Camden Courier-Post - October 15, 1980
Phils dump script, win 7-6
By Bob Kinney, Courier-Post Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Phillies ignored the script last night and won the World Series game they were supposed to lose.
The "Comeback Kids" came back from a 4-0 deficit to upset the well-rested Kansas City Royals, 7-6, and suddenly the world, championship is just three victories away.
Steve Carlton, who won 24 games this season, will be on the mound when the series resumes with Game Two tonight in Veterans Stadium.
In 1950, the Phillies lost the World Series to the New York Yankees in four straight after they gambled and lost by starting relief ace Jim Konstanty in the first game.
Last night, Manager Dallas Green gambled on 23-year-old Bob Walk, the first rookie to pitch a series opener in 28 years, and won.
Walk, who struggled the last half of the season after winning eight of his first nine decisions, had not pitched in two weeks.
Many experts felt the Phillies were conceding the first game to Kansas City in an effort to get their pitching problems ironed out.
"We don't ever plan to lose," said Green, who had used all other available pitchers to win the National League playoff over the weekend in Houston. "I felt Bobby would get his act together."
Bob Boone contributed two run-producing doubles and Bake McBride hit a three-run home run to lead the first-game assault on Kansas City and ace pitcher Dennis Leonard, a 20-game winner.
The Phillies never flinched when Amos Otis and Willie Mays Aikens hit two-run homers in the second and third, respectively, to make it 4-0. They used a perfect throw from left fielder Lonnie Smith to cut down a startled Darrell Porter at the plate, then came in and scored five runs to take command.
"I'd prefer it the other way," said Green. "But this club has geared up and come from behind a lot the last 10 days."
Larry Bowa started the third-inning comeback with a single and a stolen base that riled the Royals. Pete Rose kept things going by getting bit with a pitch and McBride capped it with his home run.
"I think a lot of fans thought we'd lose with Walk," said Bowa. "But the players didn't feel that way."
Walk was touched up for three two-run homers but hung on until Tug McGraw, the lefty the experts said couldn't possibly pitch, came on to get the last six outs.
"My desire is to prove Howard Cosell wrong," said McGraw. "He said by going to the well too often we would lose. But he doesn't know the game."
Green signaled for Tug after Aikens hit his second homer following a George Brett double in the eighth. With the crowd roaring on every pitch, the Irishman took control.
There were a record 65,791 fans in Veterans Stadium last night and McGraw credited them with an assist in the team's first World Series victory since 1915.
"There was lots of energy in the crowd tonight," said McGraw. "I seemed to draw from it."
The veteran lefty, who pitched in all five playoff games and the last two important regular-season battles in Montreal, struck out the last two batters to give the Phillies the all-important first-game edge in the series.
With the victory, the Phillies take control of the series. Green has Carlton, the premier lefthander in baseball, ready to go tonight against the Royals and their lefty-loaded lineup.
Any edge Kansas City had because of the worn-out Phillies' pitching staff was erased by Walk's performance.
Dick Ruthven, whose victory in the pennant-clincher Sunday was his 18th of the season, will pitch the third game in Kansas City Friday.
Meanwhile, the American League champions will have to rebound knowing their ace has already lost. Larry Gura will pitch in tonight's 8:15 game for the Royals.
Intimidation: 2-way street
By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – The attempts to unsettle the young Phillies' pitcher were so subtle, few people noticed as the Kansas City hitters fidgeted and took their sweet time finding comfort in the batters box at Veterans Stadium.
Only Royals' first baseman Willie Mays Aikens went to extremes, dragging his foot back and forth, erasing the white line at the back of the box and frustrating plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt in the bargain.
Righthander Bob Walk stood nervously on the mound and waited. He was the first rookie hurler to start the opening game of a World Series since Brooklyn's Joe Black got the nod against the Yankees in the 1952 Fall Classic.
Thus, the plan of attack against this 23-year-old seemed perfect, especially after Amos Otis and Aikens (who would homer twice on the night) lined fast balls over the fence to give the American League representatives a 4-0 lead in the third inning.
The visitors forgot one thing: Intimidation is a two-way street and doesn't have to be subtle at all, as Royals 20-game winner Dennis Leonard and his teammates would soon discover.
Swaggering, stealing and shouting their defiance, the Phils once again unleashed their roar-back offense to parlay a five-run, third-inning rally into a 7-6 victory in the series debut.
"When Larry Bowa singled and stole second... That was a good message," explained reliever Tug McGraw, who once again put the lid on the triumph.
"And," he added, "when Pete Rose fired himself up... we felt that was the green light."
Bowa's touch of larceny was a "message" because he took off for second base at a time that can only be described as wonderfully arrogant. When you're four runs behind with one away in the third inning, you're supposed to build cautiously toward a big rally. Especially when you haven't stolen a base in that situation all year.
"The unwritten rule is to stay put on first," said Bowa with a grin. "But, the Royals were sticking it up our butts. We had to let them know they weren't dealing with a timid team. I wanted us to be aggressive."
Boone laced a run-scoring double to left and scored on a butchered rundown play following a single by Lonnie Smith to make it 4-2, bringing Rose to the plate ready to show more of the same. And nobody can blow the lid off a game's composure better than Pete.
Leonard hit Rose with a breaking ball that many people thought could be avoided. "I guess so," said Pete with a devilish look. "But, that isn't what happened. I wasn't mad. I was glad he hit me."
What followed was that Rose, who knew Leonard didn't hit him intentionally with the pitch, slammed his bat down and took a route toward first base that hinted he might be considering a visit to the pitcher's mound.
"You can't write what I had to say," Rose said. "If there was a guy from Hustler Magazine here, he could write it."
But the Phils' dugout didn't fully erupt until Leonard attempted a pickoff throw to first base and Rose began shouting and pointing to the plate with the suggestion that Leonard concentrate on throwing the ball to the batter, Mike Schmidt.
Message delivered. Green light signaled. The next few minutes saw Leonard walk Schmidt and serve up a home run ball to McBride. The Phils never trailed after that.
As for Walk, he pulled himself together. Since the home fun by Aikens had proved that his best "throw it past the hitters" fast ball wasn't at full speed because of inactivity, the kid switched grips on the baseball and turned his fastball into a sinker.
"I was nervous at the start," said the youngster who spent last summer pitching in the minor leagues and was pumping gas during last year's World Series.
"The Royals were definitely trying to make me work," he added. "I can't imagine the batters' box being that big a deal for Aikens. Yes, being I'm a rookie, I think they were trying to get to me a little.
"But the real pressure was in knowing that our pitchers needed a rest, especially Tug McGraw."
McGraw, who came on the scene in the eighth inning after Aikens caught on to Walk's sinkerball act and slammed another two-run homer to bring the Royals to within a run of the Phils, begged to differ with Walk, Howard Cosell and anyone else who thinks he's being overworked.
"I keep myself in shape. I have confidence in my ability," said Tug, who put down the Royals rally and hammered down the, victory with three decisive outs in the ninth inning.
The Royals started off the night giving one of the Phillies' kids a rough time, but went home with the knowledge that no matter what you hear about division in the Philly locker room, when Dallas Green's gang is on the field, you've got to fight them all.
A Royal night for Philly fanatics
By William W, Sutton Jr. of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – A thunderous roar filled the sky last night as jubilant, whooping fans rushed from everywhere.
Dallas Green's red-and-white baseball machine began its march towards the world championship with a big victory as the Philadelphia Phillies won the first game of the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals, 7-6.
The triumph gave loyal fans had yet another reason to rejoice and further support for their belief that this city may be just days away from winning the first World Series title in its history.
"Never had a doubt! Never had a doubt!" one excited fan shouted as he ran out of the main exit. "They're going all the way."
The Phillies made a lot of people happy yesterday by winning the opening game. One of them was Harry Scalan of Penns Grove.
Scalan, who celebrated his 77th birthday Monday, got the first of his four-part birthday wish with the Phillies win. If the Phillies win the next three games Scalan's dream will be fulfilled.
"They're gonna take it in four. I know it," Scalan boasted.
Bridgeton's Bill Van Vliet chose the Phillies as winners yesterday but still lost $100.
"I had a bet in a pool that the Phillies would take it 7-4. I'm going to send Dallas Green the bill for not pulling (Bob) Walk out of there in the seventh," he said. "I lost a $100 on that game."
Phillies manager Green did not remove rookie pitcher Walk from the game until the eighth inning after the Royals had pulled to within one run.
Despite his monetary loss, however, Van Vliet was a happy man.
"I am absolutely thrilled with the win," he said as he left the game. "No matter what happens now – even if they lose it in the next four, I've been satisfied with this year's team."
Before the game started fans strolled to the game from all directions. As game time neared, the traffic grew heavier and fans rushed to stadium entrances.
Most had tickets for the sell-out game in hand. Others didn't.
Willie James said he wanted to see the game so bad he flew in from Los Angeles without a ticket, hoping he could find a good seat for a good price a few minutes before the game. He soon found out tickets for the sold-out game were not cheap.
James, a machinist from Altadena, Calif., said he wanted to see the game "pretty bad" but not bad enough to spend more than $20 to $30.
"I heard somebody sold one (ticket) for a $100. If I don't see it, that's okay. I'll just go back to the hotel and watch it on TV and come back tomorrow and try, to get in again," he said after failing to get results by carrying an "I need tickets" sign around the stadium.
Twenty-five-year-old Dave Schorch of Cincinnati waited until the last minute to get tickets. When he arrived at the stadium minutes, before the game he found out tickets from scalpers were not cheap.
"They're selling these things for ridiculous prices," he said. "Maybe after the National Anthem they'll go down a bit. I'd hoped to get in for $25."
Many non-ticketholders bought tickets at the inflated prices. The average rate seemed to be about $45.
Not all scalpers were slick enough to avoid trouble. Security officers caught a few of them red-handed and confiscated all of their tickets.
Robert Calandra of South Philadelphia was able to take not having a ticket in stride.
Dressed quite similar to Harpo Marx, he rode a bicycle around the stadium constantly honking a large horn and shouting, "Let's go Phillies!"
Even the Spectrum – across the street from Veterans Stadium – got in on the World Series act. The large marquis in front of the home of the Flyers and 76ers holds a message reading "We love Worlds Series parades. Beat 'em Royally."
Psychic says it’s in the stars for Phillies
By Ken Shuttleworth of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – While psychic Jeane Dixon says the Phillies' good vibrations make the team the likely World Series winner, sports handicapper Mickey Charles says statistics favor the Royals.
"I get that the Phillies are going to win," Dixon said yesterday during a news conference at the Warwick Hotel, 17th and Locust streets, where Bell Telephone unveiled its new Dial-It Servicer.
The service features the world-renowned seer giving tape recorded daily , horoscopes on special telephone lines that correspond with the caller's astrological sign. Callers also can hear Charles and members of his staff giving sports scores and other information by calling another special number.
Before making her prediction, Dixon acknowledged she knows little or nothing about baseball. After listening to Charles expound for nearly 10 minutes on why he favors the Kansas City Royals, Dixon qualified her prediction by explaining that she may be confusing fan enthusiasm here with the Phillies vibrations.
"I'd just like to say, don't place any bets," she said.
Charles, a New York attorney, said he favors the Royals because he believes the American League champions have better pitching. "Who do the Phillies really have after Steve Carlton?
"The Phillies are possibly the worst running team in baseball," he said. "Pete Rose is a 39-year-old hot dog."
However, Charles said he admires the Phillie first baseman's performance, if not his personal style.
Charles, whose Atlantic City-based weekend radio talk show on sports is heard by thousands of fans, said the Philadelphia fans have perpetuated myths about their hometeam.
"The Phillies are a good team. They're not a great team," he said. "The Phillies are a bread-and-butter team. They're not a long ball-hitting team."
The telephone company service also will feature Christmas messages from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. Santa was the master of ceremonies yesterday and, like Charles and Dixon, addressed himself to the World Series.
"The best team will win," he said with a twinkle. Then, putting a finger aside of his nose, he added: "I have to go to Kansas City, too, you know."
Sale of 32,000 programs sets Series record
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Baseball fans set an unofficial World Series record last night by purchasing 32,800 game programs before Phillies' 1950 manager Eddie Sawyer threw out the first ball.
That left vendors empty-handed during the game, and Phillies' officials frantic about programs for Game Two.
"We figured 32,800 programs (sold for $2.50 each) would be enough for the first two games combined," said Tom Hudson, the Phillies advertising director.
The San Francisco Webb Offset Co., which began printing World Series programs in 1974, agreed to rush an additional 42,000 programs in time for today's game. The company said its highest single-game sale was 18,000 programs for Game One of the 1978 series in Los Angeles.
Programs from the 1950 World Series, featuring the Phillies and the New York Yankees, reportedly sell for about $30.
One down and three more to go!
McBride’s homer sparks victory
By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies got seven innings from a rookie and two innings from an overworked reliever here last night, then added just enough hitting to take a 1-0 lead in the World Series.
Bake McBride bounced back from a subpar playoff series to bang out three hits, including a three-run homer, and suddenly the Phillies are the Series favorite, thanks to a 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Bob Walk became the first rookie since the Brooklyn Dodgers' Joe Black in 1952 to start the first game of a World Series, and he survived three Kansas City home runs to get the win.
WALK GOT the win because Manager Dallas Green reneged on a promise to give Tug McGraw a night off. The Phillies' manager waved for his ace reliever when the Royals knocked out Walk and moved within a run in the eighth inning.
McGraw faced only six batters as lie put Kansas City down over the last two innings to save the victory for the 23-year-old Walk.
"I love the crowd," said McGraw, referring to the 65,791 fans who jammed Veterans Stadium – the most to see a World Series game since 1964. "There was lots of energy in the crowd. I seemed to draw from it."
It was McBride, who managed just five meaningless singles in the five-game National League Championship Serieswith Houston, who supplied the explosion which destroyed the Royals.
BAKE CAUGHT a Dennis Leonard fast ball and planted it over the fence in deep right-center after a hit batter and walk in the third inning. The home run capped a five-run outburst and erased a four-run Kansas City lead.
"As soon as I hit it, I dropped my bat and watched," said McBride. "I could tell it was going. I wasn't guessing. I just wanted to make contact."
McBride was the goat of the Phillies' second-game loss to the Astros and failed to deliver in a couple of clutch situations in Houston.
"The playoffs were nerve-racking," said McBride. "I was drained, but I've dreamed of playing in a World Series since I started playing baseball."
McBRIDE GOT his chance to be a hero when Leonard, the Royals' 20-game winner, came undone after a Kansas City defensive lapse. Leonard was sailing along, 4-0, behind a pair of two-run homers, one by Amos Otis in the second and one in the third by Willie Mays Aikens.
It was obvious Walk was struggling, but some careless baserunning by Royals' catcher Darrell Porter cost Kansas City a third run in the third. Porter was fooled by a Bob Boone decoy and failed to slide trying to score from second on a Clint Hurdle single to left.
Lonnie Smith made a perfect throw on the fly to Boone, who tagged out the startled runner to end the inning.
"I didn't know where the ball was," Porter admitted. "I didn't have time to get my foot around to slide."
PERHAPS THE Royals were still y thinking about that mistake when, Larry Bowa singled with one out in the bottom of the inning and stole second base.
"We showed right then we were coming at them," said McGraw.
Boone followed with a double to left and it
was 4-1. Smith then singled Boone to third but took a wide turn at first and was caught in a rundown by George Brett. The Royals permitted Boone to score on the rundown, though, and suddenly it
"We got an out, but we sacrificed a run in doing so," said Willie Wilson. "That was the big play."
IT APPEARED to upset Leonard, who hit Pete Rose on a two-strike pitch and then walked Mike Schmidt.
"That was the big play,” said Royals' Manager Jim Frey. "We could have gotten out of the inning but he gets two strikes on Rose and hits him."
Leonard hinted that Rose stepped into the pitch.
"Dennis should know better than that," said Pete. "That's illegal and I never do anything illegal."
WHEN LEONARD got a 1-1 pitch too fat for McBride, it was 5-4 Phillies and the National League champions forgot how tired they were supposed to be.
Boone doubled after a Manny Trillo single to make it 6-4 in the fourth; and Garry Maddox brought' in Schmidt with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-4 in the fifth.
"Bake's home run picked us all up, especially me," said Walk, who settled down to retire nine straight batters in the middle three innings.
"I was pretty shaky at the start arid they were on my fast ball. I had to change plans. I turned the ball over more."
RIGHT FIELDER McBride and center fielder Maddox helped out in the fifth, going to the wall to take long drives from Hal McRae and George Brett, respectively.
"I felt Bobby would get his act together," said Green. "But I'll admit he was one batter away from leaving (the game) with me a couple times."
It finally happened in the eighth Brett doubled into the left-center gap. Aikens then celebrated his 26th birthday by hitting a second two-run homer.
It was 7-6 now and Green wasn't concerned about how tired McGraw might be. It mattered not that his ace reliever had appeared in all five playoffs games against Houston and in both showdown games when the division title was won in Montreal the last weekend of the season.
TUG GOT THE wave and came bouncing in out of the Phillies golf cart. "Sure I'm tired," the lefty admitted. "But, as a relief pitcher, I condition myself to pitch every day.
"I consider myself a good athlete." I just have to reach back for that little extra," McGraw said.
He reached and he got it when he forced pinch hitter John Wathan to hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth. He got it again when he struck out U.L. Washington looking and Wilson swinging to end the game.
"What this means," said Frey, "is that we can't win this thing in four games. We'll need five."
Frey has Larry Gura, an 18-game winner, ready for tonight's second game. The Phillies will send Steve Carlton to the mound.
Boone’s new season off to great start
By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – The 1980 season is past, a regrettable piece of history in the career of Bob Boone.
The Phillies' catcher has taken the posture that the playoffs and World Series represent a beginning – a new year, if you will – and that what took place in the six months prior to the post-season is irrelevant.
"It started all over again in the playoffs," Boone said last-night after contributing three hits – two of them doubles – a run and two RBIs to the Phils' 7-6 World Series win over the Kansas City Royals. “That season I had is in the past."
It is one thing to mentally wipe the slate clean. It is another to convince people that a .229 batting average doesn't belong beside your name.
Even Dallas Green's designated-hitter lineup reflected skepticism. Boone was the No. 9 hitter. Green's explanation, however, made some sense. "I hit (Larry) Bowa eighth because Boonie can drive him in from first base with, say, a double. You can't say the same thing if you reverse them."
"The last couple weeks my stroke has come around," Boone said. "I've been looking for it all year, so it's no fluke. At least, don't think it's a fluke."
Some people might suggest that Boone's game-tying base hit in the ninth inning of the clincher against Montreal was a fluke. Or that his two-run single off Nolan Ryan Sunday was a momentary flash of heat from a long-dormant source.
But last night there was no denying the fact Boone hit with authority. Never mind that he was playing virtually on one foot, the other having been rendered helpless by some errant Astro spikes Sunday. A 3-for-4 from Bob Boone was welcome under any circumstances.
"I have pain in it," said Boone, who has spent the last couple days with his left foot encased in ice. "But there's not enough pain to keep me out of the World Series."
It seems strange that the Boone who was booed so regularly during the season by Veterans Stadium fans last night drew nothing but raves from the record 65,791 on hand to celebrate Philadelphia's first World Series game in 30 years.
Said Boone sardonically, "I've learned, especially this year, not to worry about crowd reaction."
And, it wasn't just a little ironic that Boone's was the first Philly extra-base hit in the Series, a third-inning double to left that drove home Bowa and began a five-run surge.
Boone scored the inning's second run, drawing the Phils to within 4-2, after Lonnie Smith singled. Not on Smith's single, after.
Boone pulled up at third on the hit as Smith took his obligatory pratfall, slipping between first and second. Royals' third baseman George Brett ran Smith down and, during the process, Boone snuck in.
"I was in a great position because (shortstop) U.L. Washington wasn't at third," said Boone. "So I just slid down the line as George moved toward Lonnie.
"It's a situation where you can't really lose because there's a lot of leeway to move. If George looks me back, Lonnie's safe. I thought I could make it. But I always think I can make it. That's one of my problems – I have great base-running instincts, but I'm slow."
Boone smiled as he delivered his last line, knowing full well his, ah, track record. About the nicest thing you can say about Boone's baserunning is it's adventuresome.
Just over two weeks ago, Boone had little to smile about. Green benched Boone along with Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox. Soon after, Green stunned the city by saying he thought "10 percent" of his players didn't want to win. The statement seemed to imply that Boone was part of the 10 percent.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
"When you do that, you point the fingerat the guys you sit down," said Green. "That's not the case with Bob Boone. He sacrificed an awful lot. He wants to win. He cares. When he is healthy, he is an all-star catcher.
"He can compete for me any time."
Green knew better than anyone that the only place where Boone's numbers would draw praise was a bowling alley. Yet there Boone was, day after day dragging the dead weight of his .229 average to the plate, while rookie Keith Moreland fidgeted on his solid .314 statistics.
"He's taken a lot of heat because the kid has looked so good on offense," said Green. "If we don't have the kid, he would not have had to take as much heat."
One of the reasons why Green stayed with Boone so long was apparent last night, when Boone neatly decoyed Darrell Porter into an easy out at the plate. Boone did much the same thing to Houston's Luis Pujols on a much tougher play.
Another reason is Boone, with his experience, is a better bet than Moreland to throw out base stealers. Still another – perhaps the most important – is handling the pitchers. It literally takes years for a catcher to learn the subtleties of handling a Steve Carlton one day, a Bob Walk the next.
Numbers, as everyone well knows, can be deceiving. That's not to say Boone cleverly disguised a great year in a costume 40 points below his career average. But the fact remains Boone managed to match his home run and extra-base hit totals while driving in only three fewer runs than last season, when he hit .286.
So, maybe it isn't so surprising that Bob Boone's second season has gone so well. It might even erase the first.
Robert knew pressure faced by rookie Walk
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Former Philadelphia baseball great Robin Roberts thought it "risky" of the Phillies to start the World Series with rookie Bob Walk, a 23-year-old pitcher who hadn't thrown in the playoffs.
"He had a shaky start, but came through," Roberts said early today after watching the Phillies edge Kansas City, 7-6.
"I thought it was a big gamble, but it paid off. It's something I would not have done."
Roberts, 53, remembers back to when he pitched the Phils into the series – 30 years ago. And he knows how Walk felt. Roberts, now head baseball coach at the University of South Florida, was a 23-year-old rookie himself when he led the "Whiz Kids" to the 1950 championship series.
"The pressure is tremendous. You hang in there," he said as he prepared to fly to Philadelphia to throw out the first ball in tonight's second game.
He thinks the pressure was greater on Walk than on himself because Walk didn't pitch in the National League playoffs. And it was different years ago, when Roberts started.
"It was a necessity," said Roberts, explaining that ace lefthander Curt Simmons had just been called to active military duty and two other pitchers were injured.
"Today it's different. They are higher paid, there's more pressure, big stadiums, big salaries, television – all big, big, big. I don't think the players are allowed time to relax and enjoy things."
Walk pitched to give Steve Carlton a respite.
Walk, a hard-throwing righthander and No. 5 on the pitching staff, gave up six runs, then reliever Tug McGraw took over in the eighth and preserved the victory.
Today, he'll get to see Carlton, his favorite pitcher, first-hand.
"I'm excited about it, and I'm extra happy because Carlton is pitching," said Roberts, who calls the veteran lefthander "the best pitcher in baseball today."
Roberts, as a 23-year-old rookie, pitched three games in the final five days of the 1950 season, including a 4-1, 10-inning win over Brooklyn on the final day to preserve the Phillies' National League pennant.
A 20-game winner during the regular season, Roberts lost a 2-1 duel to the New York Yankees' Allie Reynolds in the second game of the Yankees' Series sweep. At the time, Carlton was a five-year-old.
Roberts said he's been an avid Phillies fan since his retirement in 1968 and has suffered along with the others through the team's lean years.
This year's team, a slight underdog against Kansas City, seems different, he said.
"It's a miracle they came back. There were times when they were out of it – 12 games behind. They pulled it out in September. I hope . they can pull it out now. I've never been a gambling man, but I would not bet against them. They're solid," Roberts said.
Aikens celebrates with pair of homers
By Vic Carucci of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – It was only batting practice, but the balls that made contact with Willie Mays Aikens' bat were showing up on radar at Philadelphia International Airport.
The satellites that beamed last flight's first game of the World Series to millions were in danger of getting blasted out of space.
This batting practice, it seemed, was a last-minute tuneup that matched the magnitude of what was to follow. It figured to leave Aikens, the Kansas City Royals' free-swinging first baseman, with a good feeling.
"MOST OF the time," Aikens said, '' when I really feel good in batting practice, I have a terrible baseball game. And when I swing bad during batting practice, I usually go out and hit the ball good in the game."
Last night was different.
Aikens celebrated his 26th birthday by hitting two two-run homers in the Royals' 7-6 loss to the Phillies. Only two others – Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski and Oakland's Gene Tenace – have hit two home runs in their first World Series game.
Aikens' feat confirmed what the Phillies' scouting report had said – the Royals doubles hitters will become homerun hitters in Veterans Stadium.
AND, IF the ball is as lively in tonight's second game as it was last night, more Of the same can be expected.
"Usually, in batting practice, I don't work on hitting the ball out of the park. I work on staying back and hitting the ball to the opposite field," Aikens said. "But, in batting practice, f hit a couple of balls out of the park.
"The ball carried some. The first home run I hit, I hit it good. But I skyed it, and I really didn't think it was going out of the park.
"The second home run, I hit it off the end of the bat, and I figured it had a chance to go out, because it was a line drive-type hit."
HITTING TWO home runs after a remarkable performance in batting practice wasn't the only surprise for Aikens.
"Last night, I prayed some," he said. "I asked the Lord to let me go out and get two or three hits and I asked him to let me hit a couple of balls out of the park... I just can't believe it happened."
The loss dampened some of his joy.
"I don't feel too happy now, because we're down one game to nothing," Aikens said. "On this club, we don't think much about personal stats. I'd be happy to go 0-for-4 tomorrow as long as we can win.
"BUT AT least I'm confident now tftat if I get my pitch, I can hit those guys."
Even tonight's starter, Steve Carlton?
"As I've said before, he's capable of going out and losing a game, and I think we're capable of going out and beating him," Aikens said. "If we can beat him, that'll give the guys on this team the confidence we need to take back to Kansas City."
Willie Wilson could use a truck load of that confidence.
THE ROYALS' switch-hitting left fielder had 230 hits during the regular season, but went 0-for-5 last night.
"They always say I'm the catalyst to our offense," Wilson said. "I don't know if that's right. But I do feel very, very bad that I wasn't able to contribute.
"They pitched to me good. They did a good job. They kept me off base. But I think I learned some things tonight. I'm going to try some new things.
"For one, I might try to bunt more. I haven't been bunting as much as I should. And I'll be hitting from the right side, my natural side, and I should be able to lay off the bad pitches."
FOR AWHILE last night, it seemed the Royals would have gotten by without the bats of Wilson or Aikens or anybody else. But starting pitcher Dennis Leonard allowed his four-run lead to disappear when he allowed five runs – including Bake McBride's three-run homer – in the third inning.
"I had to come in with the fastball and they hit it," Leonard said. "I never really got the ball where I wanted it. When I did make good pitches, they just hit them."
Veterans Stadium crowd gives K.C. royal pain
By Walt Burrows of the Courier-Post
PHILADELPHIA – Tug McGraw praised them. The Royals cursed them.
But the 65,791 fans who packed Veterans Stadium last night played a role in the Philadelphia Phillies' 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
McGraw responded to the chants of the crowd to retire the Royals in order in the ninth. "I love the crowd," he said.
KANSAS CITY Manager Jim Frey and third baseman George Brett both agreed the fans were responsible for a crucial run in the Phils' five-run third inning.
Bob Boone was on second after driving in the Phils' first run when Lonnie Smith singled to left. Boone reached third on the play, but Smith took a wide turn at first, slipped, and was caught in a rundown.
Brett, after taking the throw from left fielder Willie Wilson, cut across the diamond toward Smith as Boone edged toward the plate.
Kansas City pitcher Dennis Leonard yelled "Home! Home!" to Brett, but the Royals' third baseman continued to chase Smith, who was finally retired in the rundown as Boone crossed the plate.
"I DON'T think I took that long to decide what to do with the ball," said Brett in defense of his move. "Dennis was' hollering, but with 65,000 people screaming in your ear it's pretty difficult to hear anything."
Frey agreed that the fans were responsible for the run.
"In a normal game, you can hear your teammates yelling," said Frey. "But you couldn't hear anything out there. I thought White made the right play in chasing Smith back toward Aikens."
"The run we let in killed us," said Wilson. "We came in here hoping for a split and that is still possible. We know Steve Carlton is going tomorrow and he's a helluva pitcher, but we can't let his name or his stats psyche us out."
CENTER FIELDER Amos Otis remembered the last time he faced Carlton. "It was in '69," Otis recalled. "I had a powerful night against him – I went 0-for-5.
"He throws a lot like Ron Guidry. His fast ball tails away and he has a good curve. We're not concerned; we'll just go out and play our game. We've come too far this year to throw in the towel now."
SERIES NOTES – The winner of the first World Series game has gone on to capture the world championship 45 times in 76 previous World Series... Bake McBride's home run in the third inning was only the second by a Pbillie in World Series competition... The other was hit in Game Five back in 1915 by Fred Luderus, a first baseman.
Last night's victory was the first in a World Series for the Phillies since Oct. 8, 1915 when Grover Cleveland Alexander defeated Boston's Ernie Shore, 3-1... The Phils have come from behind to win all four of their post-season victories, but their biggest deficit was last night's 4-0 K.C. lead... Tug McGraw has pitched in all six of the Phillies' post-season games.
The 1980 League Championship Series' telecasts established prime time records last week, when they were watched by an estimated 120 million people, the largest TV audience ever for a playoff series.
Willie Mays Aikens became only (be third player in history to hit two home runs in his first World Series game... The others were Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski in 1959 and Oakland's Gene Tenace in 1972.
Phillies-Astros N.L. playoff series broke television records
NEW YORK (AP) – Sunday night's wild National League championship final on ABC was the highest rated baseball playoff game in history and the highest rated telecast for last week, figures announced by the network indicated yesterday.
The Phillies' 8-7, 10-inning, fifth-game victory over Houston scored a 27.8 rating (percent watching of all sets) and a 44 share (percent watching of sets in use). ABC research estimated that 60 million people saw some or all of the game that sent the Phillies into the World Series against Kansas City.
The five prime time playoff broadcasts, including three NL games and two for the American League series between Kansas City and New York, also set a ratings record. The average was a 22.7 rating and a 38 share; beating the average rating from four prime time games in 1978, when ABC logged a 21.8.
ABC also estimated that 120 million people watched some of the 1980 playoffs, including the three daytime broadcasts.
Senators put big ‘steaks’ on Series
WASHINGTON (AP) – Republican Senators John Heinz of Pennsylvania and Bob Dole of Kansas made a pretzels-and-steak wager on the World Series yesterday.
Dole put up the big "steaks" – 25 pounds of Kansas beef in hopes of a Kansas City Royals victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
For his part of the bargain, Heinz bet 25 pounds of Philadelphia pretzels.
"Bob Dole will be waiting until the cows come home if he thinks the Royals can defeat the Phillies," Heinz said.
"I'm so confident in a Phillies' victory that I'll up the 'steaks' and throw in the mustard to go with those famous Philadelphia pretzels," Heinz said.