Reading Eagle - June 6, 1980

The Baron’s Corner:  Pitching In Demand


By Larry Shenk


Pitching, pitching, who has some pitching?


When it comes to the most scarce commodity in baseball today, pitching wins hands down.


Since last season ended, the Phillies have been seeking to bolster their pitching staff.


The Cardinals are a prime example of the pitching shortage.  They lead the National League in hitting by a large margin but their bullpen is struggling.  St. Louis’ ace pitcher, Pete Vuckovich, has volunteered to go to the pen to help the club.


Compounding the pitching shortage are injuries.  Within a space of 72 hours during the last week of May, some pretty good quality pitchers went on the disabled list:  Larry Christenson (Phillies), Dan Schatzeder (Tigers), Bill Bonham (Reds), Jim Slaton (Brewers) and Steve Comer (Rangers).


With the June 15 trading deadline just around the corner, Phillies General Manager Paul Owens was asked about the possibility of a deal:


“I just don’t know,” said Owens.  “I’m talking to clubs but I don’t know of a club, with maybe the exception of the Astros, which isn’t looking for pitching.  I’d be willing to take a gamble to get a good pitcher, but I don’t see any who are available.”


N.L. – A.L. Difference


While on the subject of pitching, Bud Harrelson, the former Met and Phillie, now playing for Texas, reports there’s a big difference in pitching between the two leagues.


“My first six at bats over here, I was a bit rusty and expecting to get blown out by a fast ball.” Said Harrelson.  “But, it didn’t happen.  It’s a breaking-ball league.  They throw you breaking pitches when they are behind in the count, 3-1 or 3-2.


“There are some hard throwers, but not as hard as the National League.”…


Whatever happened tp:  Former Phillie shortstop Joe Koppe (1959-60-61).  The 49 year old infielder lived in Westland, Mich., about 15 miles outside of Detroit.  He works as a painter for Skyline Industrial Services and follows baseball as a fan of the Tigers.  “I’ve been to Tiger Stadium several times, especially since Sparky Anderson became manager.  Sparky was with the Phillies in my first season.”  Joe and Mary Lou have six children and one grandchild…


Before the hockey ice melts, an answer to all those baseball critics who cry out each October… “Baseball season lasts too long.”  Well, baseball a year ago lasted 196 days.  Pro basketball this season went 217 days and hockey stretched it out even further, 233 days.


Circling the Bases


Mike Schmidt’s 16 home runs through May 31 were just two shy of the National League record shared by Cy Williams (Phillies, 1923), Willie Mays (Giants, 1964) and Tony Perez (Reds, 1970).  Mike’s total was twice that of the entire Mets team for the same period of time…  How good are the Oakland A’s?  June will tell.  Billy Martin’s gang has 20 consecutive games against the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Brewers… Pittsburgh’s search for additional pitching may come from their triple-A team where Rick Rhoden, ex-Dodger, won five of his first six decisions…  Credit the Expos defense with helping getting the Canadians turned around.  Montreal committed 26 errors in the first 15 games and then cut to just three over the next 15 games…  Broadcasting team of Chris Wheeler and Tim McCarver on Prism Cable TV has a 7-1 record, Steve Carlton winning four of those games.  “Steve’s still winning with me behind the plate,” kidded McCarver…  Remember John Bateman?  The one-time Phils catcher is now the catcher for the touring King and His Court softball team.  John’s beefed up from his playing weight of 220 to 240.