Daily Oklahoman - May 15, 1980

Phillies-89ers:  The Start of Baseball’s Last Week


By Al Carter, Staff Writer


Baseball, as we know it, may end a week from today.


With that thought in mind, the 89ers are expecting 10,000 local fans to eat, drink and be merry tonight as the parent Philadelphia Phillies arrive for an exhibition game at All Sports Stadium.


The Phils and players for the other 25 major league teams have vowed 10 strike seven days hence. And, with no negotiating breakthrough in sight, there are indications the national game will not be played this summer for the first time since the Civil War.


The outlook? Even 89er general manager Patty Cox is curbing her usual optimism.


"I heard that (Phils president) Ruly Carpenter is already cutting checks to return to box seat holders," Cox said Wednesday. "We have his word that we'll be able to continue. But I just wonder for how long."


The crowd for tonight's 7 p.m. start isn't expected to match the 18,563 that turned out last August to see the Phils pin a 5-3 loss on the 89ers. Pre-sale tickets this time are near the 9,000 mark, a satisfying figure considering the contest twice came close to being scrubbed.


First, the May 15 date just beat the May 22 walkout date set by the players' union. Second, travel inconveniences started Phillies management to wondering if the team could back out of the game. But the 89ers management turned white at the thought of losing its single biggest opening of the season and the exhibition was given a reprieve.


"Last year we had all year to sell the game and (Pete) Rose was really hot," Cox said, explaining diminished interest in the contest. "Another thing is this impending strike has turned a lot of fans off. There is no fan sympathy for the players, not with all the inflation and gasoline prices."


Phillies manager Dallas Green will use two pitchers still on the disabled list. Green wants a good look at right-hander Nino Espinosa, who'll draw the start. Espinosa, battling a sore arm, has yet to make an appearance this season.


Green will also employ a inactive 89er hurler, right-hander Marty Bystrom. An impressive showing by Bystrom, shelved since spring training with a pulled hamstring muscle, could earn the 21-year-old an instant spot on the parent club.


Right-hander Jose Martinez will start for the 89ers, who'll use the exhibition to kick off an eight-day homestand against Indianapolis and Wichita. Martinez is struggling with a 1-3 record and an 8.85 ERA this season.


Unlike last year's Phillie team, this edition has several 1979 89ers on its roster, including catcher Keith Moreland, infielders Luis Aguayo and Ramon Aviles, and outfielder Lonnie Smith.


Lee Elia, who managed Oklahoma City to the Western Division championship in the American Association last summer, is now third base coach for the Phils.