Camden Courier-Post - May 23, 1980

Play ball, again


By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor


They'll be walking the line at Veterans Stadium tonight but it won't be the picket line. It'll be the base line, since the baseball strike was avoided early this morning.


Baseball mediators went into extra innings last night, then rallied to save the rest of the 1980 season with a 5 a.m. announcement that the strike had been averted.


That spelled R-E-L-I-E-F in a big way to all concerned with the Phillies, who have been playing some of their best ball of the year recently.


"I'm just happy for the game of baseball," said Phillies Manager Dallas Green. "Selfishly, I'm happy for the 1980 Phillies because of the way we have been playing, but I'm more happy for the game. It could have been disastrous."


The settlement will move the Phils into a pair of crucial series starting tonight in the Vet. The Houston Astros, led by pitcher Nolan Ryan, open a three-game set tonight and the Pittsburgh Pirates begin a four-game visit Memorial Day.


Greg Luzinski, who has been swinging a hot bat of late with seven hits in his last nine times at bat, can't wait.


"Personally, I'm really happy and glad it's settled," he admitted. "It's the best thing that has happened for our team because we just started to put things together. We should all have a clear mind now.


"Our number one concern at this point is playing baseball," said the Phils' left fielder, who currently leads the National League in homers with 11.


Catcher Bob Boone, the Phillies team representative, agreed. "I'm relieved and I believe most of the players are, too. I'm confident it's a good settlement for the players but I'm really pleased we avoided the strike for the good of everybody involved."


So are officials of the Phillies. Missing just the upcoming seven games against the Astros and Pirates could have meant over 300,000 lost admissions to the team. That could have gone a long way toward deciding whether the Phils would have ended the season in the black or in the red.


Of course, there are other reasons for the Phils' brass to be happy over the settlement.


"Obviously, I'm very pleased that baseball will continue," said team owner Ruly Carpenter. "My' main concern, however, was the game itself and what it means to the fans and the so-called little people in the game.


"I'm not totally familiar with every detail (of the settlement) but I have all the confidence in the world in the player relations committee and stand by their position."


 General Manager Paul Owens, one of the few optimistic people during the negotiations, was in the position to say "I told you so" after the settlement was reached.


"I just felt all along it would be settled. Both sides had to realize how important it was to the game. I never felt either side could have afforded to go out. I'm tickled to death we're playing again," said Owens.


It will be a much-relieved group of players that takes the field tonight at 8:05 when Ryan and Steve Carlton square off. They have totaled 5,703 strikeouts between them during their careers.


Looks like there might be a few more strikes tonight.