Reading Eagle - October 12, 1980
’80 Phillies Establish Their Niche in History
By Tony Zonca
“Ah, Philadelphia,” said W.C. Fields, who began his career there. “If a woman dropped her glove, she might be hauled before a judge for stripteasing.”
When the Phillies won their first home playoff game in 65 years the other night against Houston, the Philadelphia faithful had to be looking for omens.
Their team had finally gotten off the schneid. It was time to brush aside the Houston no-names and take on those other guys in pinstripes.
But, noooo, fans. You forget. These are the Phillies.
Late Wednesday night, after 10 innings in which the Phils contributed three errors, missed cutoff men, gaffed on the bases and generally played as though it were March instead of October, the Astros could have flown back to the Dome without an airplane.
Our heroes blew it in the 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th innings. Twice they left the bases loaded; twice they left men on first and second. In that one, clutch was something in a car with standard shift.
There were more wasted scoring opportunities Friday, in that 1-0 loss in 11 innings. Three times in the first four innings, runners were stranded – this time a total of 11 for the game.
The Phils should have been popping corks and preparing to meet Kansas City, competing in a World Series for the first time in 30 years.
But, nooo, fans. Remember, these are the Phillies.
In 1959, under Manager Eddie Sawyer, the Whiz Kids had by then long become the Whiff Kids, finishing last. The Phils lost the first game of 1960 and Sawyer quite, saying, “I’m 49 years old, and I’d like to live to be 50.”
This is a snake-bitten franchise. Years ago, one of the Carpenters must have ordered a woman burned at the stake unjustly. “You will pay for this,” she might have shrieked, flames licking all around her. “Your baseball teams will suffer frustration, heartbreak and misfortune.”
Consider – Danny Ozark forgetting to replace Greg Luzinski in left with a lead in the 9th in the ’77 playoffs; the Bull missing that fly ball against the wall; Vic Davalillo beating out a bunt; the final rain-drenched loss; Garry Maddox dropping the line drive to lose it in ’78.
Moment to Futility
Of course, the tattered history goes beyond that – the 23-game losing streak in ’61 still stands as a monument to futility.
It stands in the franchise’s Hall of Shame next to the pennant gaffe of ’64, when a 6½-game lead was blown with 12 games to play.
You could look up the ’76 playoffs. The Phils had leads in all three games, but were blown out by the Reds.
The next year, the Phillies finally won a post-season game for the first time in 62 years, the opener at L.A., and you know the rest.
This troubled franchise has gone through the Whiz Kid era, to Rich Allen, By Saam, the move to the Vet, the Hot Pants Patrol, Kite Man, the Great Wallenda, the Phillies Phanatic and, finally, the last couple of years’ Boys of Simmer.
Philadelphia is a workingman’s town, where all the fans expect from an athlete is a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. That’s why, in a city known for its cynicism towards its sports teams, you never hear anybody boo Pete Rose.
Nobody complains that old belly-flopping Pete is overpaid.
Fred Allen once remarked on his radio show that he had a friend who took a sleeping pill every morning so people would think he was from Philadelphia.
Remember that night in 1972, when the Phils had been buried in losses totaling 18 in 19 games. Management came up with a Turn It Around Night.
Stadium employees wore ID badges on their back, the lineup was announced in reversed order, the scoreboard began with the ninth inning and worked back to the first, TV showed players running backward, and before the game started, the organist played Goodnight Sweetheart.
The Phils lost 4-3. They finished in last place.
The Sixers and Eagles have felt much of the same frustrations over the years, but that’s another story.
It has been written many times that Philadelphia’s long-suffering fans would boo Santa Claus and kick in a stained-glass window.
The negativism of Philadelphia is compounded by a long record of baffling defeats, mixed with a dash of stoic pride, unfulfilled promise and an enduring patience that must be wearing thin.
But what do you expect from a city best known for its scrapple, and which has a brand of cream cheese named after it?
Said that well-known satirist Sonny Liston: “I’d rather be a lamppost in Denver than mayor of Philadelphia.”
Angry Bull Silent After Big Hit
HOUSTON (AP) – Greg Luzinski, whose 10th-inning run-scoring double triggered the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros in the fourth game of the National League playoffs, didn’t want to talk about his big monment.
"1 don't want to talk," said Luzinski, apparently angry over not being in the starting lineup as the Phillies twice battled from behind to even the series at two games apiece.
Luzinski was talking to an old friend in a room just off the Phillies' dressing quarters after the game.
He looked up as a reporter approached arid said: "I hit a double. Pete (Rose) scored on a heck of a play. We won. That's all I have to say."
And he turned back to his personal conversation.
He was an angry "Bull," his nickname ever since the huge outfielder came to the National League.
Rose, who scored on Luzinski's shot that bounced into the wall at the 340- foot sign, explained the play at the plate in which he bowled over catcher Bruce Bochy,
"The catcher was blocking the plate," said Rose. "He was concentrating because it was a tough throw to handle. It short-hopped him.
The Phillies had been accused many times in the media of being a team of no heart and no character, just a lot of lazy talent.
Shortstop Larry Bowa tried to lay that image to rest.
"If this game doesn't convince people, then something's wrong with them," said Bowa. "We got heart, we got character, we want to win. I don't want anyone to ever tell me we don't want to win."
Phillies Manager Dallas Green said he hoped that no one turned the television set off too early.
Green was asked if he talked to Luzinski before posting the lineup that showed the outfielder was going to sit out most of this one.
"I just posted the lineup." said Green. “It was a move I felt necessary because we weren’t generating any runs.
“They started a right-handed pitcher (Vern Ruhle) and that negated Luzinski’s power, especially in this ballpark (the Astrodome). So I went with Lonnie (Smith).”
Smith came through with a pair of hits and scored one of the three runs in the Philadelphia eighth. But that obviously didn’t pacify the “Bull,” who was glad the Phillies won but was mad that he had to wait until the 10th inning to play a part in the winning.
It Was Nightmarish, but Phillies Dream On
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
HOUSTON – And you thought you’d seen everything last Saturday night! It isn’t only on Fantasy Island that strange things happen and dreams come true on Saturdays.
“This was the most controversial, exciting, dramatic game I’ve ever witnessed,” said Tug McGraw, after saving Saturday’s 5-3, 10-inning conquest of the Astros for the Phillies.
It couldn’t have been stranger if Tattoo had come up to pinch hit with the bases loaded in order to draw a walk. Even Roarke would have lost his cool well before this one ended.
“I THINK I’m lucky I don’t have to write this one,” said Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News, perhaps the world’s best regular baseball writer, who had no Sunday edition.
Why in just double plays alone, this game broke all records for wackiness. The DPs don’t tell the story about the 10th inning, but they tell plenty about the first nine.
This game saw the longest, the rarest, the most productive and one of the most disappointing double plays in baseball playoff history.
EACH TEAM pulled two of the four, but the Phillies came out a bit ahead, just as they did in the game.
The first one took almost 20 minutes, and should have been either a one-out play or a triple play, before the umps and Chub Feeney settled on a “not guilty but pay the costs” ruling.
Garry Maddox’s poke back to the pitcher, with two one and none out in the fourth, was ruled no catch by plate ump Doug Harvey and a good catch by the first and third umps.
WITH NO CATCH, the Phils had runners on third and second after Vern Ruhle threw to first. With a catch, the Astros had a triple play.
After a six-umpire conference and a chat with Chub, Harvey (who felt he had been screened), ruled a double play, figuring McBride on second had been misled by him. Both managers protested.
“It was clearly a trip,” said Dallas Green. “If he’d caught it, Ruhle would have thrown to second to double off the lead runner.” The TV replay, though not conclusive, seemed to indicate a trap.
FINALLY, LARRY Bowa grounded out to end the inning. The big result was that Steve Carlton was not the same pitcher after as before the delay.
“It took away from Lefty a lot,” said Green. “He doesn’t like delays.”
The rare DP came in the sixth. Luis Pujols had apparently hit a sacrifice fly to right which had scored newcomer Gary Woods with the run that made it 3-0.
BUT WOODS was called out on appeal for leaving third base too soon.
“I can’t remember when I last saw that,” said coach Bobby Wine, who had yelled for the appeal right away. “He was off a step, step and a half,” said Wine. “I guess I’ve seen it, but I can’t remember when. It was a gutsy call on the umpires’ part.”
“I can’t remember when I ever saw that,” said Pete Rose, who’s seen a lot of things on the diamond.
Without that, the Astros would have had enough to win in nine.
THE PRODUCTIVE DP came in the eighth, when Manny Trillo lined to right and Mike Schmidt was doubled off while standing on second. But Rose had tagged and scored from third before the out on Schmidt, carrying the run which put the Phils up, 3-2.
The TV replay clearly showed that Bruce Froemming (who could have been stationed deeper) blew the call; Jeff Leonard definitely trapped it.
“I didn’t know the rule,” Schmidt admitted. “I didn’t think the run would count.”
NEITHER DID a lot of people. But any run counts if it comes before the third out unless the third out is (a) on the batter-runner before he gets to first, (b) a force out, or (c) on a preceding runner on appeal. None of these apply. Whether it’s part of a double play has nothing to do with it.
“And I was so happy when I first got to second,” Schmidt recalled.
The final double play shut off the Astros. They’d tied the score with one out in the ninth, and winning run Terry Puhl was going to second on the hit-and-run. But he was easily doubled when Bake McBride hauled in Enos Cabell’s liner.
LOSING THE winning run that way is very disappointing, though no more disappointing than losing the tying run the way the Yankees did in the eighth Friday.
“I haven’t seen that many strange things happen in one game,” said the Astros’ Bill Virdon.
“I can’t eat, sleep or talk after that one,” said Larry Bowa, who did break his vow of silence.
“We played over a lot of weird things,” said Green. “We don’t get it done very pretty some times, but we get it done.”
“You could write an entire novel about this one game,” said McGraw. “Let’s see, you could call it ‘The Most Incredible Saturday.’”
Better than what they called the last two Saturday nights when the Phillies needed a win to avoid losing the playoffs.
Luzinski Gives Phils New Life
Pinch Double Forces Game Five Tonight
HOUSTON (UPI) – This is the city which has the medical center where the heart transplant was developed.
The Philadelphia Phillies must have paid a visit.
Chastised for years as being a team without heart because of its series of failures in post-season competition, the Phillies battled back from incredible adversity Saturday to defeat the Houston Astros 5-3 in 10 innings and set up a showdown game tonight (8 p.m.) for the National League pennant.
In a game that featured more controversies than a summer softball game in the park, the Phillies rallied to win in the 10th on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by pinch-hitter Greg Luzinski and Manny Trillo and overcame a controversial double play call that went against them in the fourth and deprived them of a potential big inning.
“You would believe the team had no character if you turned the TV off early,” said Phillies manager Dallas Green. “It’s one of those frustrating games when we struggled early and didn’t score runs. But we battled back. If anybody questioned the lack of character, I think the outcome proved differently.”
The Phillies, seeking their first pennant since 1950, will send rookie Marty Bystrom to the mound in the final game of the best-of-five series tonight while the Astros, looking for their first pennant in the 19-year history of the franchise, will counter with Nolan Ryan.
Saturday’s game had a little bit of everything – if you like weird happenings. Besides the controversial play in the fourth inning, the Astros had a potential run disallowed because the runner left too early and the Phillies got one run because the Astros threw home first instead of to first base to complete a double play in the eighth.
“My appraisal is that it was indeed a strange game,” said Astros manager Bill Virdon. “But I’ve seen them before. That’s baseball.”
There was nothing strange, however, about the two runs the Phillies got in the 10th inning. That was just good old fashioned, hard-nosed baseball, with pugnacious Pete Rose leading the way.
It was Rose who started the 10th-inning fireworks with a one-out single off losing reliever Joe Sambito and after Mike Schmidt flied out, Luzinski, who had been angry at being left out of the starting lineup, doubled into the left-field corner as a pinch-hitter for Bake McBride.
Rose, running on the hit, was waved home by third base coach Lee Elia but it appeared he would be thrown out as the relay throw had him beaten. But catcher Bruce Bochy, a late-inning replacement for injured Luis Pujols, had troube, fielding the short-hop relay throw from Rafael Landestoy and juggled the ball as Rose crashed into him with the tie-breaking run. Trillo then doubled to left center for an insurance run and Tug McGraw protected the lead by retiring the Astros in order in the 10th.
“That was a perfect example of the beneficial play for the runner,” said Rose. “Bochy was blocking the plate without the ball and there was no room for me to slide and when I saw him juggle it, I just went in straight up. It was a difficult play for Bochy. Johnny Bench (a former teammate) would have had trouble with that play.”
Rose gave Elia a major share of the credit for the run that put the Phillies ahead. Elia had received much criticism in the Phillies’ second-game loss to Houston when he failed to send McBride home in the eighth inning on a bloop single to right.
“I give a lot of credit to our third base coach. He saw the relays were coming up short and he gave me the green light,” said Rose. “If it wasn’t for him, I would have stopped. He showed plenty of courage in his decision.”
The Astros argued that Rose’s run (in the 8th inning) should not have counted since the double play ended the inning. However, it was not a continuation double play, according to plate umpire Doug Harvey, since Leonard’s throw had first gone home to try to get Rose. If Leonard had thrown to first base right away, the run would not have counted.
That controversy, however, was nothing compared to the one in the fourth which resulted from a controversial double play that took the Phillies out of a potential big inning.
With the two teams scoreless, one of the most controversial moments in post-season playoff history occurred after McBride and Trillo led off the Phillies’ fourth with successive singles and Garry Maddox then hit a soft, broken-bat line drive which Ruhle gloved near his left foot.
Harvey ruled it a trap and Ruhle threw to first base for an out as the runners advanced. However, first base umpire Ed Vargo said Ruhle did catch the ball and therefore it was a double play. As Philadelphia manager Dallas Green and his players raced out to protest the call, Astros first baseman Art Howe to second base as umpire Jerry Crawford signaled an out to complete what Houston claimed was a triple play.
Now all bedlam broke loose.
The Phillies argued vehemently that Harvey’s original decision should stand but third base umpire Bob Engel supported Vargo’s claim that Ruhle did catch the ball.
The umpires then convened with NL President Chub Feeney, who was sitting behind the first base dugout, and they decided to send McBride back to second and allow the double play to stand. Green then protested the game and Virdon also lodged a protest.
McGraw Set Up Morgan
By John W. Smith, Asst. Sports Editor
HOUSTON – If you winced when Tug McGraw threw a third ball to Joe Morgan leading off the last of the 10th Saturday night, you winced in vain. That ball was planned.
The Philadelphia Phillies had gone into the last of the ninth leading Houston. But Warren Brusstar had walked light-hitting Rafael Landestoy to start, and that turned into the tying run.
Now the Phillies were ahead again, and McGraw had come on to face Morgan, who in three trips in this unbelieveable series had doubled, tripled and been robbed of a triple.
SO WHEN Tug Missed with the 2-2 pitch, any hearts left in the Delaware Valley which were still beating regularly (an unlikely assumption) had to flutter a shade.
Would Tug walk Morgan to start, or come in with a pitch Joe could drive?
He did neither. He caught Joe looking at a screwball, and followed with two easy flies to wrap up the vital 5-3 victory.
The 2-2 pitch was a curve. “Booney and I went out to dinner last night,” Tug patiently explained. “We talked about what we should do if I had to pitch to him again. We decided to set him up for the screwball. I hadn’t used it against him all year.
“FIRST I had to get two strikes on him, and I did. I’d been throwing him almost all fastballs and sliders, mostly fastballs. So I threw him a curve on 2-2. We didn’t care if we missed.
“My curve is my fourth best pitch. We figured that throwing it then would totally eliminate the screwball from his mind, since I’d thrown my fourth best pitch ahead of my best.
“Then all I had to do was throw the screwball for a strike. And I did.”
The screwball breaks in to left-handed batters from a left-handed pitcher (the oppositve of the curve), so McGraw seldom throws it to lefties. That’s one big reason why all four grand slams off Tug last year were hit by lefties.
THAT ONE PITCH not hit by a lefty made up for a lot which were.
Green had demonstrated his faith in Brusstar by allowing him to bat with a runner on second and two out in the ninth, and the Phillies up 3-2. After all, he’d thrown a 1-2-3 eighth effortlessly after the Phils had seized the lead.
“If I’d known he was gonna walk Landestoy, I’d have hit for him,” said Green. “That was very frustrating.”
“The biggest mistake you can make,” grumbled Brusstar.
GREEN had hoped to be able to get away without using McGraw, who’d been run into action in six of the Phils’ last seven games. Indeed, Friday McGraw had said he wouldn’t be able to pitch Saturday, though he later changed it to a “maybe.”
“But Tug said he felt fine, and when he says that you’ve got to go to the well with him,” said Green.
Wednesday night, Howard Cosell wondered twice “how many times can you go to the well” when McGraw was called on.
Saturday, the answer was at least one more time.
Dallas needs at most one more time for the Phillies’ first pennant in 30 years.
Walk Struts Into Majors in Fine Style
By Doyle Dietz, Eagle Sportswriter
PHILADELPHIA – What a difference a year makes!
A year ago Bob Walk felt at home relaxing in a pair of jeans, a cowboy shirt and a pair of deck shoes. He usually topped those outfits off with a captain’s hat which held his straight, long black hair in place.
Now Walk relaxes in a pair of European-cut slacks, a tailored sports shirt and leather-sole loafers. And he doesn’t need a captain’s hat to keep his hair in place anymore because now he sports a razor cut.
Walk’s wardrobe isn’t the only thing that’s changed in the past 12 months for the 24-year-old native of Van Nuys, Calif. A year ago Walk made his living pitching in the Eastern League for the Reading Phillies. This summer he was a starting pitcher in the National League, helping the Philadelphia Phillies win the Eastern Division title.
PITCHING FOR the parent club had been Walk’s goal since he signed with Philadelphia after being drafted third in the secondary phase of the 1976 June free agent draft. He didn’t expect his promotion would come as soon as it did.
“You’ve got to understand, there are a lot of guys with good stuff pitching in the minor leagues, but they don’t get a break,” Walk said last week as the Phillies were preparing to play the Houston Astros for the National League pennant. “Physically, there isn’t that much difference between pitching in Triple-A, or even Double-A, and the big leagues.
“But the big difference up here is your mental approach. You just can’t get too high when things are going good, and you can’t get down on yourself if you get beat or have a bad outing.”
When the Phillies needed pitching help this summer, two things impressed them when they looked at Walk. At 6-3 and 185 pounds, they knew he had the physical tools, and his 5-1 record at Oklahoma City told them he knew how to use those tools.
STILL, WALK would have probably been bypassed for promotion if Marty Bystrom hadn’t gotten off to a late start because of an injury in spring training. That injury turned out to be the break Walk needed.
Walk took advantage of his break by winning his first decision and eight of his first nine. He also proved to be something of a stopper, ending a four-game losing streak with a win over the New York Mets June 29 and ending a six-game losing streak with a win over Houston July 16.
Twice during the season he pitched the Phils into a tie for first. On July 11, he beat the Chicago Cubs for his fifth win, and he beat the Cubs again Oct. 2 to set up last weekend’s showdown with the Montreal Expos.
That made Walk an undefeated pitcher for the month of October, albeit 1-0, but still something not many pitchers can say. It also gave him an 11-7 record. That’s quite a recovery for a pitcher who got off to a 1-3 start a year earlier in the Eastern League.
WALK RECOVERED from that start to finish 12-7 for Reading, leading the Eastern League with a 2.24 earned run average and in strikeouts with 135. A conversation with Frank Funk helped turn his season around, but Funk was concerned that Walk was ready to pack it in.
Funk was the pitching coach for Reading, and Walk went to Funk’s motel room in Holyoke, Mass., after lasting only 5-1/3 innings against the Millers.
“I remember the kid was really down and was really frustrated,” Funk said on one of his visits to Municipal Stadium this summer as Philadelphia’s minor league pitching coach. “He was in tears, and I was afraid he was going to quit.”
Walk remembers that day, but said he wasn’t ready to quit baseball. He had been 13-8 the year before for Peninsula in the Class A Carolina League, and he wasn’t about to give up on himself.
“IF THAT had happened to me in my first year, maybe I would have thought about quitting,” Walk said. “But by that time I knew I had some talent, and I was just concerned that I wasn’t doing well.
“My problem was that when the same that it’s always been with me. I have to keep my emotions under control and stay within myself. I’ve always had that problem and probably always will.
“Every year I’ve been able to do a little better job of controlling my emotions, but I think, I took a little step backward when I first came up to the major leagues. But I think I’ve improved in that area, and the main thing is not to let yourself run away with the situation.
“I found the biggest adjustment I had to make was in my mental approach to the game. I think you have to make that adjustment every step up the ladder, and here you just have to put things in the proper perspective.
“IF A guy hits a home run off you to beat you, you have to realize that it’s not the end of the world. You have to put that out of your mind and come back strong the next time. Lefty (Steve Carlton) does that so well, and that’s what makes him such a great pitcher.”
Walk had his trying moments late this season. After getting off to that 8-1 start, he lost six of his next eight decisions before winning his final outing against the Cubs. Twice during the bad streak he was roughed up by the St. Louis Cardinals. Those outings made Walk feel bad, but he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself.
“I was upset because I felt I was letting a lot of people down,” Walk said. “There were times when I had pitched bad early in the season, but the team had gotten me off the hook.
“You’re going to have peaks and valleys during the course of a season, and you just have to try and stay on an even keel. Except for the two times against St. Louis, I felt I had good stuff in six or seven ball games.
“THIS IS an easy game when you’re going good. The night I got knocked out in the second inning against St. Louis is probably the low point of my career, but I couldn’t let it get to me because I knew I gave it a hundred percent.
“It took me a couple hours after that game to get over it, and I was pretty upset. But I told myself that I gave it my best, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t letting anyone down.
“I didn’t win, but I did my best. And as long as you do the best you can, you can’t feel bad about that.”
Learning to lose is something every professional pitcher has to do. The ones who can cope with that are the ones who usually make it to the major leagues and stay there the longest.
“IN DOUBLE-A and Triple-A you might be able to overpower the hitters,” Walk said. “But up there you’re not going to go 30-and-0.
“But you still have to pitch your game. I tried to nit-pick a few times and tried to be too careful. That’s when I got in trouble walking people. Here there are eight batters you have to pitch to, but you can hurt yourself by overthinking.”
As it is, Walk found out there were things to think about in Philadelphia that he didn’t have to think about in Reading or Oklahoma City. One of those things was his hitting, because the Eastern League and the American Association have the designated hitter rule.
“There were times when I’d be sitting there, and someone would say, ‘Hey, you’re hitting next,’” Walk said. “A couple of times I walked up to the plate and realized I had forgotten my bat.
“I’M NOT worried about that. I just want to be a better pitcher, and next year in spring training I’ll be working to cut down on my bases on balls. I think this club is going to be a winner for years to come, and I want to be part of it.”
Last year at this time, Bob Walk’s goal was trying to make it to the Philadelphia Phillies. His talent, and a break, got him there sooner than he expected.
A year later, Walk’s goal is to remain a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. There’s no question that a year has made a big difference in the pitcher’s outlook.