Philadelphia Inquirer - May 27, 1980

Are Phillies taking up where the Flyers left off?

 

By Frank Dolson, Sports Editor

 

And here, all this time, we thought the hockey season was over.

 

OK, if you want to be technical about it, there wasn't any high-sticking, any slashing, any spearing at the Vet last night. But to make up for the oversight, there was more than enough charging, holding, gouging, mauling and even some butting in the clinches. When Bill Giles advertises the biggest display of fireworks on the East Coast, he means business.

 

Frankly, it was almost impossible to keep track of the fighters, even with a program. The 45,000-plus in attendance kept checking their score cards to make sure they were seeing right. Was that really Kevin Saucier and Bert Blyleven going at each other, or was it Jack Mcllhargey and Clark Gillies? Was that umpire Doug Harvey hanging on to Blyleven's right arm or was it, you should pardon the expression, Leon Stickle? Was this a National League baseball game or a National Hockey League brawl?

 

Those were grown men down there throwing punches, stepping on each other, calling each other names. And those were, at least in some cases, grown spectators heaving things down on the field. There hasn't been so much childish behavior, so much bad language, since Ed Snider pre sented his critique of National Hockey League officials following the final game of the Stanley Cup.

 

To some, what happened last night was worth standing up and cheering about. Phillies general manager Paul Owens thought it was great the way his players stood up to the world champions.

 

"Win or lose, we're not going to be intimidated," he said after this most dramatic of come-from-behind victories. "We've had that happen too many times over the last five years. They'd better know we're ready to play, that we're not going to back down to anyone."

 

Dallas Green seemed equally enthused by the goings-on.

 

"I'm proud of the ball club," he said. "You've got to be proud of your ball club for the simple reason when these situations occur we've got to get together and go. I talked about the character of the ball club all spring, and this is the type character I like to see.

 

"Dammit, we're a baseball team that's going to stick together. They've got 'The Family,' whatever that thing is over there, and that's great. That's a big deal for them. Well, we've got our own family here. We grew up together. We worked hard to change the character of our ball club all spring. I think today showed we're not going to back off. We're not going to be intimidated. We're going to come after anybody that's coming after us. And that's not a challenge. That's not a threat. That's just us."

 

Pat Quinn couldn't have put it more bluntly.

 

The fact is, both teams were lucky last night. There were no broken ;iones, no debilitating injuries. Oh sure, Larry Bowa took a shot in the jaw. And Tim Foli wound up with a cut over his right eye. And Dallas Green, stepped on during the on- again, off -again, on-again brawling, ' rolled up his pants leg to reveal spike wounds. But it could have been worse.

 

Once it was over, once tempers had cooled, Pirates manager Chuck Tanner sat in his office, sipped a beer and said, "Best way I can explain it, it just wasn't fair tonight. I'm not going into any details...."

 

He didn't have to supply details. His meaning seemed clear enough. It was the Pirates' feeling – and the evidence seemed to support it – that the only pitch thrown with the intention of hitting a batter was the one Kevin Saucier fired at Bert Blyleven to set off the sixth-inning commotion.

 

Harvey did his darndest to stop the free-for-all from developing. The white-haired 50-year-old, reacting in a flash, grabbed Blyleven before the Pirate could heave the baseball back at Saucier.

 

"They (the Phillies) were incensed because Schmitty (Mike Schmidt) thought Blyleven was throwing at him," Harvey said. "Well, in my opinion and after 19 years here I think I know the difference between a good brushback pitch and a knockdown – the guy (Blyleven) put it right on the buttons, where it belonged."

 

Under the rules, the umpire must warn a pitcher first. Once the warning is issued, all pitchers on both teams are on notice. Should one of them throw at another hitter, both that pitcher and his manager are automatically ejected.

 

The worst part last night was the behavior of some participants who should have known better.

 

"The fight was over with," Harvey said. "They basically were all pretty calm and suddenly Lee Lacy (of the Pirates) started cursing at somebody. I said, 'Hold it, Lee. You're starting to stir it up again,' and he hollered something else. I said, 'Well, let's put it this way, knock it off or your butt's gone.' He called a guy something and went around me after him, and he was gone (ejected). Then Starrette (Herm Starrette, the Phillies pitching coach) did the same thing. We had it pretty well calmed down and he's standing out there and he's mouthing off..."

 

"The worst part," Larry Bowa said, "is if a (Dave) Parker, a (Willie) Stargell, a (Greg) Luzinski, a Schmidt – one of those guys – gets hurt by accident and they're out for the year. It's a sick situation. I'm not saying we were right or they were right. Both parties were wrong, I think."

 

Very wrong, and very fortunate. It doesn't take much of a memory to recall how Mike Schmidt, in the middle of a red-hot hitting streak, injured himself and ruined his season three years ago during one of these affairs in Pittsburgh.

 

“I've got friends over there," Bowa said. "We went to Japan together – me and Pete (Rose) and Tug (McGraw) and Bull and (Jim) Bibby and (Bill) Madlock and Parker. And Blyleven, he was there, too. We had a great time.

 

"I think the thing that was happening (during last night's brawl) was every time it started breaking up coaches from both sides were screaming. The guys doing all the peacemaking were Stargell and Parker and Schmidt and Bull and Bibby, all the big guys. Parker was pulling guys off with one hand, saying, 'C'mon, let's go.' Then a coach would say something and it would start again, like a snowballing effect. It's best if that stuff's kept on the football field, where you've got the pads and the helmets and the face masks and nobody gets hurt...."

 

 

Or on pro hockey rinks, where such nonsense is considered part of the game.

Phils rally to edge Bucs after brawl

 

Move into 1st on hit by Bowa

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

Kevin Saucier stalked onto the mound to begin the fifth inning last night. And those who knew him buzzed anxiously, the way people buzz when Sugar Ray Leonard steps through the ropes.

 

Saucier could be the only relief pitcher in America to get his record listed in Ring Magazine. The program says he is just a left-handed relief pitcher, but he is also a guy who has set off more fistic activity than the guy who rings the bell at the Felt Forum.

 

The big line in Saucier's scouting report is, "He protects his own." And last night he wandered into a situation with definite protection possibilities.

 

It was in the first inning of the Phillies' dramatic 7-6 win over the Pirates last night (moving them into first place) that the seeds of a Saucier-promoted 10-minute brawl were sown.

 

Bert Blyleven was the Pittsburgh pitcher. Blyleven is a man whose sensational stuff had never been enough to enable him to beat the Phillies (0-6 lifetime). And this year that stuff hadn't enabled Blyleven to beat anybody in eight starts.

 

But in the first inning last night, Blyleven already had a two-run lead, and he looked intent upon ending both those streaks. He also apparently had determined that if he was going to get beat, it wasn't going to be Mike Schmidt or Greg Luzinski who did it.

 

Blyleven walked both of the Back-to-Back Bombers with two outs, buzzing them high and inside with pitches whose purpose was not to let them try for their fifth set of back-to-back homers of the year. There wasn't necessarily any other purpose to them, but Schmidt wasn't so sure of that.

 

When Blyleven fired another pitch near his noggin in the third, Schmidt did not react with his customary super-cool. He took one menacing step toward Blyleven. But home-plate ump Doug Harvey jumped in front of him and got him back in the batter's box. However, Luzinski already had joined him and added a word, just to let Blyleven know the feeling was mutual.

 

"Pitchers don't tend to use the inside part of the plate the way they used to, and I think that has something to do with the way hitters react," said Dallas Green. "Now, hitters think anything close is with purpose."

 

The game was able to resume peacefully after that. But the incident left enough of an impression on the 45,394 in attendance that whenever Blyleven appeared at the plate thereafter, they greeted him the way people used to salute Pete Liske when the Eagles were down, 49-3.

 

Blyleven got through a nonviolent at-bat against Lerrin LaGrow in the fourth. But in the sixth, when he stood in against Saucier with two out and nobody on, you didn't have to be Don King to know that there might be a haymaker or two on the horizon.

 

"If you were going to hit a guy," said pitching coach Herm Starrette, "that would be the time to do it."

 

Saucier plunked Blyleven with the first pitch.  And the next think you knew, there were enough people on the field to play two Super Bowls. Maybe it was the fight and maybe it wasn't, but the game was never the same after that.

 

"I don't like to see fights in baseball," said Pete Rose, "because usually somebody gets hurt. Fortunately, that didn't happen tonight, but I'd hate to see a division lost because somebody got hurt at center court. I don't know if Sauce did what he did on purpose or not. But if he feels he has to protect his hitters, then hats off to him."

 

Though nobody would admit it last night, Phillies hitters often have griped in the past that their pitchers didn't protect them. They respect Saucier for doing that, and even if that didn't necessarily inspire their comeback from a three-run deficit, it didn't hurt their adrenalin, either.

 

They trailed, 6-3, heading into the eighth, but Rose singled off Blyleven, and Luzinski doubled him in with two outs. Grant Jackson squirmed out of the inning, holding it at 64. But on came Kent Tekulve to start the ninth.

 

Schmidt ripped his first pitch, a high sinker, into the left-field corner for a double. Luzinski chopped one over second and beat Tim Foli's throw for a single. Bob Boone then tied it with a high-hopper that caromed over Bill Madlock's head for a double.

 

The Pirates then walked Garry Maddox (three-for-four) intentionally. But Tekulve got behind Bowa, three-and-one, with the crowd roaring, Bowa pacing outside the box, and Tekulve leaning, hands on his knees, thinking silently. Bowa then pulled a fastball past a drawn-in infield, and it was over.

 

Could one brawl have ignited something like this?

 

"Nah," said Bowa. "There's too much talent on these two teams for something like that to decide a game like this. A win like this can help spark you, but it can also help spark the other team. A couple years ago, Pittsburgh was 11 out, and we had one of these things with the Pirates, and then they just came on like gang-busters.

 

"It's great to win a game like this, but hey, we've still got 17 left with them. That's one of the things that's been wrong with our team in the past. We'd overreact to one win."

 

Phils' rookie pitcher Bob Walk had a rough time in his big-league debut. He was touched for five runs in the 2 innings he lasted, walking five and giving up two hits, a home run to Willie Stargell and a bases-loaded single to Ed Ott.

 

Meanwhile, an RBI double by Maddox in the second and a two-run homer by Maddox in the third got the Phils back to 5-3 in time for the fighters to get to their corners.

 

 

NOTES: On TV replays, Luzinski looked out on his infield single in the ninth. Chuck Tanner thought so, too, but didn't argue. "I would have, but I just didn't feel I should, the way the situation was."... The Phillies are now 4-0 since the non-strike.... Steve Carlton, who opposes Jim Bibby tonight, will be working with, three days rest, and that routine seems to suit him. Over the last two years, he's 12-3 going every fourth day.

They were only making peace, brawlers say

 

By Danny Robbins, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

It was a fight that lasted about 10 minutes. It was a fight that stopped for an instant, then started again full force. It was a fight that ended with two ejections, a cut eyelid, a bleeding mouth and some hurt feelings.

 

But, to hear the participants explain it later – well, try to explain it – it was a fight that everyone was busily trying to stop.

 

Perhaps it's always this way when baseball players have a brawl. It's always the next guy.

 

"I was trying to be a peacemaker," said the Pirates' Lee Lacy, who was ejected. "I had my arms around one of my own players."

 

"I was out there with (Pittsburgh pitcher) Jim Bibby, and there's no way in the world I would fight Jim Bibby," said Herm Starrette, the Phillies' pitching coach, who also was ejected. "Bull (Greg Luzinski) said I was pushing him after they broke the thing up. I don't know. I guess (umpire Doug) Harvey had to run somebody else because he'd already run Lacy."

 

There was, however, a clear start to the fight that broke out in the sixth inning last night at the Vet, where the Phillies wound up with a 7-6 victory over Pittsburgh.

 

The groundwork for all this was laid in the third inning when Pittsburgh pitcher Bert ("I've got nothing to say") Blyleven aimed a pitch at Mike Schmidt's neck. Schmidt headed for the mound, but he was quickly caught by Harvey, the plate umpire, and nothing came of it. Both teams left their dugouts, but they never met, except for Bibby's playful kick at the seat of Larry Bowa's pants.

 

The breaking point was the sixth, when Kevin Saucier put his first pitch to Blyleven in Blyleven's lower back. Blyleven scooped up the ball and seemed bent on firing it at Saucier. But Harvey made a nice tackle from behind to stop a throw. He did not stop Blyleven and Saucier from coming together. The battle was on.

 

"It was over until their bullpen came in," claimed Bill Madlock, the Pirates third baseman.

 

But, in truth, everyone was in the original pile near the mound. Saucier landed a few blows before he was restrained by Randy Lerch, and Blyleven managed to toss his helmet, not well, but in the direction of his tormentor.

 

"I was just holding my guy so he wouldn't get kicked out," Steve Nicosia said. "Then I turned around, and all kinds of fights were breaking out."

 

"How the hell do I know what happened? I'm not out there looking around," said Pittsburgh manager Chuck Tanner. "I'm out there trying to do something. He paused and added: "To make peace."

 

Whatever he was making, it didn't work. Tempers cooled for a moment, but then the fight started again, this time in the area around shortstop. What actually started this second wave isn't clear, but Phillies coach Mike Ryan was clearly raging.

 

"Ryan? I don't know what got him going like that," Lacy said. "But the fight should have stopped. What can I say? What is this, 'Face the Nation?'

 

"I saw Ryan stomping in the huddle. I don't know who he was stomping, but he was in that bleeping huddle like a mad man. I don't understand him, man."

 

Ryan said he was angered by profanity directed at him from a group of Pittsburgh players.

 

Whatever, Lacy and Starrette were thrown out of the game – not the two pitchers – when the fight had ended. "He (Harvey) said my man (Lacy) started it up again, something like that," Tanner said. "And then he throws their coach out."

 

"I'll trade Herm Starette for Lee Lacy any time," Dallas Green said later.

 

Bowa came out of it with a cut near his mouth. He wasn't sure how it got there. "The coaches," he said, "they were the ones doing most of the jawing."

 

Meantime, the main Pirates casualty was shortstop Tim Foli, who got a cut over his right eye (still trickling blood when the game was over), the result of somebody, maybe Bob Boone, pushing his wire-rim glasses in the first flareup.

 

"I grabbed Boone," Foli said. "That's what you do in these situations. You look for one guy. You don't just jump in the pile. We were just sitting, waiting really."

 

 

"I do not have a statement to help you sell papers," said Willie Stargell, the head of the Pittsburgh family. "It was Phillies 7, Pirates 6. And 100 years from now, who's gonna care?"

Those, uh, walks can get a rookie pitcher in trouble

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

Being a pitcher named Walk is like being plumber named Flood, like being a bus driver named Crash, like being a golfer named Shank. Not one of the great pitchers' names.

 

Phillies rookie Bob Walk has heard all those jokes a million times. His answer is a 94-m.p.h. fastball that some day will shut up a lot of those comedians.

 

But last night, in his major-league debut, Bob Walk lived up to his name. There were five Walk walks in all (one of them an intentional pass to Wilver D. Stargell). And they were the big reason Walk allowed five runs in the 2-2/3 innings he was around.

 

Walk's first walk (there must be a better way to put that) was worked by Dave Parker in the first. Walk then threw Stargell his best Oklahoma City fastball. Stargell responded with his best World Series MVP home-run. stroke, and it was 2-0.

 

Three more Walk walks helped the Pirates get three more runs in the third. A late throw to third by Walk after Tim Foli's bunt, a throwing error by Bob Boone on a pickoff try and Ed Ott's two-run, bases-loaded single also helped.

 

But if you look beyond the "BB" column in the box score, there was more to Walk than his last name. He threw hard, fanned four and showed good stuff. He was just nervous, so manager Dallas Green wasn't really upset.

 

"I threw him into a pressure situation, so I'm not totally disappointed," Green said. "The situation didn't work out real good for him.

 

"He mishandled the throw on the bunt, but if he gets the throw down he's OK. And the ball Ott hit, he got into a situation where he had to throw it (3-and-2). He didn't hit it that good, but he hit it. If he'd gotten out of that inning, he'd have been all right.

 

"Sure, he gave up five runs, and that looks bad in the stats. But it takes a helluva pitcher to get put in that situation and come out of it looking good. Let's face it, he was over-throwing. He was not staying within himself, like any rookie would do."

 

 

Walk was called up just Sunday to replace the injured Larry Christenson in the Phillies' rotation. He is only 23, has led one minor league in strikeouts.