillies' most excitable boy, and that is basically what happened in the Phillies' 7-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants last night at the Vet.


The Phillies, now just three games over .500, paid dearly for Lerch's latest trauma in his troubled, 2-8 season. In this effort, for lack of a better term, Lerch lasted only 2-2/3 innings, in which the Giants (last in the National League West with a .238 team batting average) got six hits, two walks and a quick 4-0 lead.


So the Great Starting Pitcher Hunt goes on. Green is not encouraged by the Phils' trade prospects. "Nobody wants to give up pitching," he said. And he does not want to give up one of his prized young players, such as Lonnie Smith or Keith Moreland.


Mostly, though, Green is discouraged by what Lerch keeps showing him. Evidently, Lerch did not turn any corners in his win (6-2/3 innings, 5 hits) over the Chicago Cubs last Saturday. So where does he go from here? He has already been dropped from the rotation once.


"I guess persevere is a good word to use in this case," Green said after last night's flop. "I'd like to use the shock treatment. I'd like to get him back in gear. We've tried everything we know, and I'm sure he's done the same."


Shock treatment? "There's only one form of shock treatment left," he said, refusing to spell out words like Oklahoma City or Reading.


"Maybe we've been too nice." Green continued. "I don't know. Eventually, a pitcher gets this way – well, it's just up to him. You can teach and cajole and hope and pray and keep running him out there. But he's the guy who has to screw his head on. Instead of being bleeped off in the clubhouse and tearing the clubhouse up, he should use that fire to get the hitters out."


The Phillies, who are not exactly crushing a lot of balls lately, tried to climb out of the hole Lerch put them in, but they could not do it against Giants starter Ed Whitson, who did exactly what Green wanted to see from his guy – allow six hits and three earned runs in 7-2/3 innings.


Whitson was obviously tiring with two out in the eighth, when he walked Mike Schmidt (one hit in his last 14 at-bats) and then threw a 1-2 pitch that Greg Luzinski conked into the first row in straight-away left field. The Bull's 14th homer of the season, and second in two nights, made it a 6-4 game. But after Bob Boone lashed a single, Greg Minton – who the Phillies last saw (maybe) on the mound at 3 a.m. Tuesday – came in to get Garry Maddox on a pop-up and sail through a 1-2-3 ninth. Meanwhile, Jack Clark (who also had a double and a triple) homered off Tug McGraw in the ninth to give the Giants more padding.


Rich Murray had already added a few layers of it.


The 22-year-old rookie first baseman (brother of the Baltimore Orioles' Eddie Murray) finished the night with three hits and four RBIs. That is pretty good considering he came into the game, only his fifth in the major leagues, with two hits and two RBIs. He was called up from Phoenix last week when the Giants put Mike Ivie on the disabled list with what the team is calling "mental exhaustion."


Bill North led off the first inning with a single and a stolen base. It looked like he just might die on second when Lerch got Darrell Evans and Clark on pop-ups. But Murray, the cleanup hitter who broke in against Joe Niekro, Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton in his first three games, hammered his first pitch, a breaking ball, right over the 371 sign in left for his first big-league home run.


"Yeah, it's different against Lerch," Murray said. "I mean, anybody's a big difference after Ryan. He's throwing 99 (mph) and the other guy is throwing 90."


Maybe. Lerch escaped a scoreless second after allowing a Johnnie LeMaster double. But he was burned in the third. With one out, Clark doubled and scored – running on the pitch – on a Murray single up the middle. Larry Herndon followed that with another single, and Green looked like Steve Riddick hustling to the mound.


"I was mad," Green said. "I tried to use toughness. I told him to pop the bleeping breaking ball some. I couldn't do it. Bobby Boone couldn't do it. They (the Giants) were sitting on his fastball. He wasn't throwing anything, as far as I could see, that could get people out."


And after Lerch proceeded to walk Rennie Stennett to fill the bases, Green was out again, calling for LaGrow out of his bullpen.


The Phils made it 4-2 in the sixth on Boone's two-out, two-run double that Herndon kicked and fumbled in front of the rolled-up tarp in left. But the Giants gave Whitson – who saw only 10 runs scored in his behalf in his last 12 games – two more runs off Kevin Saucier in the seventh, with Murray greeting Dickie Noles with a single to score Clark and net his fourth RBI.


That was too much for the Phillies to handle on this night, another horror story for Randy Lerch.


"It's hard for our guys to get juiced up," Green was claiming, "when they know the pitcher's not doing the job, not using the ability he has. Randy Lerch has ability. It's up to him to go out and prove it."


Those are familiar words, of course, words that the Phillies have lived by – and died by, too.