Los Angeles Times - May 5, 1980
Dodgers Freak Out in Philly, Win, 12-10
L.A. Is Out of Order, Blows a 9-0 Lead to Phillies, Then Rallies for Victory With Three Runs in the 9th
By Richard Hoffer, Times Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – This was the kind of game that should have been shipped directly to Cooperstown, assuming there's a wing in the baseball Hall of Fame for major league freak shows. What happened in Veterans Stadium Sunday, in full view of 34,027 bewildered fans, had as much relation to the National Pastime as, say, circus side shows do to high-wire acts. It's all under the same tent, but hardly under the same classification.
Included in the Dodgers' 12-10 victory here – unusual enough considering the Dodgers' recent record in Veterans Stadium (0-8) – were, among other things, a Dodger lineup card that would have made the University of New Mexico dean of admissions green with envy (not only was it inaccurate, it was forged), a 9-0 Dodger lead going into the sixth that was turned into a 9-9 tie within three innings, and enough managerial maneuverings to make Connie Mack proud.
As you might gather from the score, there was some heavy-duty hitting going on, too. Four home runs were numbered among the 28 hits. Defense and pitching were not as much in evidence; there were four errors (including a routine throw to first that wound up in an upper deck), three wild pitches and a passed ball. Also a hit batter.
"It was a weird game," said Dodger busty Baker, who incredibly got two at-bats for the price of one in the first inning and parlayed the second free chance into a three-run homer. "Weirdest I ever been in."
It was, for sure, not baseball as outlined in Connie Mack's definitive tome. Management would be as likely to include a videotape of Sunday's game in their instructional library as the Highway Patrol would be inclined to release "The Streets of San Francisco" to driver-education classes. It was entertainment at its finest, baseball at its worst.
And it all goes back to "the play," which was bizarre enough to obscure a third good start by Dodger Dave Goltz (he got rocked in the sixth for four runs after 23 scoreless innings) and plenty of timely hitting by assorted Dodgers and Phillies. Two home runs by Baker (who had five RBIs for the day) and one each by Phillies Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone were all but forgotten in the wake of "the play."
Here's what happened: Dodger coach Monty Basgall, who makes out the same lineup card every day (and signs Lasorda's name to it just as routinely) had a momentary lapse Sunday. Harking back to the days when Ron Cey batted fifth in the lineup, Basgall installed Cey ahead of Baker in the order. He meant to do no such thing.
"Just a mistake," Lasorda said. "Just force of habit, I guess," added Basgall. "I had it right on the card posted in the dugout, wrong on the one presented to the ump."
It might have been a source of some irony to Cey, who was upset at the beginning of the season when he was moved down a notch in the order without official notice. Finally, he was batting fifth. Only thing, nobody knew.
Well, somebody knew. The Phils' Pete Rose, who is abnormally alert to matters concerning baseball and low humor, glanced over the official lineup card and wryly remarked upon the apparent change to Phils' coach Bobby Wine. "What's the deal?" Rose asked, "Cey gets two infield hits (Friday night) and they move him up?"
So Rose, if nobody else, was prepared when Baker came to the plate in the first inning. "He's batting out of turn," Rose advised first base ump John McSherry. McSherry told Rose there was no violation until Baker had completed his turn at bat.
Baker did, hitting a two-on, one-out grounder that drove Rudy Law home and gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. As Baker settled at first after the fielder's choice, Rose gave him the bad news, pointing out he had hit out of order. "You're crazy," Baker said. Possibly, but Rose was, in any event, correct. A lengthy meeting of the umps (which included a trip to the dressing room for the rule book) produced the following conclusion: The Phils could take the play, or they could count Cey out (for missing his turn), return runners to their respective positions and give Baker another crack as if nothing happened. In other words, the Dodgers would be penalized one out, Cey would be penalized one at-bat and Baker would get a second chance.
The Phils, who had already yielded a run in the form of Steve Garvey's RBI single, chose the latter. They likely wouldn't have if they had known what "a little old lady" in the third-base seats had known. "She said. 'Dustv. I be lieve you're gonna hit a homer,' " Baker recalled. And he did, a three-run job off Phils starter Randy Lerch, high into the left-field seats. "I mean, that's weird," Baker said.
There were other opinions. Basgall thought it was both "ingenious and inspired." "A helluva move, just one helluva move," he said, referring to his lineup cards. Cey didn't think it was all that funny. "I don't think too many people would have laughed about it if it had turned out differently," he said. "It worked out, couldn't have looked better. But if that hadn't happened, there would have been some people upset for sure." Cey, who got a single and double in subsequent tries from the No. 5 spot, may have been wondering how well he would have done had he got a chance to swing a bat in his first official appearance of the game.
For most of the game, the play didn't look like it would be all that significant, in a won-lost way. The Dodgers scored run No. 5 in the third when Derrel Thomas doubled and scored on a wild pitch-catcher's error combination. And they scored four more times in the sixth on a two-run homer by Baker and singles by Steve Yeager and Bill Russell. Also on walks to Goltz and Lopes.
A 9-0 lead looked plenty big the way Goltz was going. After successive shutouts, Goltz appeared on the verge of No. 3. He had given up just three hits going into the sixth. Then his slider disappeared.
So, too, did the ball. Luzinski, who had drilled homers in two previous games against the Dodgers, hit a three run shot over the left-center field wall. Boone sent the next pitch whistling after it. Goltz struggled in the seventh, also, before a succession of relievers was brought in. None were particularly effective, although Joe Beckwith managed to emerge with the win and Jerry Reuss with a save.
But pitching wasn't the name of this game, assuming the game was still baseball. The Dodgers ripped Phils reliever Dickie Noles for three runs in the top of the ninth on successive singles by Thomas, Gary Thomasson and Garvey.
"Imagine, you're relaxed, you're leading 9-0 and all of a sudden you're trailing, 10-9, and you've used everybody on your staff," Lasorda said. Pausing, he asked, "Do I look any older than I did three hours ago?"
No, but maybe Lasorda was still confused. The Dodgers never trailed.
Law got stolen base No. 10 (he's been caught just once) in the first inning, but not painlessly. Boone's throw to second caught him flush on the left cheek. After coming home on Baker's homer, he retired from the game with a headache and nausea... The Dodgers travel to Pittsburgh for two games with the Pirates. After an off day today, Don Sutton (2-0) is scheduled to lead off Tuesday against the Pirates John Candelaria (2-1)... Dodger Vice President Al Campanis returned to Los Angeles Sunday night, the better to make a deal for catcher Joe Ferguson. Ferguson, who comes off the disabled list Thursday, has asked to be traded and with the development of rookie Mike Scioscia, he probably will be. Ferguson has supplied a list of eight teams and at least one of them, according to Campanis, is interested in a deal... The Phils played Sunday's game under protest; not much chance of a successful one, though, according to the rule book... Lasorda may not have sorted Sunday's game out entirely, "But I'll tell you this," he said, "we proved we can win in Philly."