Philadelphia Inquirer - October 13, 1980

Defensive play of Phils in early innings was crucial


By Allen Lewis, Special to The Inquirer


HOUSTON – This was a game and a championship series for the ages. There have been championship series for 12 years now. None matched ' this one, and it may be decades before one ever equals this Phillies pennant victory.


A crowd of 44,802 fans in the Astrodome had written off the Phillies when the Astros scored three times in the seventh inning to take a 5-2 lead and all but wrap up their first National League pennant.


The Phillies, the frustrations of three previous playoff series defeats bubbling over, suddenly erupted for . five runs in the eighth inning. Six more outs were all the visitors needed, and they had their overworked but game relief pitcher on the mound.


Tug McGraw, the "you gotta believe" lefthander, gave it his best but his breaking balls were hanging, and the Astros rallied to tie the score with two runs in the eighth.


But Del Unser, the veteran outfielder who singled across the tying run in the five-run eighth inning, came through again. With one out in the 10th inning, he hit a hard shot down the right-field line for a double.


Manny Trillo, whose two-run triple had snapped the 5-5 deadlock in the big eighth, hit the ball hard but to center field and Terry Puhl hauled it in for the second out. Garry Maddox, who had twice grounded into double plays, came through on the first pitch with a line drive to center that landed in front of Puhl for the game-winning hit.


In the excitement of the finish, two plays that occurred early in the game loomed very large in the aftermath.


The Astros appeared ready to break open the game in the early innings, and it took perfect defense to keep them in check.


After the Phillies took a 2-1 lead off Nolan Ryan in the second inning, Bystrom walked Luis Pujols in the home half with one out, and Craig Reynolds doubled into the right-field corner. Only three perfect plays kept the score from being tied.


Right fielder Bake McBride, who had a rough time against Ryan, raced to his left, jammed on the brakes in the dirt area as he fielded the ball and prevented it from going through to the wall. He turned and fired to Trillo near the right-field line, and the rifle-armed second baseman threw a strike on the fly to the plate. Catcher Bob Boone was waiting. He caught the ball and made a sweeping one-hand tag to nail the sliding Pujols.


In the fifth inning, with the Phillies still trying to survive with their 2-1 edge, the Astros had Cabell on second base with two out when Jose Cruz hit a hard shot to Trillo. The second baseman's throw to first was high and pulled Pete Rose off the bag. By now, Cabell was steaming around third and heading for the plate. The always-alert Rose turned and threw, home perfectly where Boone again made the tag to end the inning.


The Phillies may also have been slightly fortunate when the Astros elected to pitch to Boone with runners on second and third in the second inning.


Trillo had singled to center for the first of his three hits, and Maddox walked. Larry Bowa bounced to the mound and the runners moved up, leaving first base open. Boone was due up, with pitcher Marty Bystrom next.


Because Ryan was having trouble throwing strikes, and because manager Bill Virdon had previously shown his disdain for Boone's batting ability, the Astros elected to pitch to the catcher. He took a called strike, then lined a single to center field that scored Trillo and Maddox with ease.


But it was as if Dallas Green, Bystrom and the Phillies were trying to defuse a bomb. Each inning, it seemed that the Astros would erupt, and yet time and again they were turned back. Until Greg Luzinski overran Denny Walling's line drive to left field in the sixth.


That two-base miscue and a one-out single to center by pinch-hitter Alan Ashby tied the score and finished Bystrom.


But, instead of serving to make him the goat of this series, Luzinski's two-base error only served to set up the heart-stopping finish to a series that included four extra-inning games and ended 30 years of frustration for the Phillies and their fans.

For American League, It's All Over But The Clouting


By Dick Young


NEW YORK- Anybody who has been watching the National League play ball lately has to pick the American League to win the World Series. I can't remember having seen such shabby stuff pass for big league baseball. Maybe it will change overnight. Maybe the Nationals will say to themselves, hey, fellows this is the big time we're in. They had better, or the Kansas City Royals will blow them out.


I picked the American League to win the World Series long before I knew who'd be playing. I simply think they're playing a better brand of ball. I don't know why that should be. For most of my lifetime, it was the National League that executed well, beat you with basics, with style. The American League, when they beat you, did it with muscle. The home run. They'd make mistakes, and then make you forget it with a shot into the seats. The Nationals would hit-and-run, steal, work a pickoff, turn a double play; heady stuff.


Suddenly, the roles would seem reversed. The Royals played top-notch ball in blowing away the Yankees. They looked like a textbook team. The NL playoffs looked like a Punch and Judy show. I expected that any minute the kids from Taiwan would trot out. It looked like the games were being played in Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series.


It started weeks ago, down the stretch of the regular season. I saw the Phils, Pirates and Expos battling each other for the privilege of not making the playoffs. The Expos and Pirates won, so Philly got stuck with the job.


The National League playoffs haven't been any improvement. Including the umpiring. It only goes to prove that the umpires can go into a slump like anybody else. This was an elite crew of umps, the cream of the staff, assembled from other groups for the big playoff set. They turned out to be a debating society. I'm not going to second guess Doug Harvey on the triple-play call that turned out to be a double-play compromise. I guess I watched the replay 10 times, backwards and forward, from different angles, just as you probably did, and I wouldn't bet my house on whether Garry Maddox' Little League pop to the mound was caught or trapped by pitcher Vern Ruhle. The only thing proven by the TV tapes is that Pete Rozelle is right when he says technology has not yet come up with anything that convinces him replays should be used to settle disputes in NFL games.


There was a play later on, however, which was called an out by Bruce Froemming, and was pretty clearly a trapped ball. Bruce Froemming is one of the strong umps of the NL. He hustled down the line to be in position for the call in right, and he hustled too much. He called it on the run. He should have come to a last-step stop and set himself to make the call. A man's vision blurs when he tries to focus on the run.


That's in the past. Now we look ahead to the big show.



There is a certain freshness to this World Series. The last time Kansas City was in this position it was in the American Association.


I suppose it would be considered cutesy to say it still is, coming from the AL West as the Royals do. The AL West is considered by most baseball men to be the weakest of the big league divisions. Maybe that's so, but keep in mind that the Royals dominated the AL Eastern teams in head-to-head play, On the final day, the Royals were 14 ahead, and breezing. They were 20 ahead on Aug. 31, with 31 games to play, when somebody said, what are we killing ourselves for? Jim Frey, riding them like Willie Shoemaker, eased up, then got his entry back in stride during the final week, just in time to have them sharp for the Yankees. You have to be a good team, in any division, to be 20 ahead with 31 to go, and you have to be a good team to take the Yankees three straight. Anybody who watched that playoff knows he was seeing a fine ball club.


In an obtuse way, a ghost of the Yankees goes into the World Series. Charley Lau, the Yanks' batting coach, shaped the hitting habits of George Brett and Hal McRae, two top offensive weapons in the Royals' attack. Both men gladly admit it.


"I can remember when it was," says George Brett. "I was hitting .200 at the All-Star break in '74. Charley came over to me and said, 'You can laugh all the way to the bank, just getting hits to left field.'"


When a man puts it that way, says George Brett, you have to listen. "Charley said he saw things in my hitting that he could change to make me improve.


"I was holding my bat the way Yastrzemski did, cocked, which I couldn't handle. I was trying to pull everything. I was up on the plate with an open stance. He moved me off the plate, closed up my stance, and told me to concentrate on hitting the ball from second base to the left field line."


Since then, Brett explains, he has grown stronger and pulls for the seats when he gets the right pitch at the right time. "I'm a situation hitter now," he says.


Says Hal McRae: "Charley Lau is the best batting coach in the business. There is nobody close to him as far as teaching ability is concerned."


Most hitting instructors, according to the KC designated hitter, tell you to watch the ball and be aggressive, the way a doctor will tell you to take two aspirin and go to bed.


"Shoot, I heard that stuff when I was a kid," says McRae. "Old men talking across a checker board talk like that. Use your hands, they tell you. They don't tell you when to use your hands."


Charley Lau, batting coach, left the Royals in '78 to join the Yankees. During the playoffs, Charley Lau was careful not to say more than hello to George Brett and Hal McRae. The reason is obvious, but Hal McRae said it anyway at Sunday's practice: "We're reluctant to talk to him in front of people during the regular season or the playoffs, because if we're seen, right away they're going to think we're talking about hitting, and I don't want the owners to get mad."


"He'll talk to us now," said George Brett.

For Astros, there’s still ‘next year’


By the Associated Press


HOUSTON – The man who had appeared to be carrying the Astros at times this season walked through a quiet Houston dressing room last night and said time after time:


"Hold your heads up. You've got nothing to be ashamed of."


Joe Morgan, veteran of many pressure-packed Octobers at Cincinnati, had told the Astros a lot about how to win during their surprising season. Now he was trying to teach this young team how to take a big loss.


The Astros had been beaten by the Phillies, 8-7 in 10 innings, in the fifth game of the National League playoffs. And while most of the younger players found that hard to swallow, others saw this series as a beginning in Houston.


"I think this club can be in the World Series in two or three years," said principal owner John McMullen.


While most of the Houston players sat facing the wall and seldom taking the time to even answer questions, Morgan, the second baseman and sparkplug who had come to Houston from the Reds only this year, said repeatedly:


"There is another year, and we've played some great baseball."


Joe Niekro, who had earlier chalked up one of the Astros' two victories in this series, said: "We scored a lot of runs, but we just couldn't hold them."


Terry Puhl, who had four hits in six at-bats for Houston in a record-setting performance, said of the Phillies:


"They did their job. I think that Kansas City (whom the Phillies face in the World Series starting Tuesday night) has more team speed (than the Phillies), but you can bet we'll all be pulling for the National League team."


Houston manager Bill Virdon said of his players, "I feel for them. They worked hard and they really wanted to win, but obviously they lost to a better team. That shows just how strong this league is.


"But the Astros don't have to bow their heads. They are a better club than a lot of people gave them credit for – I have to tip my hat to them."


McMullen says he has never doubted his team will make it to the World Series – he still doesn't.


It was in 1979 that McMullen made the $19 million deal for the team. The New York industrialist insists his team still is right on schedule for the pennant.


"There's always a possibility of failure, but people generally give you the benefit of the doubt if you prove you're sincerely trying," he said.


McMullen, limited partner Dave LaFevre and a small group of Houston investors set out to build a championship team and plunged into the free agent market for Morgan and pitching ace Nolan Ryan. What they built is a team that clawed, scratched and fought its way to the Western Division title. And says it isn't through yet.


"There is no time for regret," McMullen said.

In the Series!


Phils just refuse to lose


No author given


After scrapping, struggling and fighting as hard as a baseball team can, the Phillies last night grabbed the right, by an 8-7 score, to play in their first World Series since 1950.


It was indeed a wild game, but after three extra-inning games that featured a triple play that the umpires turned into a double play, a three-foot relay throw, among other things, why should we have expected yesterday’s fifth and final game of the National League Championship Series to be any different?


In the bottom of the seventh last night, with the score tied 2-2, the Astros put together three runs- one of them scoring on a wild pitch by reliever Larry Christenson.


So Phils fans watched their team come to bat in the eighth with that familiar feeling of resignation that seems to come about this time of year, every year.


But wait, a glimmer of hope. Larry Bowa led off with a single off fireballer Nolan Ryan. An infield single by Bob Boone and a bunt single by Greg Gross loaded the bases. Pete Rose drew a walk, scoring a run, and the race was on. The Phils scored 4 more to hand Tug McGraw a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Only six more outs to that long-sought World Series.


But McGraw didn’t have it, and this game became like all the others- wild and woolly. The Astros scored 2 more to tie the game one more time going into the ninth.


No score through the ninth. Then, in the tenth, Garry Maddox drove in Del Unser, the Phils led, and the Astros came up empty.


Nobody who has ever suffered with the Phillies thought it would be easy.

KC Fans Channel Ire To ABC Offices


Associated Press


KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Kansas City Royals may have swept the American League pennant from the New York Yankees in three straight games, but the national television coverage of the playoffs has left hometown fans steaming.


A front-page story on the controversy yesterday in the Kansas City Star suggested that many Royals fans believe ABC, the playoffs' television network this year, stands for "Always Biased Coverage."


And a local radio station has been airing a strongly worded, critical open letter to Roone Arledge, president of the network's news and sports departments. The station also has been broadcasting the telephone number of ABC's New York corporate headquarters.


The source of all the vitriol is the coverage of the third and final game of the best-of-five championship series by three men: sportscaster Al Michaels, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer and Oakland A's manager Billy Martin.


"It stunk," said one fan, Kevin Leslie. "If they were going to make it so one-sided, with Billy Martin (a former Yankee manager) in there, they should have had Whitey Herzog (former Royals manager, now with St. Louis) in there. The pregame show didn't even mention the Royals. It was all the Yankees."


Not only was the general tone of the coverage tilted in favor of New York, fans charged, but George Brett's home run that won the third game was greeted by speechlessness in the broadcast booth.


A newspaper TV critic noted that the trio of broadcasters had been touting the 97-mile-an-hour fastball of Yankees relief pitcher Goose Gossage. When Brett sent one of those pitches into the right field stands for the winning hit, Palmer commented: "I'll bet that wasn't a 97-mile-an-hour pitch." Moments later, a check of the radar used to clock pitches showed the throw has been 98 mph.


Although their voices registered no excitement on Brett's home run, there was plenty of it when the Yankees loaded the bases in the eighth inning with nobody out, the critic noted. When the Royals got out of the inning unscathed, there was little comment on the team's defensive coup.


A switchboard operator at ABC headquarters said she had fielded plenty of calls Saturday from irate Midwesterners. "I've been hearing about it since 7 a.m.," she said. "They have been letting us know all about it, in no uncertain terms."


Chuck Howard, ABC vice president for sports program productions, said Royals fans were overreacting.


"It's not a chip on their shoulder. It's a giant redwood. The majority of the people I've talked to in New York thought they were pro-Kansas City."

Leonard gets Royal nod…


By the Associated Press


NEW YORK – Righthander Dennis Leonard will be Kansas City's starting pitcher in Game 1 of the World Series, Kansas City manager Jim Frey indicated yesterday.


Interviewed yesterday afternoon, Frey said he was waiting to see who would win last night's game before deciding whether to start Leonard or lefthander Larry Gura in tomorrow night's opener.


In starting Leonard, "my impression of Philadelphia is that their strength is righthanded with Luzinski, Schmidt, Trillo and Boone," Frey explained.


Frey indicated that he would go with Gura in Game 2 Wednesday, and with righthander Rich Gale in Game 3 Friday, when the Series shifts to Kansas City.


The Royals, he said, would depend heavily on scouting reports supplied by Tom Ferrick, Earl Rapp and George Noga, who have been tracking the NL contenders through the final weeks of the regular season and the playoffs.


But the Royals' most important scout may be sitting right on the bench next to Frey. Journeyman outfielder Jose Cardenal has spent the last decade in the National League, including two seasons with the Phillies. Cardenal spent most of this season with the New York Mets before being released and signing with Kansas City in August.


"Jose will certainly sit in on the meetings with the scouts," Frey said. "He saw both clubs (Phillies and Astros) this season so we'll involve him to see his impressions of them."


Frey sent the Royals through a brisk workout at Yankee Stadium yesterday. An improvised hand-lettered sign was posted on the clubhouse door greeting visitors and identifying the occupants as American League champions. "World Series next," it said.


"I feel good about today," said Frey. "We don't have to win today to get to the Series."


Frey said he had watched Saturday night's Phillies-Astros game, and that "I reconfirmed a fear I had a long time ago, watching that game."


What was that?


"That I don't want to be an umpire."


Until this season, Frey was a coach with the Baltimore Orioles, occupying a rather anonymous role under flamboyant Earl Weaver. He will be the only man to participate in both last year's Pittsburgh-Baltimore Series and this year's Series.


"Well, I'm experienced, at least," he said. "How valuable that will be is kind of hard to measure, huh?"

NL champ Phillies coming home today


The National League champion Philadelphia Phillies make their triumphant return home this afternoon, catching a 10:30 a.m. United Airlines charter flight out of Houston that is scheduled to land at Philadelphia International Airport at 1:45 p.m.


World Series tickets go on sale this morning at 9 a.m. at Veterans Stadium for games 1, 2, 6 and 7. There is a limit of eight tickets per customer.

On to the Series


Fans go bonkers in city


By David Zucchino, Mark Bowden and Sara Schwieder, Inquirer Staff Writers


In a mad release of fireworks, shouting and horn honking, all built to a climax by a tense evening of beer and booze and a thrilling game, the baseball fans of Philadelphia ended three decades of frustration by taking to the tumultuous streets last night.


As centerfielder Garry Maddox squeezed the final out of the Phillies' 8-7, pennant-clinching win over the Houston Astros, thousands of people poured onto sidewalks in a massive explosion of catharsis. They had endured exactly 30 years of a baseball team that did not come close very often and, when it did, always seemed to let a pennant slip away.


But this time, flags and flowers sprouted in and around Veterans Stadium, where diehards had begun assembling as early as 2 p.m. for World Series tickets. Phillies banners and pennants fluttered from windows along Roosevelt Boulevard, rolls of toilet tissue streamed from a phalanx of cars roaring down Ridge Avenue in Roxborough and, predictably, they did the Mummers' strut down South Broad Street.


And in North Philadelphia, two young fans burst through the doors of Piggy's Drive-In, singing the lyrics of what is now Philadelphia's song: "Going to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come."


By early this morning, police were reporting some overexuberance. Celebrants overturned a city bus, without passengers, at Broad and Shunk Streets in South Philadelphia. The driver escaped harm and the youths, who police said tried to rifle the cash box on the bus, fled when police arrived.


Earlier, several hundred overindulgent fans, mostly young men, burned police barricades at Broad and Porter Streets in South Philadelphia. Three police cars and a fire truck were at the scene, and police sat in their cruisers while firefighters doused the blaze. The fans cheered the firefighters.


The uncertainty of the game, which was not decided until just before midnight, kept most of the city indoors and off the streets. As the Phillies streamed out onto the carpeted infield of the Astrodome in Houston, their ecstasy was mirrored by the fans here who bolted outside.


The instant traffic jams prompted a terse advisory from a dispatcher at the Police Administration Building at Eighth and Race Streets:


"Attention all cars. Stand by unless you have an emergency. The Philadelphia Phillies have just defeated the Houston Astros 8-7 to win the National League pennant."


With that, the dispatcher tossed his headset into the air as the radio room erupted around him.


It was a madcap evening, a rush of relief after a 10-inning game that tortured the Phillies, the Astros and, 2,000 miles away, the fans who watched three near-pennants evaporate in 1976, 1977 and 1978. One of them. Eddie O'Malley, 41, the Irish owner of the Ivy Inn in Havertown, let it all out in a thick brogue: "They kept everyone walking on eggs. Eh! Ooooh!"


In the dozens of bars where fans clustered around televisions like ants at a picnic, the bartenders seemed to get the worst of it.


At Smylie's in the Northeast, the end of the game produced a trashing of the green and white Eagles decorations as the bartender was paraded around on the shoulders of a crowd.


"All I want to do is close up," he protested.



The night in microcosm, from a bar in Roxborough:


The cry went up with only two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning last night: "WORLD SERIES! WORLD SERIES! WORLD SERIES!"


And with the third out, the 30 patrons of Murphy's Tavern in the 5800 block of Henry Avenue, Roxborough, really got excited.


"PHILLIES! PHILLIES! PHILLIES! We're going all the way!" the cry went up, as chairs fell and drinkers climbed onto the bar.


It was a scene replayed at bars throughout the city. Beneath the hard-bitten, hard-luck, city-of-losers veneer, the true passion of Philadelphia Phillies fans burst through as it did at Murphy's, where the approximately 30 lifelong fans poured forth their glee.


Long-suffering but nonetheless adoring fans, charged with beer and emotion, groaned through the roller coaster of the late innings in the championship game.


Steve Paugh, 21, never doubted. The Roxborough construction worker confidently assured his friends in the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Phillies fell back by 3 runs, "Don't worry. They're going to score 4. This is the year."


Next to Paugh on a bar stool sat Mark Bass, also 21, of Roxborough.


"I wouldn't be sitting here if I'd given up on them," he said. Bass, at that point staring defeat in the face, said, "I'm going to the World Series this year. We're going to climb over the fence at the Vet just like we do for the Eagles games and see 'em play for free.


"It's possible that they'll lose, but they're not going to do it, they're not going to This year they're hot," he said.


Most of the fans at Murphy's were, of course, gloomy in the seventh inning, when the Astros pulled several runs ahead.


"Ya bums. I tell you, these Astros might as well just start packing their bags for K.C," said Joseph Regan, 54, a longtime Phillies fan from Manayunk. But half an inning later, when the Phillies loaded the bases with no outs, Regan was out in the middle of the bar, grabbing hands with those watching around him, giving the Astros an electronic whammy, bending at the knees and yelling, "Whooah, whooah, whooah," rocking back and forth, urging Mike Schmidt into his home-run mode. Schmidt scowled on the screen at strike two.


"If we win, we're going to have a PARTY!" shouted Joe Archie, 54, of Roxborough, as he was holding hands with Regan and concentrating on their try at a hex.


Schmidt's called third strike hit Murphy's bar like a right to the gut. There was an audible groan.


But when Manny Trillo singled to right field and drove in the tying run, the bar went crazy. Jim Miller, a former Roxborough resident who drove up from Alexandria, Va., to join his old friends and root the Phillies through the series, was dancing to the tune of the juke box, "Kansas City, here I come," as the last out of the game settled into Gary Maddox' mitt in right field.


"I was skeptical when we were down earlier in the game, but it's been that kind of year," Miller said.


"There's no stopping the Phillies this year. You have to believe it. . . ."


Murphy's waitress, Diane Middleton, 24, said in the midst of the wild celebration, "I'm going to call my grandfather in Florida tonight. He's watching it on television, just like I am here."


Fred Christman, a Philadelphia native who says he returned from Ecuador to watch the playoffs and who was offering up to $500 to bar patrons for a ticket to the World Series, said, "I saw the Phillies lose four straight in the 1950 World Series, and I've read about them in South America as they've choked in four of the last five years. They always say the Phillies get lost in the clutch, but this year, no way! What I saw last night and tonight was really fantastic baseball – both come-from-be-hind victories."



Throughout the city last night, There was no closing up early. Even during the game, the bartender at Zintner's Bar in Horsham was demanding his rights as a Phillies fan. With two out in the sixth inning to the roof of a trolley, some excited Phillies fans celebrate at Broad and Snyder Streets and a full count on Schmidt on an oversize television, he told a gaggle of customers seeking refills to go drink somewhere else.


There was plenty of time – and cause – to fill up later. This time, for the celebration that so many had waited for so long, instant parties were forming.


In the middle of Cottman Avenue in the Northeast, a crowd danced around cases of beer piled on the asphalt, freely handing out beer to passing motorists.


Nearby, at Cottman and Oxford Avenues, about 500 people stopped traffic, danced on car tops and set off fireworks.


A few miles south, a throng of Temple University students, most of them white, poured out of their dormitories at Diamond and Broad Streets onto the rapidly filling streets. They stopped cars and shook hands with or hugged and kissed the drivers, many of them black. Some of the passers-by leaped from their cars and joined the growing crowd.


Even at City Hall, where the screeching of brakes and the pounding of horns is not an altogether uncommon sound, the commotion took on a certain grandeur. At least 300 people swarmed into the area immediately after the game's end, joined gradually by swelling numbers as the night wore on.



There was talk of death and rebirth, of endings and beginnings. The 30-year thirst for a pennant had ended; a World Series was about to begin.


Al Pisanelli, 29, an accountant, was dancing in the streets with a throng at Broad and Porter Streets in South Philadelphia.


"If I die tomorrow," he screamed, "I wouldn't care."


Nearby, John Pesce put it all in perspective: "This is the biggest thrill of my life – and I've got three kids."


Everywhere, fans did their celebrating with more than their shouts and cheers. Suddenly, impulsively, homemade signs popped up, most of them crude but all of them signifying unrestrained joy.


"Phillies number one!" they said. And: "Bring on K.C!"


The bedlam had its limits. In one section of West Philadelphia, there was an eerie quiet, despite the significance of the evening's events.


As the echoes of cheers and firecrackers from blocks away faded, a teenager rode his bicycle down Baltimore Avenue, one hand steering the bike and the other held up in salute. He gave a simple, sufficient, cry: "Al-llright!"



Also contributing to these articles were Inquirer staff writers Thomas Ferrick Jr., Jan Schaffer, Mark Wagenveld, Edgar Williams, Burr Van Atta, George Anastasia, Jane Shoemaker, Fred Cusick, Ashley Halsey 3d, Robert Frump, Mary Walton, Rick Nichols and Jane Shoemaker.

Phils rewrite The Philadelphia Story


By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor


(Website Note:  The version of this story cut the bottom line off for several columns.  I tried to reconstruct those lines the  best I could, and where I had to make guesses, I used parentheses and highlights to separate those words.)


HOUSTON – Hemingway would struggle over this one. Shakespeare would grope for words to describe it and give up in despair. Grantland Rice would be in over his head. I don't have a chance.


OK, I'll try. I know it's impossible to capture with mere words the incredible situations, the churning emotions, the heart-pounding drama that was the story of the Phillies' first National League pennant in three decades. But I'll give it my best shot. After the heart, the character, the spirit – call it what you will – that the Phillies displayed last night in the Astrodome, that's the least anybody can do.


Here, after all, was the most important baseball game played by a Phillies team since that Sunday afternoon at old Ebbets Field in 1950 when Richie Ashburn threw out the potential winning run at the plate in the ninth and Dick Sisler hit the ball into the left-field seats in the 10th.


Any kind of a victory for the Phillies in last night's game would have gained a special place in Philadelphia sports lore. But this victory came in a game that should be the new standard by which all postseason baseball games are measured. Yeah, I know, that sixth game of the 75 World Series between the Reds and the Red Sox was fabulous... but the classic we squirmed through, agonized through, throbbed through last night wasn't exactly chopped liver.


It took 20 Phillies players to win this storybook game and to forever put to rest the notion, widely held in Philadelphia before last night, that this Phillies team lacked what it takes to win a championship.


It took 10 innings. It took 3 hours, 38 minutes. It took so much heart, so much character, so much of all the things that Pete Rose was hired to instill in this team as to be almost beyond belief.


Thirty years Philadelphia baseball fans had waited for another Dick Sisler. Now they have a clubhouse full of Dick Sislers, a team overflowing with heroes.


The Sisler of 1980 is named Garry Maddox, who got the two-out, game-winning hit in the 10th.


The Sisler of 1980 is named Del Unser, who stroked the two-out, game-tying hit in the eighth, and the vicious, bad-hop double that led to Maddox' decisive shot to center.


The Sisler of 1980 is named Manny Trillo, who followed Unser's eighth-inning hit with a two-run triple down the left-field line.


The Sisler of 1980 is named Bob Boone, who lined a 99-m.p.h. Nolan Ryan fast ball through the middle for a two-run single that erased an early Houston lead.


And the Robin Roberts of 1980, the pitcher who got the enemy out in the ninth when a run would have been fatal... and then made the lead stand up in the 10th... is named Dick Ruthven.


What an outrageous quirk of fate that was. Ruthven had wanted to start this game. He had gone to manager Dallas Green at dinner following Saturday's 10-inning victory and asked him to reconsider. But Green's mind was made up... and so it was that instead of starting this most important, this most unforgettable of all Phillies games Dick Ruthven finished it.


The guy who said truth is stranger than fiction must have had the 1980 Phillies in mind.


"Are you ready for another one like yesterday?” Jean Luzinski, Greg's wife, said before the game, and from the look on her face it was clear she wasn't at all sure she could stand it.


"I told Greg, 'This is supposed to be fun, but I haven't been so miserable in six months. Will you do me a favor... do us all a favor... please score five runs in the first."


But it couldn't be that easy. After all this team had gone through in the last six months, after that crazy, division-clinching final weekend in Montreal, after what had happened in the last few days and nights, last night's game couldn't be easy.


But did it have to be this hard?


Just when it seemed the Phillies and the Astros had stretched baseball drama to the absolute limit Saturday they topped themselves.


One minute there were the Phillies, leading 2-1, 11 outs away from the World Series... and then suddenly the countdown stopped., The name was tied and then, before that shock had a chance to wear off, the Astros were three runs ahead and there was so much noise that you could feel the Astrodome shaking.


Louder and louder the people yelled, waving their orange hats, (their orange banners and their) flags, chanting, "We're No. 1," doing all the things sports fans do when their team has wrapped up the big one.


Now the Astros were counting down to the moment of jubilation, to the champagne, to their first-ever pennant. Six outs to go and it would be theirs. No way the Phillies could come back now against Nolan Ryan's million-dollar arm. No way in the world.


And yet they found a way.


They needed a break to do it – a grounder back to the box off Boone's bat that could have been a killer of a double play. Instead it bounced off Ryan's glove as he tried to backhand it, and the rally was still alive. But the Phillies still had to make the most of that break. They had to follow it up with a succession of clutch hits... and that's what they did.


Even when Mike Schmidt, their most feared hitter, the man who carried them through the stretch drive against Montreal, took a third strike with the tying run on third and one out, they battled back.


Jean Luzinski had wanted a five-run first. She had to settle for a five-run eighth.


Now it was countdown time for the Phillies again. Six outs to the pennant. Five outs. Four outs…


And then that countdown suddenly stopped, and the game was tied again.


So it went through this most unbelievable of nights, this most wildly implausible of sports events. At the beginning it was Boone, the slump-ridden catcher the fans had all but booed out of the Vet, who delivered the clutch hit. At the end it was Maddox, the man who was benched in the final week of the division race.


All those things couldn't happen, but they did.


Bob Boone couldn't hit Nolan Ryan's fastest fast ball... but he did.


These Phillies supposedly couldn't win the big one...but they did.


It ended barely 10 minutes before midnight, Philadelphia time.


It ended with Enos Cabell, who had been unable to check his swing on a 3-1 pitch that would have been ball four, driving Ruthven 's 3-2 pitch to center field.


Where else could it have gone on this night of redemption but to the man who dropped that line drive in Los Angeles in the final playoff game two years ago?


(Garry Maddox, this season’s) Dick Sisler, held the ball and, even. three hours away by jet, you could hear the gigantic, collective sigh of relief being uttered in Philadelphia, you could feel the happiness, the pride that Philadelphia baseball fans haven't felt since that Sunday afternoon in 1950.


And, even sitting high above the artificial green surface of the Astrodome, you could feel the unrestrained joy of the men wearing Phillies uniforms as Maddox clutched that game-ending fly ball.


If the city of Philadelphia had waited three decades for this moment, the Larry Bowas, the Mike Schmidts, the Greg Luzinskis, the Bob Boones, the Garry Maddoxes had waited a longtime, too.


It was a moment to savor, a moment to rejoice, a moment to do – as general manager Paul Owens did – raise your arms high over your head and throw your arms around somebody.


It was a moment for Pete Rose, who did so much for this team, to leave the mob scene at the mound and run toward the outfield to meet Garry Maddox with outstretched arms. For the better part of two years people (who doubted) the Phillies would ever follow Rose; this time they did follow him, charging after him and starting another mob scene in short rightcenter field.


And then, when the back-slapping and the hugging momentarily stopped, there was Maddox – the man some thought didn't have his heart in playing for this team a couple of weeks ago – being carried toward the infield. And who was helping to carry him? Dallas Green, that's who.


Could any fiction writer have made that finish ring true? Not in a million years.


Imagine. This most tumultuous, most bizarre, most controversial, and ultimately most wonderful of Phillies seasons ended with Dallas Green carrying Garry Maddox off the field and embracing Larry Bowa.


No way anybody could do justice to this with mere words.


Hemmingway couldn't have done it. Shakespeare couldn't have done it. Grantland Rice couldn't have done it. A committee of the world's greatest writers couldn't have done it.


So maybe I shouldn't really feel that hao about not bring able to do it, either.

Phils rule National League!


Astros are beaten in 10th, 8-7


Maddox’ double wins it


By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer


HOUSTON- They can write a new Phillies playoff saga now. It isn't going to read like any of the old ones.


They were three runs down to Nolan Ryan in the eighth inning last night. They hadn't gotten a runner past first since the second inning. Ryan was seemingly at his 99-m.p.h. awesome best.


No National League team ever had won a fifth playoff game on the road. No team in either league ever had won the fourth and fifth playoff games on the road. And this was the Astrodome, where runs are not exactly as cheap as bubblegum.


You don't come back from such dire situations if you have no pulse. But win or lose, this was the Phillies team that would finally beat all the no-heart raps that had been hung on it in the past. It made up those three runs and got two more.


Tug McGraw took a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the eighth and couldn't hold it. But that wasn't folding. That was just weariness. McGraw is only the second pitcher in history to pitch in all five games of a playoff series. He had been in seven games in 10 days.


So they had to do it all over again, for the second straight day. And they did. Del Unser, one of 20 Phillies Dallas Green ran out there last night, bounced a bad-hop double over first baseman Dave Bergman's head in the 10th. There were two out and Unser was on third when Garry Maddox ripped the first pitch to center for the double that won it, 8-7.


Dick Ruthven was supposed to be starting the first game of the World Series tomorrow night. Instead, he was out there pitching in relief for the first time in five years. He threw a 1-2-3 ninth before the rally, and had only to get through one real long inning.


Danny Heep was the first hitter. He lifted a pop-up to short left. Larry Bowa pointed a finger to the sky and pulled it in for one out. The remarkable Terry Puhl (4-for-6 last night, 10-for-19 in the series) lined a shot to deep center, but Maddox was there. Two out.


Enos Cabell, the man who had started the Astros' eighth-inning comeback, was the hitter. Ruthven went 3-and-1 to him and put the next one outside. Cabell started to swing, stopped and took three steps toward first. But first-base ump Gerry Crawford ruled that he had gone around, so it was strike two.


They were one pitch away now. Ruthven came back with one more. Cabell lined it to right-center, but it hung up until Maddox could get there. Bowa was already jumping in the air as Maddox hauled it in.


You couldn't have had a tougher road to the World Series than this team had. Two days in a row, they were six outs away from another winter of pain. But come tomorrow, that Series will begin, and it will be in Philadelphia.


It will be the first time since the Whiz Kids, and to get there, it took all the heart and character this team wasn't supposed to have.


"That team over there (Houston) has as much heart as this one," Mike Schmidt said from the middle of a thunderous celebration. "It's easy to doubt when you've never won it before. Now it's time some of the courage is dealt to us." "Let them say we don't have heart anymore," Greg Luzinski said. "I think we proved to the world that we don't have a quitter on this team."


This was not the wildest game of a wild series. It surely was not the strangest. But it was the best. For 6½ innings it was a tense 2-2 game, with Ryan throwing blanks at the Phillies and a brilliant Phillies defense stopping Astros threats over and over.


Marty Bystrom needed all the help he could get. He allowed a run in the first, but series MVP Manny Trillo saved another run with a dazzling backhand stop on Denny Walling's bullet up the middle.


The Phillies made it 2-1 in the second. The key was Houston manager Bill Virdon deciding to pitch to Bob Boone with runners on second and third, two out and Bystrom the next hitter.


"I don't like to turn over the lineup early in a game any more than I have to," Virdon said. "I'll pitch to Boone in that situation 100 percent of the time."


Boone lined a two-run single to center, but the Phils wouldn't get another runner past first until the eighth.


Trillo saved yet another Astros run in the second. Bystrom walked the fearsome Luis Pujols (.199) with one out. Then Craig Reynolds ripped a 1-0 pitch to right that plopped directly on the line and rattled around the corner.


Anybody but the gimpy Pujols (badly bruised ankle), and the game was tied.


But Trillo fired one from from short right that arrived in Boone's glove at the instant Pujols got there. Boone blocked the plate with his left foot, made a gorgeous sweep tag, and got Pujols on the left hip as he went by.


In the fifth, Pete Rose saved yet another run with a tumbling backhand grab on Joe Morgan. One batter later, when Cabell tried to score from second on a Trillo throwing error, Rose nailed him at the plate.


So Bystrom had gotten through five wild innings. But the one ominous note was that, in the first four games of the series, the team that won wasn't the team that led going into the sixth.


That got to be worth thinking about when Walling started the sixth with a line drive to left-center that ticked off Luzinski's glove for a two-base error. Bystrom battled Art Howe and got him to roll to Schmidt for one out, Walling holding. But Alan Ashby, who hadn't played since Wednesday because of a separated fifth rib, hit for Pujols and tied it with a single to center. Ashby had just five RBIs lefthanded all year.


In the bottom of the seventh, it stopped being an Astrodome kind of game and simply blew apart. First, Houston got three runs in the seventh off that brand new relief pitcher, Larry Christenson.


Walling's RBI single with two on and two out made it 3-2. Ron Reed came on and threw a two-run triple to Howe, and it was 5-2.


But the most stirring of all Phillies comebacks was next. Bowa led off the eighth with a single. Boone bounced what looked like a double-play ball just behind Ryan. Ryan was following through one way, stuck his glove out the other way and couldn't quite handle it. The ball dribbled behind the mound for another single. This, Virdon said later, was the key to the game.


Greg Gross, whose fine playoff series took the sting out of a disappointing season, dumped a beautiful bunt down the third-base line for another hit, and the bases were loaded.


Ryan dueled Rose to a full count, Rose just tipped a fastball to stay alive, and Ryan missed outside to walk him and force in a run. And that was it for him.


Keith Moreland's force-play grounder off Joe Sambito made it 5-4. Schmidt looked at strike three from Ken Forsch. But Unser tied it with a single, and Trillo, who drove in runs twice in the late stages of Saturday's madhouse drama, knocked in two more with his third hit, a triple.


McGraw gave up singles to Reynolds and Puhl in the eighth. He fanned Cabell for the second out, but Rafael Landestoy's single to left made it 7-6. Jose Cruz looped a 2-2 pitch into short center, and it was even again.


But the Phillies had one comeback left. And now they have arrived at two plateaus. The World Series is one, of course. But shoving off the curses and burdens of Phillies seasons past may be their greatest achievement of all.

Phils versus K.C.:  Looks like tossup


Special to The Inquirer


LAS VEGAS, Nev. – It's an even-money World Series.


At least it was last night at the Castaways Hotel and Casino Sports book, minutes after the Phillies defeated the Houston Astros, 8-7, and won the National League pennant.


"It's 11-10 and pick it," said Sonny Reizner, the Castaways handicapper. "I have to think the Royals have a little edge, that the Phillies might be emotionally drained now. But opening the Series in Philly is worth a lot. So it's even. Of course, that could change by morning."


Reizner will not make a price on the first game until the starting pitchers are announced. It the pitchers are Bob Walk for the Phillies and Dennis Leonard for Kansas City, Reizner makes the Royals a 5½-to-6½ first-game favorite.

Phils Will Face Royals' Leonard In Opener


Associated Press


NEW YORK- Righthander Dennis Leonard will be Kansas City's starting pitcher in Game 1 of the World Series, Kansas City manager Jim Frey indicated yesterday.


Interviewed yesterday afternoon, Frey said he was waiting to see who would win last night's game before deciding whether to start Leonard or lefthander Larry Gura in tomorrow night's opener.


In starting Leonard, "my impression of Philadelphia is that their strength is righthanded with Luzinski, Schmidt, Trillo and Bowa," Frey explained.


Frey indicated that he would go with Gura in Game 2 Wednesday, and with righthander Rich Gale in Game 3 Friday, when the Series shifts to Kansas City.


The Royals, he said, would depend heavily on scouting reports supplied by Tom Ferrick, Earl Rupp and George Noga, who have been tracking the NL contenders through the final weeks of the regular season and the playoffs.


But the Royals' most important scout may be sitting right on the bench next to Frey. Journeyman outfielder Jose Cardenal has spent the last decade in the National League, including two seasons with the Phillies. Cardenal spent most of this season with the New York Mets before being released and signing with Kansas City in August.


"Jose will certainly sit in on the meetings with the scouts," Frey said. "He saw both clubs (Phillies and Astros) this season so we'll involve him to see his impressions of them."


Frey sent the Royals through a brisk workout at Yankee Stadium yesterday. An improvised hand-lettered sign was posted on the clubhouse door greeting visitors and identifying the occupants as American League champions. "World Series next," it said.


"I feel good about today," said Frey. "We don't have to win today to get to the Series."


Frey said he had watched Saturday night's Phillies-Astros game, and that "I reconfirmed a fear I had a long time ago, watching that game."


What was that?


"That I don't want to be an umpire."


Until this season, Frey was a coach with the Baltimore Orioles, occupying a rather anonymous role under flamboyant Earl Weaver. He will be the only man to participate in both last year's Pittsburgh-Baltimore Series and this year's Series.


"Well, I'm experienced, at least," he said. "How valuable that will be is kind of hard to measure, huh?"  

The happy end to a long ordeal


Joyous Phils unleash emotion after hard-won clincher


By Larry Eichel, Inquirer Staff Writer


HOUSTON – As he raced up the runway to the clubhouse on The Night the Phillies Won the Pennant, Tug McGraw shouted to Dick Ruthven, the starter who had come on to win in relief:


"Rufus! Who's the bleeping champs?"


There was no need for any answer. The party was on.


"Did I ever think this day would come?" executive vice president Bill Giles asked. "Never! Never!"


Dallas Green hugged Ruben Amaro. Mike Schmidt embraced Garry Maddox, the man who had, two shorts weeks ago, stood at the center of controversy but had emerged to deliver the game-winning hit on The Night the Phillies Won the Pennant.


John Vukovich grabbed Greg Luzinski.


"Bull!" he yelled. "We did it! We did it!" Pete Rose grabbed a bottle of chanv pagne from a vat full of ice and pondered the agony of the last four games, the four unbelievable extra-inning games, the last two of which had seen the Phillies seemingly dead in the water as the eighth inning began.


"You know," he said, with a tone of deepest respect, "I'm not sure the better team won."


The joy was sweetest for those who had contributed most to this surrealistic victory, in which the momentum shifted time after time.


There was Del Unser, the extra outfielder and pinch-hitter, who came off the bench in the eighth to tie the game, 5-5, with a single and who hit the double down the rightfield line in the 10th that eventually led to the winning run.


"We weren't in first place for too long this year," he said, "only at the right time, the end. This is the greatest, the greatest. A few years ago I was a free agent who nobody wanted. But Paul Owens resurrected me. I told him I would be good insurance for him. I guess he knows now that the insurance policy was worth it."


There was Ruthven, still seemingly numbed by the experience, who came on in the ninth, when it seemed the Astros could not possibly be denied, and had retired six men in a row.


"It worked out," he gasped. "It worked out."


And then there was Maddox, who, after grounding into two double plays earlier, had hit a sinking line drive to center in the 10th for the double that won the pennant.


"We never gave up," he said, as he wiped the champagne from his eyes and flashed a grin that Phillies fans have not seen for months. "I don't think I could enjoy it while it was happening. I was so tied up inside. But it feels good now. I'm tickled to death. I don't think the fans would have been happy if we hadn't won. I know we wouldn't be happy."


As he spoke, his teammates were tackling each other, drenching each other with the bubbly and yelling and screaming. They knew that if they had not won this night, they would, as a group and perhaps as individuals, been tagged, fairly or unfairly, as losers the rest of their professional lives.


Manny Trillo, chosen the Most Valuable Player of the series, filled his trophy with champagne and passed it around. And some Phillies paused, as Rose had done before, to says a few words about their fallen opponents.


"All I know is that Terry Puhl is the greatest hitter I've ever seen in my life," Larry Bowa said. He seemed to shudder for a second, recalling this impossible finish. "I know the people in Philadelphia must be going crazy right now. The first three months of this season, I played some of the worst baseball of my life. The last two months have been some of the best, great baseball. I knew that if it didn't happen this year, it just wasn't to be.... When we were down 5-2 in the eighth, and I was leading off, Pete (Rose) says get on, and we'll win this thing."


He paused again.


"Unbelievable," he said.


Someone mentioned all the controversies of recent weeks, the players who were benched and the comments that were made.


"Controversy?" Bowa asked. "What controversy?"


And perhaps it was sweetest of alf for Ruly Carpenter, the owner, who was drenched in champagne and loving every minute.


"I knew that if you get into these playoffs four times, sometimes you've got to win it," he said, not sounding very convincing. "Although... you figure when you're down 5-2 and Nolan Ryan's out there, you've got problems. I'm pleased. Tremendously pleased. What's especially nice is that I've never seen a game where so many people contributed to the victory. And the fact that Garry Maddox got the game-winner is the most satisfying of all. Because I know that in the back of his mind and the fans' minds was the ball he dropped in the playoffs two years ago in Los Angeles."


"It's hard to realize what we've done," Maddox was saying. "Four of the five games in extra innings. They have-the lead. We have the lead. We're up, we're down and we're up again.


"All I know is that now's the time to go out and have some fun."


There wouldn't be much time, someone said. The Phillies would be leaving Houston in the morning. There was a World Series to be played in two days, and the Kansas City Royals to worry about.


"What do you mean there isn't time?" he said. "Who needs sleep tonight?"


And the celebration kept going for hours on The Night the Phillies Won the Pennant.

The 'No Name' Astros Had An Edge


More players than Phils with Series experience


By Allen Lewis


HOUSTON- Although the Astros are supposed to be the no-name club of the National League, they have more players with World Series experience than the Phillies. Second baseman Joe Morgan played for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972, 1975 and 1976 World Series; infielder Rafael Landestoy played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 Series, and Nolan Ryan pitched for the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series. The only Phillies with World Series experience are first baseman Pete Rose, who played in the 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1976 Series, and Tug McGraw, who pitched in the 1973 Series. Tug was with the Mets in 1969, too, but did not see any action.



The ground crew at the Astrodome earned its money over the weekend. Because of the length of Saturday's National League Championship Series game between the Phillies and Houston Astros, the football game between Houston and Texas A&M did not start until 11:43 p.m., and the teams weren't able to take the field to warm up until almost 11 p.m.


It took that long to make the transition from baseball to football, removing the mound, inserting the goal posts and lining the field. Then, when the football game ended well after 3 a.m., the ground crew had to wrok until past dawn to prepare the field for last night's pennant-deciding contest.


The game was not transferred to another city because Houston coach Bill Yeoman wanted the home field advantage, and would not play the game in the Rice stadium because he felt the ticket transition would be too difficult. It was worth it for Yeoman since his team won.


It was the first college football game played over two days since the Yale-Springfield game in 1891. That one, played in New York's Madison Square Garden, started shortly before midnight.



The injured Astros catchers made remarkable recoveries overnight. Alan Ashby, the regular who suffered a separated rib a week ago in the playoff game at Los Angeles in a home-plate collision with Dodger catcher Joe Ferguson, said last night, "I'm ready to play. I can swing the bat right now. Throwing might be my only problem." And Luis Pujols, who had to leave Saturday's game because a foul ball off the bat of Mike Schmidt severely bruised the outside of his right foot, was in the starting lineup. After Saturday's game, manager Bill Virdon feared he might have a broken bone.


Virdon planned to ask for permission to add Alan Knicely, 25, the only catcher on Houston's 40-man list, if the Astros had to go into the World Series minus a receiver. Knicely spend four years in the farm system as a pitcher, then became a catcher with Columbus, Ga., in the Double-A Southern League last season, hitting 33 home runs. With Tuscon, the Houston Pacific Coast League team this year, he hit 28 homers.



NOTES: It doesn't matter now. But the hot rumor last night was that, if there had been a Yankees-Phillies series, New York owner George Steinbrenner would have gone to court to get the Marty Bystrom-Nino Espinosa ruling overturned. Steinbrenner is a little more excitable than the Astros brass.... Before last night, the last National League playoff game in which Rose didn't get a hit was the second game of the 1973 Reds-Mets series. The next came when Rose got into the the celebrated fight with Bud Harrelson. He also went 2-for-4. He had hit in 13 straight games going into last night. That tied Greg Luzinski's major league playoff record for longest streak. Rose also had hit in the Phillies' last nine games (15-for-31, .484) going into last night.... This series had a chance to break the record for fewest runs in a five-game playoff (31, by the Mets and Reds). The two teams had scored all of 24 in the first four games. The Astros also had a chance to set a record for lowest batting average by a team winning a five-game series (.220 by the Mets). They batted .202 for the first four.... Nolan Ryan insists he's an easy pitcher to catch even though he does throw harder than most. "I throw that light ball," he said, "not like Joaquin's (Andujar), which has a lot of movement.... Umpire Doug Harvey, who had to make the final ruling in Saturday's confusing catch-or-trap looper to the mound, says these last eight days have been his toughest since he's been in baseball. Not only did he work the plate last Sunday and again Monday in Los Angeles when the Astros beat out the Dodgers for the pennant, but he also had Saturday's nail-biter that included a 20-minute argument.... Astros outfielder Gary Woods, a fine prospect when signed by Toronto as a youngster, was about to quit baseball this season until Houston moved its Triple-A farm club from Charleston, W. Va., to Tuscon, his hometown. He batted over .300 before being recalled by the Astros and enjoyed his finest pro season.... In the first 23 major league Championship Series, no team has ever won the first, fourth and fifth games.... McGraw says Marty Bystrom has the presence of a veteran. "He has great composure, and his mental approach to the game is far advanced, compared to most rookies. Nobody knows how good he can be."


Also contributing to this story was staff writer Jayson Stark.  

Zany Playoffs Far From A World Serious


Abner Doubleday wouldn’t recognize the game


By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer


HOUSTON- There have been some Phillies playoff series that even Philadelphians wouldn't want to remember. This year, though, there has been one the whole country might not be able to forget.


The Phillies and Astros have done things this week that nobody has ever seen in October before.


• They have played the longest game in playoff history. Twice.


• They staged a 20-minute rhubarb over a ball that traveled 50 feet. And the rhubarb was so weird that three umpires all disagreed on how many outs the play had produced, both teams protested the game over it and Mike Schmidt wound up arguing with the president of the National League himself.


• They have played three extra-inning games (four with Game Five), and not even a World Series ever had three extra-inning games.


• They had one game where the big play was a runner stopping at third instead of scoring. They had another game where the big play was a guy being called out at third after he already had scored.


• They have turned the sacrifice fly into the least routine play in baseball.


Already there have been two sacrifice fly/ double plays. There was another sacrifice fly that was turned into a double play because the run was disallowed.


There was a third sacrifice fly that turned into a controversy because Dallas Green didn't put a different guy out there to catch it. And then there were all the runs the Phillies didn't score because they couldn't hit a sacrifice fly in the first place.


• The Phillies got what looked like a game-winning hit in one game and got a shutout from a starting pitcher the next. And they didn't win either game.


• In three of the first four games, the team that won was trailing as late as the sixth inning. In the fourth, the team that won never led until the last play of the game.


It has, to be sure, been a wild, memorable, classic playoff series. It has been one that could make a baseball fan out of an armadillo.


"You could write a book about this, and it would be in the top 10 bestsellers in two weeks," said Schmidt after Game 4.


He could have been talking about the entire series. Here is a recap of the whole crazy week:


GAME 1: Phillies 3, Astros 1. The Phillies and Steve Carlton trail, 1-0, after five. But Greg Luzinski bombs his most dramatic home run since Opening Day in the sixth to put them ahead, 2-1. Greg Gross singles in the insurance run in the seventh. Tug McGraw saves it with two shutout innings.


GAME 2: Astros 7, Phillies 4 (10 innings). Dick Ruthven is beating Nolan Ryan, 2-1, in the seventh. But Astros manager Bill Virdon surprisingly lets Ryan bat with two outs, nobody on. Ruthven walks him, and Terry Puhl doubles him in to tie it. Each team scores in the eighth. Then the Phillies put two men on in the ninth.


Lonnie Smith battles Frank LaCorte for 12 pitches. Finally, he loops one into short-right. Bake McBride breaks from second, is nearly at third but turns to watch the play and can't score. The Astros win it with four in the 10th.


The next day the headline in one paper is, "Why Did Bake Stop?" But third-base coach Lee Elia takes all the heat. "I screwed up," he says. "The ball's caught, he wouldn't have had a chance to get back anyway. I should have sent him...."


GAME 3: Astros 1, Phillies 0 (11 innings). The longest scoreless tie in playoff history. The Phillies leave 11 more runners on and get another thrown out at the plate. They get six shutout innings from Larry Christenson and four more from Dickie Noles and McGraw, and that is not enough, because Joe Niekro matches that himself.


Garry Maddox makes a great catch to save the game in the eighth. Schmidt and Rose make two great plays on the same ball to save it another time. They turn two critical double plays. They still lose in the 11th, because McGraw gives up a leadoff triple to Joe Morgan and Luzinski's throw is 60 feet up the line after Denny Walling's sacrifice fly.


GAME 4: Phillies 5, Astros 3 (10 innings). One of the strangest but greatest postseason games ever played. The Phillies protest because Maddox' fourth-inning looper in front of the mound is ruled a double play. The Astros protest because it isn't ruled a triple play.


The 20-minute delay unnerves Carlton. He gives up two runs, is gone after 5-1/3 innings and the game is played in kind of a hazy fog for a long time. But the Astros lose their third run when Gary Woods is called out for leaving third base too soon on a sacrifice fly. The Phillies get out of two bases-loaded jams in a row. Then they come back to score three in the eighth. Jeff Leonard appears to trap Manny Trillo's liner to right, but that one is ruled a catch and a double play, too.


Then the Astros tie it in the eighth, and the Phillies have to do it all over again. But Rose singles, Luzinski comes off the bench to double and Rose bowls over the catcher to score the winning run.


"This baseball game doesn't approach any other baseball game I've ever seen or played in," McGraw said. "It was more dramatic, more exciting, more critical than any baseball game I've ever been a part of."