Wilmington Morning News - October 14, 1980
By David Hughes, Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – They stood and waited, over 5,000 people, in the biting and freezing wind, some for over three hours. These were the most loyal of all Phillies fans.
They gathered at Philadelphia International Airport yesterday afternoon to do one thing: greet the National League Champions on their triumphant return from Houston. And the cheering and enthusiasm never let up for a second.
"We're goin' all the way!" shouted a bunch of rowdies from Philadelphia as they took swigs from beer bottles. "There's no doubt about it now!"
The celebration with the team, though, was quite brief – a huge disappointment for many. The Phillies were whisked away in chartered buses ten minutes after the United Airlines jet touched down just beyond the Overseas Terminal at 2:15 p.m., five minutes earlier than expected.
Most of the jubilant multitude, though, seemed content that they had at least gotten a glance of their heroes. A few were even satisfied that they had even seen the buses filled with players over 100 feet away. One father pointed his finger and told his young son: "See? See the bus? The players are in there."
The fans didn't even seem to mind too much that they were barred from within 100 feet of the team plane by a long, 10-foot high wire fence.
The crowd had started gathering near the airport terminal before noon. Vendors selling Phillies memorabilia set up shop and immediately began doing a heavy trade. Because of Columbus Day there was a heavy showing of school-age people from all over the Delaware Valley.
Pennants, signs and posters were in abundance. One man had a stack of small signs saying "PHILS WILL!" in red letters and was passing one out to everyone. One cloth sign about 10 feet wide proclaimed "Pinstriped chaos." Another announced: "Phillies – we can, we will, we did." And many demanded: "Phillies fever – catch it!"
Vendors were selling red T-shirts which read: "Phillies – 1980 National League Champions." They were going for $4. The sellers advertised: "Buy a Phillies T-shirt! You've been waiting 30 years for them!"
By the time the celebration was over, some vendors trying to sell all their Phillies merchandise were reducing their prices drastically. One man was selling Phillies caps for $2 when they had been going for $5 an hour earlier, because, he said, he had to make back the money he had lost betting on the playoff games the Phillies lost to Houston.
Those who couldn't push and shove for a view along the fence didn't see very much. Hundreds of fans climbed fences some distance away for a better view.
Peaking through the fence, the fans saw the players at a distance. There was Mike Schmidt wearing his brown cowboy hat, and Tug McGraw in his black leather jacket and black cowboy hat. Everyone then let out a collective roar as the burly form and grey hair of Manager Dallas Green appeared. Club owner Ruly Carpenter was briefly visible while milling about, finally ascending the steps of one of the buses.
Philadelphia Mayor Bill Green greeted Dallas Green on the make-shift podium and the Phils' skipper spoke for a few seconds to the jubilant gathering.
"This is obviously one of the greatest moments of my life," yelled Green, "and I've been in this game for 25 years."
Green received extra cheers when he approached the fence to meet the crowd. The loud-speaker system on the makeshift podium was weak, and many were been unable to hear Green's words or those of Tug' McGraw and one or two other players.
Moments later the team buses roared away towards the Vet, where the Phillies were to begin practicing. Within minutes the crowd dispersed completely.
Many of the faithful got in their cars and, with horns honking, followed the team cavalcade across the Girard Point Bridge to Veterans Stadium. Some wanted merely to catch another glimpse at their heroes, others to try and purchase World Series tickets.
By mid-afternoon close to 10,000 fans were in the immediate vicinity of Veterans Stadium, causing massive traffic jams.
If they wanted tickets, however, they were just about out of luck. None were left yesterday afternoon except for a possible seventh game next week.
B&B Tickettown in Wilmington has no more tickets available.
Injuries and fainting spells struck down some would-be Series ticket customers yesterday morning outside Veterans Stadium in a line of over 5,000 people which began forming 21 hours earlier, Phillies officials said.
At least two possible heart attacks were reported, with a few minor injuries and several fainting spells attributed to the crush of people waiting in line, said officials.
People began arriving for tickets at noon Sunday, nearly 12 hours before the Phillies even clinched the pennant with their 8-7 win over the Astros.
Phils hope to ‘Walk’ by Royals in opener
By Ray Finocchiaro, Staff Correspondent
PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green's eyes were still red, his shirt and hair wet with champagne. His fist was around a bottle of the stuff and his arm around Coach Bobby Wine's shoulder.
The Phillies were threatening to rock Houston's Astrodome with their celebrations of 30 years' wait for a World Series in Philadelphia and their manager was leading the cheers.
A guy whose clothes were still dry dared peak ahead a few days and asked who Green's starting pitcher would be for tonight's opening game of the World Series against Kansas City.
Green shook his head and started to walk away.
"I could care less about Tuesday," Dallas Green said.
Ah, but champagne doesn't stop" the calendar, it just dampens its pages a bit. Tuesday is here, and so are the Kansas City Royals, and over 65,000 fans will pack Veterans Stadium to the rafters and cheer for... Bob Walk.
You say Bob Walk is not your idea of a pitcher to face K.C.'s Dennis Leonard? Well, after using just about his whole staff, as promised, in Sunday night's 8-7 Astrodome clincher, Green wasn't left with much choice.
Yesterday, looking fit and trim, his Phillies double knits clean and dry, Green gave the only pitcher he didn't use in Houston and hasn't used in 12 days a vote of confidence.
"I have no qualms about using Bobby Walk," Green told a press contingent shortly after the Phillies deplaned at the Philadelphia International Airport's overseas terminal before several thousand cheering fans. "Bobby did the job when we needed it. He had a little slip for a while with his control and poise but he's okay now."
Walk followed Green to the dais and admitted he was "a bit surprised and real excited" about pitching the Phils' first World Series game in 30 years.
"I don't think the (12-day) layoff will hurt me," said the rookie right-hander who will face, a Royal contingent that eliminated the New York Yankees in three straight games. "The excitement of pitching in the Series should take care of being rusty."
Speaking of layoffs, people wondered what the three days off since the Yankee Massacre would do to the Royals' momentum.
"It will have no effect," said KC Manager Jim Frey, a rookie himself. "All it does is set up my pitching. (Larry Gura and Rich Gale will follow Leonard). In terms of psychology, I expect both teams to fight 'til the last out. Both teams will have the same emotion when they walk onto the field."
George Brett, the .390-hitting KC third baseman, agreed. "We had a three-week layoff at the end of the season and it didn't bother us," he joked.
Pete Rose's view is a bit different.
"I'd rather be where WE are than where Kansas City is," said Rose. "I'm a firm believer in momentum. Kansas City had three days off. That's good for the pitching rotation, but players who are swinging the bat good or playing good in the field prefer to play every day. This is a game of momentum."
KC starter Leonard says all he knows about the Phillies is "what I saw on television a few times. They're a power team but they only hit one home run in the playoffs."
That was Greg Luzinski's homer that won the opening game. After that, particularly in the spacious Astrodome, the rockets from the bats of Luzinski and Mike Schmidt invariably fell short of the faraway walls.
Luzinski is a likely candidate to be the Phils' first-ever designated hitter tonight, though Green wouldn't commit himself before consulting his scouts. The Bull could be the DH with a left-handed swinger like Del Unser or Greg Gross in left.
Schmidt, who promised to be a better hitter in the Series, insisted the Phillies' playoff victory had wiped out the bitter memories of past playoff near-misses.
"We're guaranteed at least four games in front of the world and so is Kansas City," Schmidt said. "This completely wipes away the old sayings about your team, in my book. Wipes 'em all out."
It should be a competitive World Series, but whether it could match the drama and the unusual nature of the best-of-five shootout with the Houston Astros remains to be seen.
"The Astros will never been completely behind us," said Green of the incredible five-game set that got the Phillies this far. "That had to rank with the greatest series of all time. You don't forget them but you do have to come down off the cloud and get ready for the next one."
Rose, who's been in six playoffs and four World Series, doesn't feel the pressure will be as great in this best-of-seven set for the world championship.
"I've always said there's no pressure in the World Series," Rose reiterated. "In the playoffs, it's best-of-five and you're playing people you played all summer. That makes it a pressure-packed series. But anybody can get their act together in a 4-of-7 series.
"I think our team is loose. I really can sense and believe that in the last 6-8 weeks the ball club really grew up and learned a lot about winning and losing."
Tonight's World Series opener will be a good time for the Phillies to demonstrate that to a baseball-mad Delaware Valley, one Rose said "would go ape if we won the World Series."
Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter agrees.
"The real winners are the Phillies' fans," he said. "They have waited so many years for this moment. I'm glad we finally brought home a pennant for them."
EXTRA INNINGS - The Phillies took precautionary X-rays on catcher Bob Boone's left foot yesterday, which Boone hurt in a collision with Houston's Enos Cabell Sunday night... Boone is expected to play tonight... Leonard beat the Yankees 3-2 in the second game of the AL playoffs in Royals Stadium... Steve Carlton will pitch tomorrow night's game against lefthander Gura, who beat the Yanks 7-2 in the playoff opener... After an off-day Thursday, the Series resumes in Kansas City Friday night.
Umpires set for World Series
PHILADELPHIA - The names of the six umpires who will officiate the 1980 World Series were announced yesterday by baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn s office.
Representing the National League will be Paul Pryor, Harry Wendelstedt and Dutch Rennert, a spokesman for Kuhn said.
Bill Kunkel, Don Denkinger and Nick Bremigan were selected from the American League, the spokesman added.
In the opening game today, Wendelstedt will be behind the plate, Kunkel at first, Pryor at second, Denkinger at third, Rennert in left field and Bremigan in right.
The practice of using six umpires, including one on each foul line in the outfield, began with the World Series of 1947.
Pryor will be working his third World Series. He had previously been assigned to the 1967 Series between Boston and St. Louis and with Wendelstedt worked the 1973 Series between Oakland and the New York Mets.
Both Kunkel and Denkinger worked in the 1974 Series between Oakland and Los Angeles.
This will be the first Series assignment for Rennert and Bremigan.
Wockenfuss picks Royals in World Series
By Matt Zabitka
Just before the New York Yankees and the Kansas City Royals hooked up in their best-of-five series for the American League pennant, John Wockenfuss was bombarded with queries from fans, seeking his opinion on the outcome.
"I told everybody that I thought Kansas City would sweep the Yankees, that it would be no contest," said the Detroit Tigers' multiple-purpose player from Wilmington, adding: "I based my opinion on which of the two teams was the toughest for us to handle this season."
And Wockenfuss was right. The Royals took the Yankees in three straight.
So what's his opinion on the 1980 World Series that opens tonight between the Phillies and the Royals at the Vet?
"I pick the Royals to beat the Phillies in five, maybe six games. Matt Zabitka They're a tough club, a solid one. I base a lot of my opinion after watching the Phillies struggle through their five-game series with the Houston Astros and after having played against the Royals."
For the former outstanding, all-around athlete from Dickinson High, the 1980 season, his seventh in the majors, was a banner one. He recorded personal major league highs for one season in at-bats (369), runs (55), hits (101), homers (16), and runs-batted-in (65). He had a final batting average of .274.
He hit higher (.283) in 1978, but that was for only 187 at-bats. And he did hit .274 in 1977, but that was for only 53 games and 164 at-bats.
At 31, the former Dickinson football drop-kicker seems to be improving with age.
"It all comes with having confidence, with the feeling that your're there and you belong there," explained Wockenfuss, winner of the 1979 Delaware Athlete of the Year Award, presented by the Wilmington Sportswriters & Broadcasters' Association. "I hit the ball good and Sparky Anderson (Tigers' manager) gave me the confidence I needed. He showed he had confidence in me by batting me fourth, and that helps.
"During a stretch there in August when I slumped, Sparky still kept me fourth.
"I hit a slump during a period when three of our top hitters – Richie Hebner, Steve Kemp and John Summers – were out with injuries. Seems like all the others players were trying too hard to pick up the slack and everybody slumped. We were getting well-pitched games, but couldn't score the runs.
"If we hadn't gone sour there near the end of the season, we'd have been right there. At one time, in July, we were in second place (in the AL East).
"Just before the All-Star break, I remember an 11-game road trip we made when we lost the first game, then won nine in a row before losing the last. When we returned to Detroit we were met at the airport by hordes of cheering fans, greeting us like all-conquering heroes.
"I think we're going to be very tough in 1981 if we get some pitching. Of course, everybody is in need of pitching."
Detroit tied the Boston Red Sox for fourth place in the final AL East standings, each with a .519 winning percentage. The Red Sox had an 83-77 log, compared to the Tigers' 84-78, both finishing 19 games behind division winner New York.
As a comparison, the Tigers' 84-78 record was better than the log posted by Billy Martin's Oakland A's (83-79), who finished second to the Royals in the AL West.
And, speaking of Kansas City, Wockenfuss is very high on Royal right-handed pitcher Renie Martin of Dover, who this year, in his first full season in the majors, recorded a 10-10 record.
"Renie has one of the best curve balls in the league," said Wockenfuss. "and he has a very deceptive fastball. It kinda sneaks up on you. He pitched against us but I didn't get to bat against him and I'm glad. He is really good. Sparky and our pitching coaches were overly impressed with Renie. He's going to do a super job for Kansas City in future years. He's going to win a lot of games for them."
I related to Wockenfuss how Martin, a product of Dover, University of Richmond and Parkway of the Delaware Semi-Pro League, happened to be at the right place at the right time in getting his big break. Martin, a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, was pitching for the Jacksonville Suns of the Class AA Southern League in early 1979, at a time when a couple of Royals' pitchers were on the injured list. An emergency call went to Jacksonville from the Royals, to have Martin join the K.C. team immediately in Arlington, Tex. Martin didn't even have enough time to pack all his belongings when he left Jacksonville for Arlington, where that night he was immediately thrown into the fire, getting his major league baptismal. He pitched the last 1⅓ innings in a 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers, for which he was credited with a save.
"I had almost the same thing happen to me," said Wockenfuss. "In 1974, when I was playing with Evansville, we were in Tulsa, Okla., for a game when our pitching coach, Fred Gladney, called me at my hotel room. I was in the bathroom when the call came and I almost fell in the hopper when he told me I had 10 minutes to catch a plane. I told him we had a half hour, not 10 minutes before our plane left for Evansville. He told me this was the big time, that I was to catch a plane to Texas, to join the Tigers. I didn't believe him. I thought he was kidding. But I rushed and caught the plane to Texas and got into my first major league game the next day."
Wockenfuss has been on the home scene since the day after the 1980 season ended and for the first time in many years has no extended hunting trip in the works.
"We just bought a new home and I decided to stick around the house this year. Besides, I haven't been around the family long enough as it is. I'm still going to go hunting, but mostly around Pennsylvania and Delaware. I'll be going out for deer but I can't tell you where I hunt in Delaware. That's a secret."
Wockenfuss said Anderson will definitely be back as manager in 1981 ("He has four years left on his contract") and "I hope to be playing baseball until I can't play anymore."
And it's no secret that Sparky has an affinity for Wockenfuss because of his versatility. The past season saw him play first base, left field, right field, catch, pinch-hitter and designated hitter.
Wockenfuss didn't say it during this interview, but in a previous session he attributed his turn-around to a much higher authority.
Three years ago at a Baseball Chapel service, Wockenfuss prayed to receive Jesus Christ. "From that day forward my life began to change," he had said. "On the field I was always pressing. The Lord took these pressures off my shoulders."
Last year, he hit 15 home runs and produced 46 RBIs in 87 games. And this year, he eclipsed his previous bests.
"I used to be a night person. I drank and caroused. I was terrible in the minor leagues," he once admitted. "I punched a hole in the dugout roof. I threw stones at the fans. I bumped umpires. I lost my temper at home and took it out on my wife (Pamela Jo)."
That was all in the past. Today, John Wockenfuss has found peace and temperance, and his play has reflected his "new found life," thanks to the help of a Baseball Chapel Service he attended three years ago.