Philadelphia Daily News - June 14, 1980
Lonnie’s Lucky On 13th
By Bill Conlin
Lonnie Smith, 24, was on base four straight times. He collected three singles, a double and a walk. He scored two runs, stole a base and sent shivers of excitement up and down 31,015 Vet spines.
Pete Rose, 39, lashed four singles batting behind Smith and moved past another Hall of Fame legend. His fourth hit, a sixth-inning single to center, moved him past Honus Wagner into fifth place on the all-time list with 3,431 base hits. Utter the four names ahead of him with reverence – Tris Speaker, Stan Musial, Henry Aaron and Ty Cobb.
It should have been a night of tribal celebration, with the Phillies falling one shy of a major league record. They started the game with seven straight hits on the way to a seven-run destruction of Randy Jones and John D'Acquis-to and the young rightfielder and the very mature first baseman combined for eight hits in the Phillies' 9-6 victory over the Padres.
BUT NOOOOOOOO. Dallas Green was seven outs from getting through Friday the 13ih without trauma. But with two outs in the seventh, rookie third baseman Tim Flannery dropped a bunt to the left of the plate. Dick Ruthven had no chance for a play, but he tried one anyway, unable to stifle the instincts which cause him to reach for line drives up the middle with his pitching hand. He tumbled fielding the ball, landing heavily on his right shoulder and came up throwing from a prone position. The ball went about 10 feet and Green knew it was more trouble.
He watched Ruthven throw one painful warm-up pitch and waved in Ron Reed.
"He has a sprain," the manager said afterward. "I know he's hurting and it might cost him a start. I don't know where we are yet I'm not one to panic. I knew the way he hit it wasn’t going to be a real good thing."
It wouldn't be a real good thing if the Phillies were scheduled to play the Bad News Bears for the next week, let alone leaving for the West Coast tomorrow evening. All Green can tell you about his id-range pitching plans is that Steve Carlton will start tonight, Wednesday in San Diego and Sunday in San Francisco.
He’ll know more about Ruthven tonight. Be advised, however, that a pitcher with a sprained shoulder is like an Indy 500 car with a cracked distributor.
LETS DWELL ON the good news while we can. Smith, giving somebody – hopefully the Phillies – a good look at him while Bake McBride recovers from a severe cold, might be playing himself out of the showcase and into a career.
Hell, Green was even excited when Lonnie broke too soon on a third-inning stolen base attempt and was hung up in a rundown.
"He overcomes all that with greatness," Dallas gushed. "He's fresh and that's good for a team."
Smith is hitting.432 and has the one thing that can't be taught, bought or developed – raw, blinding speed. I timed him to first on a foul bunt attempt the other night in 3.58 seconds, outstanding for a right-handed hitter. He goes from first to third like a Derby Lane stakes greyhound.
"I think he can hit" said Rose, who has worked quietly with Lonnie since his first spring with the Phillies. "He's a make-things-happen kind of guy. I'd hate to think of what he can do if they ever turn him loose stealing bases. When he scored from second on that ball I hit to Dave Winfield it was no contest. And you don't see many players beat Winfield like that. He still makes some young mistakes out there, but they're aggressive mistakes and I never get on anybody for making them."
Rose preaches to Smith that the field is his from foul line to foul line. He talks to him before each at-bat, going over the pitcher with him.
“I NEVER LET him go up there that I don't talk to him," Rose said. "Some guys don't want to know what a guy throws, but it gives some other guys an edge. He's a hitter similar to me in style in that he's got to use the whole field, that there's a lot of money to be made on the whole field, why there's a rightfielder out there when a right-handed hitter's at bat. Use the whole field and there's no way they can defense you. It's a lot easier to defense a home-run hitter because he's usually a pull hitter."
Smith has been able to shrug off the ample evidence that he is on exhibit, and if that's the case, Paul Owens' phone should be ringing off the hook.
Meanwhile, it would take a terrific jolt to wipe away the smile Lonnie's been wearing since his wife. Pearl, came to town from their home in Spartanburg, S.C., with their son.
"I've definitely been 100 percent since my wife came up three days ago," he said. "I'm happy to be with my family again and all I can do is go out and play. Every day I'm out there I feel more comfortable. The more you play, the better you're going to play. I'm feeling more comfortable in right field with each game."
Meanwhile, McBride is ready to play again, is hitting.302 and Green will have a little trouble making out the lineup card tonight. "Bake is back feeling pretty decent," Dallas said. "The big decision will come tomorrow. Somebody's got to sit."
He should be so deep in starting pitchers.
PHILUPS: Mike Schmidt pounded his 19th homer to highlight the near-record first inning. It was the sixth of his career off Randy Jones, who reinjured a muscle in his right side... Dick Ruthven didn't exactly dazzle the Padres after the Phillies presented him with a 7-0 lead. He gave up five runs on nine hits and has allowed 105 hits in 81 innings pitched. By contrast. Steve Carlton has allowed 72 hits in 108 innings... Warren Brusstar and Nino Espinosa have agreed to spend 20 days in the minors starting Monday. Brusstar will report to Peninsula, Espinosa to Spartanburg. Both are Class A clubs. "Twenty days is the maximum," Dallas Green said. "They'll be brought back at any time short of that time it's felt they are ready to pitch. Hey, the way things are going I might have to get 'em back here in a hurry."... Padres are suffering through a 1-6 trip... Schmidt and Greg Luzinski have outhomered the rest of the club, 33-14... After consecutive hits by Lonnie Smith, Pete Rose, Schmidt, Luzinski, Bob Boone, Garry Maddox and Larry Bowa, Manny Trillo just missed tying the record of eight with a line-drive sacrifice fly Jerry Mumphrey ran down in left-center. The Phils share the mark with the Pirates. Both clubs did it in 1975. It's hard to believe, but the American League record for hits at the start of a game is just four, held by many... Aside to Rick Wise: Passsssports, pleeeease.
There were three winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff during the Phillies-Padres game last night.
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