Chicago Tribune - October 20, 1980
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mike Schmidt powered a two-run homer, then singled to trigger a ninth-inning Philadelphia rally that brought the Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Sunday's fifth World Series game. The victory, after two straight losses, sent the Phillies home for Tuesday night’s sixth game with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven game Series.
Unser, Trillo put Phils in command
By Dave Nightingale, Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Del Unser, a knock-about veteran of 13 major league seasons, came off the bench for the third time in eight days to inject fuel into an idling Philadelphia Phillie engine Sunday.
And the Kansas City Royals, a mere three outs from taking command of the 1980 World Series, took the gaspipe.
Unser's ninth-inning double tied the score and Manny Trillo's single sent Del home with the winning run in a 4-3 Phillie victory.
It also sent the National League champions flying home with a three-games-to-two Series lead, back to Philadelphia where a well-rested Steve Carlton and Dick Ruthven and 65,000 intimidating fans are ready to apply the clincher.
"Going Into any city and having to win two straight games is difficult," Unser said with a smile. "And for Kansas City, it will be even tougher because we have. Lefty [Tuesday's starting pitcher] and Rufus [Wednesday's starter, if necessary] waiting for them."
LEFTY AND RUFUS might have had to battle for survival instead of laurels, however, had not the Royals adopted a course of self-destruction Sunday.
Kansas City third base coach Gordy MacKenzie sent base runner Darrell Porter headlong into a sixth-inning death trap.
And Manager Jim Frey let seldom-used Jose Cardenal bat for himself in the ninth with the bases loaded, two out, and the Royals one run down.
Tug McGraw struck out Cardinal, leaving the former Cub to issue the following philosophical statement: "Either I be a hero or bum. I be a bum today."
KANSAS CITY was ahead 3-2 going into the ninth, courtesy of a homer by Amos Otis, the Series' hottest hitter, in the sixth inning; a sacrifice fly by U.L Washington, and three defensive gems by second baseman Frank White [each of which cost the Phillies a run].
But Mike Schmidt, whose homer accounted for Philadelphia's first two runs, led off the ninth against reliever Dan Quisenberry with a single off George Brett's glove.
And along came Unser, batting for Lonnit Smith.
A week ago in Houston, in the fifth game of the National League Championship Series, Unser contributed a game-tying single in the eighth, then led off the 10th with a double and scored the winning run in the Phillies' 8-7 victory over the Astros.
Wednesday in Philadelphia, with Philadelphia behind 4-2 in the second Series game, Unser doubled home the first of four runs in an eighth-inning rally against Quisenberry, and then scored the tying run.
Now it was encore time.
"I HIT A BALL as well is I can hit it," said Unser. "It went right down the first-base line and about two or three inches over Willie Aikens' glove. He didn't have time to react."
By the time the ball finished rattling around in the right-field corner, Schmidt was home with the tying run and Unser was perched on second. Unser then moved to third on Keith Moreland's bunt, but had to hold the bag when Garry Maddox bounced out.
And along came Trillo, who had a two-run triple in the playoff finale at Houston.
"He Quisenberry throw me two fast balls, then a slider, and I hit it right off the end of my bat and up the middle," said Trillo.
The ball ricocheted off Quisenberry's glove and bare hand toward Brett, who couldn't throw out Trillo – as Unser scooted home with the go-ahead run.
THE ROYALS WEREN'T dead yet, thanks to the wildness of McGraw, the top gun in the Phillies' relief corps.
"I guess I was overthrowing the ball a little, and I had some control troubles," said McGraw, who issued a leadoff walk to White and a one-out walk to Aikens.
Hal McRae was next and he sent a long fly down the left-field line that curved foul at the last moment.
"I couldn't pick up the spin on Hal's ball; I was scared to death it was in the seats for a three-run homer that would have won the game," said McGraw.
"Aw, I knew it was foul all the way," said Philadelphia catcher Bob Boone, who then went but to the mound and said to McGraw: "Exciting, isn't it?"
McRAE EVENTUALLY forced Onix Concepcion, who was running for Aikens, to leave runners at the corners with two out.
And along came Otis, hitting a mere .550 [11-for-20] in the Series.
"We had to be real careful with Amos," said McGraw, dusting off his understatement of the day.
"I didn't want to walk Otis on purpose, because that would put the winning run in scoring position," said Philadelphia Manager Dallas Green. "But we sure didn't want to give him anything to hit. Because, with all due respect to Cardenal, Jose just hasn't had the kind of Series that Otis has had."
But would Cardenal bat? Or would Frey go to John Wathan?
"I FELT LIKE Cardenal knew McGraw better than Wathan did," said Frey. "Besides, I remembered what happened to Wathan when he had to hit against McGraw in Philadelphia."
Wathan hit into a double play against McGraw to kill a rally in Game 1. He struck out against McGraw to end Game 2.
Cardenal didn't improve on the most recent Wathan script.
As in most baseball contests, the outcome shouldn't have been on the line in the final inning. The Royals [who stranded 13 runners] had ample opportunity to blow things open early against Phillie starter Marty Bystrom. Despite a postgame coverup by Green, Bystrom simply was awful.
Porter opened the Kansas City third with a single, his first hit in 11 Series at-bats, and Washington followed with a bunt single when Trillo failed to cover first, his fourth hit in 17 tries.
BUT WILSON, an accomplished bunter, was allowed to swing away. And Willie, White, and Brett retired quietly without advancing a runner. "I didn't have Wilson bunt because, with his speed, I don't expect him to hit into a double play," Frey explained.
The crusty Kansas City manager will have to spend the winter explaining away his team's sixth-inning sins, however.
Otis opened the sixth with a 400-foot homer to left, tying the score at 2. Clint Hurdle and Porter followed with singles, the 9th and 10th hits off Bystrom. Ron Reed was' summoned, only to be greeted by Washington's sacrifice fly that scored Hurdle and a smash by Wilson that hit the base of the right-field fence beyond Bake McBride's reach.
"I was surprised to see Porter was only stepping on second when the ball hit the fence," said Trillo, the cutoff man in the Phils' relay network. "I was surprised to see Porter was just going to third when Bake hit me with the relay throw."
AND 42.369 CUSTOMERS were surprised to see MacKenzie, the third-base coach, giving Porter the "go" sign. Trillo's throw beat the Royals catcher by five feet to end the inning.
Phillies’ hero Unser knows adversity well
By Bob Verdi, Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Philadelphia Phillies long have been detested for their overbearing arrogance, their princely lifestyle, and their whimpering ways.
As more than one opponent theorized, however, it was difficult to hate their guts. You couldn't, after all, hate something they didn't have.
But the new Philadelphia Phillies, the Phillies who beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Sunday to move within one victory of a World Series title, are different. Arrogant still, maybe. But gutless, definitely not.
"Innards," Manager Dallas Green says. "My team now has innards."
In seasons past, when the Phillies trailed late in a game, they reached for their Aqua Velva and made dinner reservations at someplace fancy. There's always tomorrow, they reasoned like spineless lemmings. It's as though they would give up trying for Lent, then keep their vow all summer.
THE WORMS, HOWEVER, have turned. The Phillies trailed the Montreal Expos by a run with two out in the ninth inning a couple weeks ago, then rallied to win the National League East Division crown that night. The Phillies trailed the Houston Astros in the first, fourth, and fifth games of the National League playoff, but won all three of those games and won the pennant. The Phillies have trailed in the first, second, and fifth games of this World Series and have won all three. Innards, indeed.
"Seven straight," says pitcher Tug McGraw. "One more, and we drink champagne. One more, and we'll be on "That's Incredible.’”
Not so incredible is that the Phillies' string of remarkable resurrections against some of the best teams in baseball commenced against possibly the worst team in baseball. That’s right. The team with teddy bears on their sleeves.
"Late September," Del Unser recalls. "The Cubs are leading us 5-3 in the 15th inning at Philadelphia. We beat them 6-5 after two out. We don't win that one, we may not make it any further. After that night, we knew we could overcome adversity. Any kind."
DEL UNSER KNOWS adversity well. The Decatur, Ill., native broke in with the Washington Senators in 1966. Strike one. Later, he played with the New York Mets. Strike two. Later he tried the free-agent market after batting .196 for the Montreal Expos. Strike three.
"After that year, two years ago, I figured it might be all over," says Unser, 35. "Teams didn't exactly pound on my door to sign me. I thought about still playing, but didn't know whether anybody wanted me. I always liked Philadelphia from the time I played there in 1973 and 1974. So, I was out at a racquetball tournament in Las Vegas one day when I called [Phillie General Manager] Paul Owens. They had just signed Pete Rose and were trying to trade Richie Hebner. Paul told me if things worked out, I could come to spring training and back up Pete at first base."
Things worked out. Unser rejoined the Phillies last year and fit them like a glove. He batted .306 in the pinch, and, during one streak, had three consecutive home runs. But last year, the Phillies not only didn't come from behind much, they didn't stay ahead much.
"This year, Dallas has used us all," Unser says. "And the more you come off the bench, the more you get a feeling that you're part of things, the better a job you can do. No longer are the Phillies eight starters at eight positions and four starting pitchers. We're all in this together."
SUNDAY, THE PHILLIES were trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning. Mike Schmidt singled off George Brett's glove at third for openers, and then Unser batted for Lonnie Smith against Dan Quisenberry, who came in too early, stayed too long, and has been used too much by Kansas City Manager Jim Frey, who has been the second-best manager in this Series.
Unser ripped a double just out of first baseman Willie Aikens' reach to score Schmidt. Minutes later, when Manny Trillo played ricochet romance wilh a single off Quisenberry, Unser scored the go-ahead run. Minutes later, it was the winning run. The clutch hit was not unlike the one that Unser nailed during the Phillies' eighth-inning rally in the pennant clincher a week ago in Houston. And, not unlike the one he got during the Phillies' eighth-inning rally in Game 2 of this tournament Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
"He's unreal," says Green. "That's the word for him. He didn't get many at-bats  during the season. I'm sure he'd rather get his four a game. But that's not his role, and he knows it and accepts it. I'm not afraid to use him."
As it is, whenever Green yells "Del" in the dugout for Del Unser or "Greg" for Greg Gross, a cheer arises. Remember, these are the same Phillies who used to cheer only for payday. But now, the more Unser and Gross and their ilk make things happen, the more the Phillies think it will keep happening. And because Green is using all his men, while Frey is using only some of his men, that feeling is likely to persist for the Phillies, win or lose.
"FOR A WHILE, because of all we've been through, this World Series seemed a little anti-climactic for me," says Unser. "We had an unbelievably tough time just getting here, but maybe that's why we're surviving.
"Now it's getting more and more interesting and I know I'm getting more involved. Like today, I was watching and watching Quisenberry and considering all the possibilities. You put some things out of your mind, like what you know he wont throw you. Then you study the things that might happen. We've seen a lot of him this Series, and seen a lot of Kent Tekulve of Pittsburgh. A lot of similarities. I got a big hit off him, Tekulve in September, and I'm lucky to get a big hit off this guy today.
"I feel pretty good about things now. We're so close. We need one win, we've got two tries, we're going home, and we have the big guy Steve Carlton going for us Tuesday night. I just hope he shows the world how he can really pitch. He's the big guy who got us here."
He and a lot of little guys like Del Unser.
Destiny called, but for once George Brett was unable to answer
By David Israel, Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In a game for romantics, it was a great notion, a piece out of an implausible baseball novel written by John R. Tunis or Clair Bee. It was the bottom of the ninth inning of the pivotal World Series game, no one was out, a runner was on first base, the hometown nine was trailing by one run, and George Brett Chip Hilton taking a pay check, Middle America's Frank Merrrwell was coming to bat.
In the season when he hit .390, in a season when Mighty George always captured the dramatic moment, always froze , the perfectly righteous accomplishment in time, this was destiny about to be fulfilled. If ever there was a time for George Brett to hit an important home run, this was it. If ever there was a man to hit an important home run, it was George Brett in 1980.
To be sure, Tug McGraw, a pitcher nearly inviolate in the last six weeks, was on the mound, but that did not matter now. What mattered was that George Brett was going to hit a home run every bit as majestic and meaningful as the one that swept into the third deck of Yankee Stadium and signaled victory in the American League Championship Series.
A HOME RUN HERE and victory in this 77th World Series would virtually be assured for George Brett's team, the Kansas City Royals. A home run on this Sunday, in this final game of 1980 in Royals Stadium, would mean a 5-4 victory for Kansas City. It would mean a 3-2 advantage in this hardball Octoberfest for the Royals. It would mean so much. Twenty-eight times before this afternoon, the Series had been tied after four games, and 20 times the team that had won the fifth game had won the tournament.
Of all the times he had ever come to bat, this was the one made especially for George Brett, this was the one that would be recorded in the archives. This was when Brett would be remembered as Carlton Fisk feverishly urging the ball to stay fair in Fenway Park or Babe Ruth calling his Shot.
There was but one problem. In the season of 1980, this was the day that George Brett came to earth.
All season, the spectacular had been routine for George Brett; afield, at bat, there was no difference.
But this afternoon, there was. In the eighth inning, he committed an error that might well have been costly had Dan Quisenberry not met an enervating test. In the ninth inning, he failed to execute the remarkable diving stop he had made look so easy for so long, and, in the end, two runs were posted on the other team's ledger.
AT BAT, HE HAD BEEN frustrated all day. He made good on just one of five opportunities – in the first inning, he singled with two outs and no one on. In the third he grounded out with two outs and runners on first and second. In the fifth, he grounded out again – this time garnering, a run batted in – but tapping the ball inoffensively, considering that runners were on second and third, one man was out, and a moment for heroics was at hand. In the seventh, he led off the inning with a strikeout. And in the bottom of the ninth, destiny called.
In the top of the inning, the Philadelphia Phillies, adversaries of the hometown nine, had scored two runs to take a 4-3 lead. The rally began to take shape when Mike Schmidt, leading off, smashed a pitch from Quisenberry at Brett. George was playing in and guarding the line, a most disadvantageous position for a third baseman to be in against a right-handed power hitter, but he had ho choice. He was protecting against a bunt by Schmidt and against an extra base hit into the left field corner.
"When Schmidt's up, you want to play 50 feet past the bag because of his strength," Brett said later. "But before I went out, I asked Jim Frey if he thought Schmidt would bunt, and he told me not to give it to him. I felt the ball bit my glove, but I don't know what happened. I was in five or six feet. It would have been much easier if I was at normal depth. I probably would have gotten it without a dive. But Schmidt had shown us the bunt before, and I had to protect."
SCHMIDT BENEFITTED FROM the dilemma his possession of thunder and lightning posed. And so did the Phillies. Del Unser doubled, Keith Moreland laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Manny Trillo singled, and they had a one-run advantage.
Still, there remained the moment for George Brett to act' heroically. Frank White walked to lead off the ninth, and now a winning run named George' Brett came to bat. Tug McGraw threw him a curve ball and Brett swung and missed. Tug McGraw threw him a fastball and Brett swung and missed.
George Brett does not often swing and miss twice in one game. During a cataclysmic series against the Yankees in July, Brett swung at seven, pitches, hit seven rockets, and five of them were hits.
Now, with an 0-2 count, McGraw knew that logic and statistics were not on his side; he had struck out Brett in the seventh, and the same pitcher does not often strike, out Brett twice in a year, let alone a game.
A game of cat-and-mouse was sure to ensue.
"He showed a good breaking ball the first pitch, a good fastball the second pitch, so I didn't know what to expect," Brett said later. "Dickie Noles threw at my head 0-2. Ninety nine percent of the time, a guy will waste a pitch a fastball in or a fastball away, but not a fastball down the middle."
"I THOUGHT HE'D BE expecting me to waste one," McGraw said later. "I didn't think he'd be looking for a strike in there. I wouldn't want to face Brett all season long; i I'm glad he's in the other league. But I know I wanted to throw the fastball over in that situation."
"I hesitated, and when you hesitate, you're beat," Brett said. "It's instinct, and I just didn't pull the trigger. As soon as I didn't pull the trigger, I knew I was out."
It was a called third strike, and even in Mudville the guy got a chance to swing and miss. Two walks and two outs later, the Phillies had a 4-3 victory and a 3-2 edge in the World Series.
Afterwards, though, George Brett said that he failed to grasp the concept that some destiny had been denied here. Like most romantic heros, he does not understand that he is dealing in some mythic ideal.
"I'll be able to sleep," George Brett said. "There's nothing I can do about it now. It's not going to get me in a bad mood or destroy my confidence. I've taken lots of called third strikes before. That's just another one. You know, I never envisioned myself being in a place like that. I don't dream."
World Series Notes (excerpt)
Chicago Tribune Press Service
KANSAS CITY catcher Darrell Porter finally found the solution to his batting slump – thanks to a 26-year-old usherette. Porter was discussing his 0-for-10 performance prior to Game 5 when teammate Clint Hurdle gave him a bat. "It's from that girl over there behind the dugout," said Hurdle, pointing to Deborah Roche.
"You gave it to me for my birthday," she yelled, "and you've been in a slump ever since." On June 3, when Porter gave Roche the bat, he was hitting .333 with 3 homers and 27 runs batted in. In his post-birthday games, he hit .225 with 4 homers and 24 RBI.
In his first at-bat Sunday with the bat, Porter lined a single to right – but he broke the bat. He finished 2-for-4.
GOODYEAR BLIMP "America" almost became the "Hindenburg" in the first inning when a low-flying private plane nearly collided with it over Int. Hwy. 70, just beyond the left-field wall of Royals Stadium.
The Goodrich hot-air balloon, which had its debut Friday night, was out of service Sunday, but the "America" had to dodge six other balloonists.