Camden Courier-Post - May 30, 1980
Things not sunny for Phillies after afternoon defeat
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Perhaps it's best that neither the Phillies nor the Pirates are a fulltime inhabitant of Wrigley Field, where day baseball is tradition, not aberration.
"It didn't seem to have much action, life or enthusiasm," Phillies Manager Dallas Green observed after the Pirates had beaten his club, 5-4, yesterday afternoon. "But I don't know if it was because of a night game after a day game – I mean day game after night or what.."
If Green seemed confused, imagine what it was like for the players, who had almost forgotten what it's like to lose a ball in the sun.
What the Pirates did was generally kick the ball around – it didn't seem to matter whether it was hit in the air or not – until second baseman Phil Garner came up with one inspired play to save a series split for the Bucs in the sixth inning.
BOB BOONE, who doubled home two Phillie runs in the first, opened the sixth with another double off Eddie Solomon, who started only for the second time since coming to Pittsburgh from Atlanta. Larry Bowa followed with a perfectly placed drag bunt that put runners on the corners and brought Manny Trillo to the plate.
"I thought, when Boonie doubled and I beat out that bunt, that we had a shot at breaking it open," Bowa would say later. "But Garner made a super heads-up play."
What Garner did was take a ground ball Trillo drilled at him and throw Boone out at the plate.
Bowa was running on the play, trying to take away the double play, and Boone – even with Garner playing back – broke late for the plate. He was an easy out.
BAKE McBRIDE, who, along with Garry Maddox, was given the day off, appeared as a pinch hitter, grounding into one of three double plays. That ensured Solomon would take a 5-3 lead with him into the seventh.
"Manny hit that ball hard," said Bowa. "But it was right at Garner. A little to the left or right and it would've been a hit. If I didn't run, it would've been a double play. Boonie was thinking he'd make it go through (before breaking for the plate), but he didn't react that way.
"It's a reaction play, a difficult play. You got to credit Garner, though, because I'm sure (third base coach) Lee Elia was telling Boonie to go if the ball was hit on the ground."
That was one of many opportunities the Phillies failed to take advantage of throughout the course of the game. They had gotten three unearned runs in the first when shortstop Dale Berra made the first of three Pirate errors, followed by a fielder's choice grounder by George Vukovich, who started for McBride, and Boone's double.
VUKOVICH, who missed a cutoff man in the first to help the Pirates score three times, failed on another occasion to throw a runner out at the plate, struck out twice and hit into a double play that ended a fifth-inning rally.
Those things happen from time to time, however, and what concerned the Phillies yesterday was not a short-term loss to the Pirates, but what is going to happen to their pitching staff in the long run.
Dick Ruthven, who was not originally scheduled to pitch, volunteered to start with only three days rest. The righthander was victimized in the first on RBI singles by Willie Stargell and Mike Easier, and a bases-loaded walk to Berra.
The Pirates got two more in the fifth when Ed Ott and Berra singled runs home. The Phils' bullpen took it from there, shutting out the Pirates the rest of the way to keep the club close.
"THEY ARE the world champions and I'm one of the three starters we have left," said Ruthven. "If I can pitch with three days rest, I will. That's what I'm paid for."
There's no doubt the Phils' starting rotation is in disarray. Larry Christenson is in the hospital recovering from surgery on his right elbow. Nino Espinosa is in limbo with shoulder miseries. And who knows for sure if Randy Lerch got the losing monkey off his back with Wednesday's 6-3 win?
"Dick has pitched pretty consistently for me," said Green. "Steve (Carlton) has been very consistent. The rest has been patchwork. There's no reason for encouragement from what I've seen (of Espinosa). We're just about at the stage where we have to re-evaluate our programs with Espinosa and (reliever Warren) Brusstar.
"I'll caucus with the medical staff and probably give them one more shot to get it together. They're going to have to learn to pitch with pain or we'll have to think of something else."
That may be the reverse of the old players’ “play me or trade me" demand. Green seems to be saying "let me play you or I'll trade you" to Espinosa and Brusstar. Whatever that something else might turn out to be, for now, all Green can do is give Don Larson and Bob Walk, both of whom were called up from Oklahoma City this week, a start in Chicago – and hope for the best.
PHIL UPS – Crowd of 30,630 populated Veterans Stadium for the game... Pirates went back into first place with the win... Phils were to open three-game series la Chicago today with Larson facing Rick Reuschel... Carlton is scheduled to pitch tomorrow against Lyn McGlothen, Walk Sunday against Dennis Lamp.
Essence of the game lives during the day
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – There is nothing under the sun like baseball. It's a shame they play so much of it at night.
Not that the players of today would agree. They've become accustomed to the cooling breezes of the nocturnal life, and the perfection of well-lighted stadiums, where there are no creeping shadows and glaring backgrounds to haunt their vision.
In Chicago, where the tradition of presenting the national pasttime under God's blue skies is still observed, the athletes are forced to endure the city's daily traffic jams as they travel to and from the ballpark.
And, it's said, that the annual fading of the Cubs' hope for a pennant is related directly to the energy drained away by the ball of fire that sits in the endless summer sky above Wrigley Field.
The "bleacher bums" who inhabit that town, however, would not trade a half-eaten hotdog for a rooftop filled with fluorescent beacons to turn the night into day. They know they just might be the luckiest sports fans in America.
What brings' all this up, was the 5-4 defeat the Phillies suffered at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday afternoon at Veterans Stadium. It was billed as a "Business Persons Special" because it was played at mid-day during the week. And, it was special.
So much so, that 30,630 fans showed up, almost half of them purchasing their tickets at the gate, to swell the crowd beyond the previous night's total. Maybe it's instinct.
Maybe people sense that, on a day such as this, they have the opportunity to recapture the essence of a game that was born on a field of grass, a visit to a time when a "ballpark" was just that – a park in the middle of cement city – where people could seek refuge from a world of asphalt, glass and plastic.
Last season, over 46,000 Phillies fans flocked to Veterans Stadium on a warm, August afternoon to sit in the sunshine and watch a game against the Montreal Expos. And they didn't even have the added pleasure of smelling the aroma of newly mowed grass, or watching the trees beyond the ivy-covered outfield walls rustle in the breeze, a bonus that may someday make Wrigley Field baseball's answer to Churchill Downs.
Of course, there are many good things to be said for the modern stadiums with their cleanliness, convenience and functional design. Comparing the Vet with Connie Mack Stadium, for example, is like parking a Rolls Royce next to a pushcart.
The Vet came with everything, but push-button windows. Basically, it's a baseball theatre, complete with a synthetic playing surface that won't surrender so quickly to the weather. The show must go on! And this place is a show in itself, a perfect setting for electronic marvels that inform and entertain.
Yet, sometimes you wonder why baseball had to rush so enthusiastically into the new century. Or, perhaps, television just pushed so hard. Either way, daytime baseball during the week has been reduced to a "novelty" on the order of Bat Day.
The Phillies have debated the pros and cons of the situation during the past 15 years. And the same old problems remain. Teams run into scheduling difficulties. Many usherettes, ticket takers, guards and other stadium personnel have regular jobs during the day and can't get off work. Traffic congestion, such as the jam that occurred yesterday, are a genuine possibility when a game ends at the same time workers are heading home. So it goes.
"It's also hard for the players to see during the day," said Phils outfielder Greg Gross, who played at Wrigley Field before coming to Philly. "Because of the glare and difficult background it's easier to make a mistake. In the old ballparks, an outfielder could pick up the ball as it rose above the roof.
"Today, with all those rows and rows of fans in white shirts rising up so high, you have to wait and pray you'll pick up the ball."
Still, you have to stop and think. Where did all those people come from on a day when most of the area's youngsters were still in school?
Perhaps this is all just a stroll down memory lane, a wishful thought that somewhere in the future, baseball will look for something new to increase fan interest and hit upon a most wondrous idea – present baseball the way it used to be played. It would be a natural.