Chicago Tribune - October 15, 1980
Walk Survives and Phillies thrive
By Robert Markus, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – Chances are you'll never find Bob Walk's name in a Book of Lists under the category: Ten Best World Series pitching performances.
But no pitcher did more for a team that the rookie right hander did for the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night. Sent out as a sacrificial lamb while the National League champions got their weary pitching staff back in shape, Walk muddled through to a 7-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals that changed the complexion of the series.
Now the Phillies, who had not won a World Series game in 65 years, have a 1-0 lead and Steve Carlton, the best pitcher in baseball, ready to take the mound in Game Two Wednesday night.
Walk staggered around like a drunk in a mine field for seven innings. The Royals triggered three bombs off him, a pair of two-run homers by Willie Aikens and one by Amos Otis.
THEY WOULD HAVE had him out of the game in the third had not catcher Darrell Porter run timidly into a roadblock at home plate on Clint Hurdle's two-out single.
Phils' Manager Dallas Green said he would not like to say that Walk would have been yanked had Porter either scored or remained at third, "because he's sitting right here next to me, but I win say he was one out from coming with me to the bench.
"He's calling himself Boom-Boom right now, but he kept us in the ball game."
Green seemed incensed at the notion that his choice of Walk, the first rookie to start a World Series game since Joe Black of the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Yankees in 1952, was conceding the first game to the Royals.
"We don't ever go out to lose a game," he barked. "I did win 11 games this year," said Walk in his own defense.
It didn't look as if he would win this one, however.
FOR THE FIRST 2½ innings the World Series opener looked like a rerun of the Holmes-Ali fight. The Royals were throwing combinations; the Phils weren't even fighting back.
Otis had hit his homer with Porter on base in the second inning to give the American League champions a quick 2-0 lead. It was the 16th time in history a player had hit a homer in his first World Series at bat.
Aikens, who also entered the record book by becoming the third player to hit two homers in his first Series game, launched his first rocket in the third with Hal McRae aboard and two out. A walk to Porter and consecutive singles byiOtis and Hurdle should have finished Walk.
But Lonnie Smith came up with the throw of his life from left field, and Porter did not endear himself to his manager when he tip-toed to the plate.
"I saw him stumble," said Manager Jim Frey, "and I don't know if that kept him from scoring or not. But you don't like to see a guy come into the plate and just stop and let them tag him; I'd prefer he slide in."
"Truthfully," said Porter, "I never expected the ball to get there as quickly as it did. I tripped over third base and lost my momentum."
SO, IT TURNED out, did the Royals. Porter's failure to score seemed of little consequence at the time. The Royals were looking as good as advertised, and the Phils were looking as if they were merely marking time until they could trundle Carlton out to he mound on Wednesday.
Suddenly, the climate changed drastically, as on a spring day in Chicago. Before the third inning was over, Walk, who should have been taking a lonely shower, was projected into the role of winning pitcher.
The Phillies battered Royals' starter Dennis Leonard for five runs in the inning to take a 5-4 lead. The rally was climaxed by Bake McBride's three-run homer, but the Phillies agreed that the man who turned the game around was Pete Rose. He did it without swinging the bat.
Two runs already were home, but there were two out after a bizarre play in which George Brett let catcher Bob Boone score unmolested from third while he started a rundown on a runner at first.
THERE WERE TWO strikes on Rose when the crafty first baseman maneuvered his knee in front of an inside fastball. "The key was when they hit Pete in the knee," said Green. "When Rose gets on base he always stirs us up."
"He got himself and us fired up," said reliever Tug McGraw, who eventually had to rescue Walk. "When he got hit, I thought it was the green light and time to go get it.
Now, the storm clouds were really gathering around Leonard who, according to catcher Porter, "didn't have his usual location. Quite frankly, it wasn't one of his better days."
LEONARD WALKED SCHMIDT before McBride hit the Phils only homer, to bring a record stadium crowd of 65,791 victory-starved fanatics to its feet.
The Phils drove Leonard out of the game in the fourth on Boone's second consecutive double and second RBI, got another in the fifth off Renie Martin, and needed it.
Because Brett, hitless his first three times up, led off the Royals' eighth with a double, and Aikens followed with his second homer. "I knew he had to come in with a fast one," said Willie, "and I readily pounced on it."
Green reluctantly pounced on the notion that he had gotten all he was going to get from Walk. In came McGraw for the sixth game in a row.
The left hander had been the best reliever in the National league down the stretch but appeared to be tired in his last appearance against the Astros.
McGraw was having none of that talk after polishing off the Royals in the last two innings molested only by Otis' third hit of the night. He struck out the last two batters in the game.
"My strongest desire is to prove Howard Cosell wrong," said McGraw. "Howard said by going to the well once too often we would lose. I condition myself to go this way. The job out of the pen is to be called upon at any time."
For Bob Walk, the job was to be called on at this one particular time. If he never pitches again in this Series – and he probably won't – he has left his mark.
Porter dances Royals out of ballgame
By David Israel, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – It was a tittle nothing play; a couple of replays, one freeze frame, and see you later, America. With the bombs blasting in air, and all those home runs sailing over the fence, it was a forgotten incident, a border skirmish in the war that is this World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the Philadelphia Phillies. Sure, it did not seem like much when it occurred in the third inning, but if the Phillies parlay their 7-6 victory in the opening game into a tournament triumph that makes all of Dallas Green's gambles pay off, that play might only have been the one on which the entire Series turned.
Two Royals were out, and Kansas City was feeling pretty comfortable with a 4-0 lead after homers by Amos Otis and Willie Mays Aikens. Bob Walk – the Phils' rookie starting pitcher; Green's longshot play – was wondering if he would not be safer back at Mike's Texaco Station in Newhall, Cal., where he was pumping gas and changing oil a year ago.
DARRELL PORTER WAS on second. Otis was on first. Clint Hurdle singled sharply to left field. Lonnie Smith fielded the ball cleanly. He came up throwing. All of a sudden, he was Carl Furillo, shooting baseballs out of a bazooka. Smith, the man who threw the ball behind his back in Houston the other night pegged perfectly on a line to home. This was going to be post-season baseball at its best. A terrific collision at home plate. Porter, the Kansas City catcher, smacking into Bob Boone, the Philadelphia catcher, il was going to set up a dramatic tension that would last as long as this Series.
Then Darrell Porter, who was doing a freight train when he came to the turn at third base, made like Nijinsky dancing "Scheherazade" in Moscow as he approached home. He should have been wearing tights and toe shoes instead of doubleknits and spikes. He excused himself, Boone stepped aside and slapped a little tag on Porter's belly, and everyone retired to the wings while the stage hands changed the set. The inning was over, the fire was out of the Royals. Bob Walk had weathered the storm.
"HE WAS ONE MAN away from coming with me back to to bench," Green said later of Walk.
One man would have meant Porter scoring, Otis on third, Hurdle on first, the Royals leading 5-0, Dickie Noles marching in from the Phils' bullpen, Philadelphia on the run.
Instead, it was 4-0, the Phillies about to score five runs to turn around the game, and Walk ready to retire 12 of the 13 Phillies he faced from the fourth through the seventh innings.
Darrell Porter excused himself, and the complexion of the World Series changed.
"I had no idea where the ball was," Porter said. "I slipped coming around third. My thoughts were to slide. But I couldn't get the right leg out to slide on. The reason I didn't slide was I might have killed myself if I slid. But if I could have slid, I would have been safe."
It is not enough for Darrell Porter to say he was trying to avoid injury. It is not enough for others to say it was obvious he was out. This is not Florida in March. This is not spring training. This is the World Series. You are supposed to kill yourself. You are supposed to play like this is the biggest thing in your life. Other people know that. Other people admitted that Tuesday night.
"I PROBABLY WOULD have run right into him," said Hal McRae, the Royals' designated hitter. "He is going to have to make the tag. I'm going to make him make the play. Boone was going to roll. He wasn't going to get pounded."
"Yeah, that might have psyched them up a little bit," said Amos Otis, the Royals' center fielder and a cautious teammate who did not want to say that he does not think baseball is a place for a pas de deux.
In the Phillies' clubhouse, there was the world's leading expert on collisions at home plate. Pete Rose was drinking a Coke when he was asked about the collision that wasn't. Pete Rose once knocked Ray Fosse into the cheap seats during an exhibition called the All-Star Game. Just the other day Pete Rose creamed a Houston catcher, Bruce Bouchy, who was blocking the plate without the ball. But now Pete Rose smiled and tried to be kind.
"It's a rough position for a baserunner," Rose said. "Your first reaction is to be disgusted because you're out so much, out so easy. But you might want to do something besides slow up and come in standing up."
Darrell Porter didn't, and the game turned.
DOWN FOUR RUNS, with one out in the bottom of the third, Larry Bowa stole second on his own.
"I figured I had to get something started," Bowa said. "But if I got thrown out then, I should have just kept running."
Two Phil runs and no outs later, Rose managed to get Dennis Leonard, the Kansas City starter, to hit him with a pitch.
"I didn't exactly try to get out of the way," Rose said. "I knew it wasn't going to hurt."
Rose sprinted to first, and then danced off the base and drew a throw from Leonard, who should have been concentrating on pitching to Mike Schmidt. Rose started motioning and yelling at Leonard. The crowd roared.
"I'm not stealin' no base," Rose told Leonard. "You better worry about the guy up there. He can tie this up with one swing."
"The key was when Pete Rose got hit in the knee," Green said. "Pete doesn't have to get a hit to juice us up."
While the Royals were scoring all their runs on homers, the Phils were playing like KC has. They were playing disconcerting baseball – running at curious times, hustling on defense, scratching runs, and hoping for one big blast.
After Schmidt walked, Bake McBride hit that homer. In the forth and fifth, a couple of more runs were scratched to insure the victory.
On the night that Darrell Porter did Nijinsky when he should have been doing Audie Murphy, the Philadelphia Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the 77th World Series because they were willing to kill themselves.
K.C.’s other Brett shares heat and fun
By Bob Verdi, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – And the other Brett is Ken, a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, his 11th team in 14 years.
With that kind of itinerary, a man could lose his sense of humor. But not this man. During the weekend, after the Royals had secured their pennant, and while the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros were still bickering over theirs, a fellow asked Ken Brett which National League team Kansas City would like to face in the World Series.
"Easy," said Ken Brett. "The Cubs."
During September, when brother George was being badgered at every turn as he sought to become a .400 hitter, Ken did his bit to keep peace in the family.
"Before and after games, George was hassled for interviews," recalled Ken. "We look a lot alike, so one time I figured I'd take some of the pressure off. I was stretched out one night near his locker and a guy comes up and jams a tape recorder in front of me. 'George,' he says, 'are you going to be able to do it?'
"NATURALLY, I COULDN'T resist. I must have talked for 8 or 10 minutes on how I was starting to really get nervous about the whole thing. I didn't say anything that would have embarrassed George, but I was pretty good. I never heard it, but it had to be on the radio the next day. Wouldn't you do that for a brother you love?
"Then, on one of our last road trips, George was really mentally tired from the whole scene, so we had it all figured out for a game in Seattle. We were going to switch identities. He'd wear my jersey. Meanwhile, I'd put his jersey on, sit at his locker before the game, chewing tobacco, manicuring all my bats, posing for pictures, and handling all the interviews. For one reason or another, though, we backed off. It didn't work out."
FORTUNATELY FOR KEN BRETT, one of baseball's good people, everything else couldn't have worked out better than it has. Talk about rags to riches. In July, he was an athlete nobody wanted, lying on a California beach contemplating his navel after having been released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, his 10th team, in spring training.
He had pitched well enough for the Dodgers last year, but during a Florida exercise in March, his left elbow blew up like a balloon. He had had a "dust and clean" operation to remove chips earlier in his career, but every ball he threw thereafter deluded him into thinking that it would never happen again.
"As it turns out, I couldn't move the arm for a week," Ken said. "And after another week, I was gone. I was injured, I admit that, but the way the Dodgers got rid of me was wrong. I went back home to California depressed and ready to quit. As many times as I've been traded or released, you'd think it wouldn't affect you. But it does.
"Even the year the White Sox sent me to the Angels, I was glad to be going home, but, still, there's that feeling you're not wanted. Not a good feeling for anybody, and that includes ballplayers."
AFTER THREE MONTHS of idleness and confusion, Ken Brett discovered that the only career he wanted at the time was the one he had left. Other jobs were available, but none appealed to him like baseball, and at 32, he started working out again with a local high school team.
"I looked in the papers and saw the box scores," he recalled. "I knew there were guys in the major leagues who couldn't do what I could do. So I gave it one last shot. There weren't many places I wanted to play, but of course, Kansas City was one. I like the city, I felt they had a need for a left hander in the bullpen, and, naturally, I loved the idea of playing with George."
The Royals signed Ken for their minor-league farm team in Omaha, liked the way he threw, then promoted him to the big club in late August.
HE DIDN'T PITCH OFTEN, but he did pitch well, allowing no earned runs in 13⅓ innings. The theory that Ken Brett had been hired by the Royals just to keep George company was pretty much dispelled, although the idea surfaces every so often.
"Some guy suggested that the other day, and I almost punched him in the mouth," said Ken. "First of all, if the Royals didn't think I could still pitch, they wouldn't have brought me up so I could be eligible for the playoffs and now for the World Series. Second of all, George doesn't need anybody to hold his hand.
"He handled the whole thing great. He didn't need big brother around. There were times when he wanted to go out but couldn't hide. So, after night games in Kansas City, we'd just drive out to where he lives – 30 miles from the ballpark, tight security, no neighbors bugging him. The same guy who asked me the other dumb question asked me if I was jealous of George. Heck, I'm happy for him."
THERE IS AN UNCOMMON bond between the Brothers Brett, bachelors both. It started when they were kids and George idolized Ken, considered then the best athlete in an extremely coordinated family. Even now, as they prepare for what is supposed to be the pressurized atmosphere of the World Series, they do what they do best. Laugh.
They are as different as they are inseparable, and before Ken left his hotel room Tuesday morning to visit an art museum, he knocked on George's door across the hall to check signals.
"Hmm," said Kenny, looking around George's topsy-turvy quarters. "You must have had a good night."
"I did," said George. "You were with me, don't you remember?"
Ken Brett, as a Boston Red Sox in 1967, was the youngest pitcher in World Series history. Years later, he pitched for the Phillies and homered in four straight appearances, another record. Now, he's back in a game he loves, with a brother he loves. Some stories in sports end happily ever after, after all.
Willie Mays Aikens a natural-born star
By Bob Verdi, Chicago Tribune Press Service
PHILADELPHIA – His mother had a sense of loyalty, so she named him Willie after his uncle. His doctor liked baseball, so he threw in Mays for obvious reasons. Even the timing was perfect, because Willie Mays was just about making his circus catch against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series.
Willie Mays Aikens. There. It was such a natural and so, as it turns out, was Willie Mays Aikens.
On his 26th birthday Tuesday night, Willie Mays Aikens made a little bit of history. He hit two home runs in his first World Series game. Only two other players did that before – Ted Kluszewski of the White Sox did it first in 1959 and it wasn't his birthday. Gene Tenace of the Oakland A's did it most recently in 1972. And it wasn't Tenace's birthday, either.
"Yeah, but I wonder if he won the ballgame," said Aikens after the Philadelphia Phillies made him and the Kansas, City Royals eat cake 7-6 in Game One of the 1980 Series. "If he did [he did], he feels better than I do. But I really can't be worried. I'm disappointed nat we didn't win this game, but we aren't gonna forget what we came here for. We came here to be champions of the world. We can still be that."
THE CHAMPIONS of the American League got a head start in this one. A 4-0 head start. After Amos Otis' two-run homer made it 2-0 in the second inning, Aikens doubled the Royals' pleasure in the third inning.
Then, after the Phillies apparently put the game away, Aikens almost took it back with another two-run shot in the eighth to narrow Kansas City's problem to 7-6. Both home runs came off Bob Walk, a right hander who decided he had his own ideas about how to pitch the Royals' second best hitter.
"I was a little surprised," said Aikens, a left-handed thumper who hit 20 homers during the regular season. "Most of the right handers I face in the American League try to keep the ball outside on me. He Walk was busting it in on me from the beginning.
"The first home run, I hit off a fastball. I skied it. I didn't know whether it was going out. The second was off the end of my bat. I hit it good, but didn't know whether that was going out, either. The ball seems to carry good in this ballpark, though. I noticed that in batting practice. Usually, when I hit the ball OK before the game, I don't hit it so well during the game. I hoped and prayed last night, that because.it was my first World Series and all, and my birthday on top of it,. that I could at least hit the ball hard. I'm lucky."
LUCKY IN MORE WAYS than one. A year ago, Willie Mays Aikens was a member of the California Angels. It seems that he was destined for the New York Mets, but minutes before the deal was consummated it was killed.
"The lady Joan Payson who owned! the Mets was just about to sell," said Aikens. "And she didn't want to have any trades made at that time. The Mets have some good young players, but they're a pretty mediocre club. I know one thing. If the trade had gone through, I wouldn't be here tonight."
Instead, Aikens was dealt to the Royals in December along with Ranee Mul-liniks in exchange for Al Cowens, Craig Eaton and Todd Cruz, a White Sox shortstop to be named later. The deal was somewhat of a bonanza for Kansas City, because Aikens accumulated 102 RBI.
"They used to say that I had trouble hitting left handers," says Aikens. "Well, we just faced maybe the three best in the American League in our series against the Yankees. Tomorrow night, I guess we'll face the best one in this league Philadelphia's Steve Carlton. But I played against the Yankees, and I figure I'll play against Carlton, too. I'm over that. I may not bat cleanup like I did tonight, but I'll play."
Aikens claimed that defeat would not spoil his birthday celebrations. There would be beer and pastry for him somewhere late Tuesday night.
"We lose one game, that's one thing," he said. "I wouldn't like to lose the first two here, though."
Some of the Royals have expressed the feeling that they won the World Series in New York last weekend.
"That's not true," said Clint Hurdle. "Sure there was more pressure there because if we had lost to them a fourth straight time, some heads would have rolled. But we did it right. We gloated for a day, and we floated for a day. Now we're here to do a job."
Willie Mays Aikens at least did a job Tuesday night. His mother, doctor, and Willie Mays should be proud.
"Was I born before or after Willie Mays made that great catch?" he said. "1 don't know. I don't remember. I was too young."
World Series Notes
From Tribune Wire Services
Sox pitchers interest Pirates
COULD IT BE that the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in some of the White Sox's left-handed pitching? Manager Chuck Tanner and General Manager Harding Peterson are making discreet inquiries about Guy Hoffman and Ken Kravec. Both seemed impressed when they found out Hoffman had struck out 24 in 37 innings.
It’s a living THE PHILLIE Phanatic, the oddly dressed mascot of the Phillies, in real life is David Raymond, son of Delaware football coach Tubby Raymond. "We're very proud of him," says Tubby, "even if we do call him “The Green Transvestite' and 'My Son, the Misfit.’”
Just in time
THE WORLD SERIES headquarters hotel, the Franklin Plaza, has only been open a week, and several floors are still under construction and unfit for occupancy. Under the circumstances, the hotel was doing an amazing job of hosting a major event. Some things, like phone books, reading lamps, and wastebaskets, were still being delivered when the visitors started arriving.
Michael Broadhurst, resident manager of the hotel, said without the Series, "a lot of our rooms would be empty." But with a full house, he said, the hotel would reap about $200,000 from room and board.
Many other hotels, however, already were booked with convention business and aren't gaining the extra rewards.
"I wish the World Series would be in November," said Herman Wiener, general manager of the Fairmont Hotel.
THIS IS THE first time two rookie managers have appeared in the World Series. The last rookie manager in the Series was the Dodgers' Tom Lasorda in 1977. The last rookie winner was Ralph Houk in 1961.
Phillie third base coach Lee Elia, who .formerly played for both the Cubs and Sox, points out that he and his counterpart on the Royals, Gordy MacKenzie, managed against each other last year in the American Association West Division, Elia at Oklahoma City and MacKenzie at Omaha. Elia won the division by 7½ games over MacKenzie.
THE PHILLIES have been in three World Series in their history, each in a different park. The 1915 team played in Baker Bowl, the 1950 team in Connie Mack Stadium, and the 1980 team in Veterans Stadium. Another Series first: This is the first World Series between two cities that lost the Athletics.