Camden Courier Post - October 23, 1980

Area fans honor Phils

 

By Bob Kenney

 

PHILADELPHIA- It has been a stormy love affair at best, but yesterday afternoon baseball's "Comeback Kids" enjoyed some blissful moments with their Philadelphia fans.

 

More than a million cheering fanatics lined the streets to pay tribute to the Phillies, who ended 97 years of frustration Tuesday night by winning a World Series championship.

 

It was fitting that reliever Tug McGraw, a guy who talks to leprechauns, would fire the game-winning strikeout under a full moon.

 

This world championship team took on all comers, from the fans to the manager to the press. Yet it survived to make that long awaited, traditional victory parade down Broad Street.

 

The team that ignored the distractions to come from behind to win six playoff games rode through the city in a caravan of 13 flatbed trucks.

 

The team that spent the summer hiding from the media and blaming the fans for its slumps let its emotions run free as it made the 90-minute trip from center city to Kennedy Stadium.

 

"This is unbelievable," said Bob Boone, the catcher who ignored a painful ankle injury to bat .412 in the six games with Kansas City.

 

"This is the most incredible thing I've ever seen. I guess they had a lot of time practicing."

 

Almost 100 years. Since May 1, 1883, to be exact.

 

No team in the history of professional sports ever waited longer for a championship. The Phillies were the last of the original major league baseball teams to win it all.

 

As losers, the Phillies were in a class by themselves.

 

Phillie teams managed pennants in 1915 and 1950. They lost to Boston in five games after winning the opener. They lost to the Yankees in four straight in '50.

 

In between, the Phillies rested in the National League basement a record 24 seasons, lost 10 straight games at the end of 1964 to blow a 6½ game lead and lost playoffs in 1976, '77 and '78.

 

"All through baseball history," said McGraw, "Philadelphia has had to take a back seat. But today is their day."

 

People climbed light standards, peered from office windows and stood atop automobiles to catch a glimpse of the world champions.

 

"I never saw so many people," said Del Unser, who delivered two clutch pinch-hit doubles in the series. "It was solid people, all the way. I'd say the fewest was about five deep in some places."

 

The players acknowledged the fans in their own way.

 

Pete Rose, in a Phillies tee shirt, waved and yelled as if he was a high school cheerleader.

 

Steve Carlton, the silent pitcher who won 27 games, stood tall, dressed in a three-piece suit. Never smiling, Carlton occasionally raised his finger in a No. 1 sign.

 

The parade moved into Kennedy Stadium and 85,000 fans, on hand since early in the morning, stood and cheered for 12 minutes as the team circled the track.

 

Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburg proclaimed it Phillies' Day in the state. Philadelphia mayor Bill Green toasted the team. Both were booed in true Philadelphia tradition.

 

Owner Ruly Carpenter spoke and needled the fans. "Few people here didn't think we could win," said the DuPont heir. "But here we are."

 

Paul Owens, the general manager who molded the team from scratch, acknowledged the cheers emotionally.

 

"The one thing I promised," said Owens, "was a pennant and a world series. Today you've made it all worthwhile."

 

The Phillies had drawn over two million fans the past five years. They come to the park sometimes to boo, but they come. They treat their team like family. It's okay to boo them, but don't let anybody else boo them.

 

When the team struggled this year, the players felt the frustration of the fans. A mid-season story linked the players with an amphetamine scandal and, even though they were cleared, some carried a scar.

 

Shortstop Larry Bowa suffered the most. He turned on the fans, calling them the worst in baseball after one bitter performance. The fans reacted by booing their favorite shortstop. Bowa reacted by playing well above his norm, leading the team down the stretch.

 

"We had so many low points," said Mike Schmidt, voted the series MVP. "And they all came in front of the world.

 

"Losing three times in the playoffs was hanging over our heads. And that amphetamine thing was like a cancer on the whole team."

 

But they were all forgiven yesterday. The Phillies were the champions of the world. And the fans loved them.

 

"This is the greatest moment in my entire life," said the hyper Bowa. "I'm glad I can share it with the greatest fans in baseball.

 

"I said some things I really didn't mean. They're the greatest and they can brag all they want."

Knock Down Pitch Changed Series

 

By Rusty Pray

 

PHILADELPHIA- At the time, it really didn't seem that important. It was just one pitch among the thousand or so thrown during the six games of the 1980 World Series.

 

But just as surely as the Phillies yesterday paraded down Broad Street as world champions, so that single pitch changed the complexion of the Series and, consequently, altered the course of Philadelphia baseball history.

 

The pitched that changed the World Series was delivered by an unlikely source. It was not one of Tug McGraw's dramatic, bases-loaded strikeout pitches. It wasn't one of Steve Carlton's grabbing, biting sliders.

 

Indeed, it wasn't even a strike.

 

No, the pitch that turned the World Series around came from a young, righthanded reliever named Dickie Noles, who had spent the better part of three months doing little or nothing to advance the Phillies' cause.

 

It came in the fourth inning of Saturday's fourth game in Kansas City. And it came directly at the head of George Brett, he of the .390 batting average.

 

Perhaps had Noles thrown at, say, Frank White, little would have been said. Throwing at a hitter is a common enough practice. Batters know the brushback pitch is as much an occupational hazard as spike wounds. Why do you think helmets with ear flaps are standard dress? Unlike batting gloves, helmets are worn for more than show.

 

But throwing at George Brett, a bona fide American folk hero? How dare any pitcher dust off King George?

 

Which is exactly what must have been going through the mind of Royals Manager Jim Frey when he shot out of the first base dugout like a man who had just seen his franchise pass before his eyes.

 

Noles sent a legend sprawling as if that legend was some Joe Blow ballplayer from Houston or something. It was one of the most artfully delivered brushback pitches of the season, coming as it did on an 0-2 count with one out and nobody on base in a game already lost to the Phillies.

 

After the game, Noles just as artfully denied it. "I don't throw there, up and in, at nobody," he said. "If I hit anyone in the head, I'd feel like crap. A guy like Brett isn't going to let a pitch like that intimidate him."

 

Maybe not. But it certainly caused Frey some concern. "I thought it was a knockdown pitch and I wanted it stopped," said Frey. "I don't believe any of that bull about the ball just getting away from him."

 

Brett and his teammates recognized the pitch for what it was, but took it a little more philosophically than their manager.

 

"I don't know if Noles threw at me," said Brett, "but if the next pitch had been in the same place, I would've gone to the mound."

 

Shrugged Hal McRae, "The guy brushed him back, knocked him down."

 

Noles' next pitch was not at Brett's head. It was a slider in on the hands. Perhaps temporarily gun shy, Brett pulled away from the pitch and missed it. The next hitter, Willie Mays Aikens, also struck out and later admitted being more concerned with Noles throwing at him than making contact with the ball.

 

If you think all of this was just a one incident among many in the Series, consider what took place before the pitch. Then, remember what happened afterward.

 

The Royals had pretty much had things their own way through the first 30 innings of the Series. They had been digging in, hanging over the plate, watching their home runs.

 

Even in the first two games, both Phillies wins, the Royals hit the ball hard. They rapped three home runs off rookie Bob Walk in the opener, then cuffed Steve Carlton for 10 hits in the second. The Royals, most notably Amos Otis, did everything they could to disrupt Carlton's rhythm in the second game by stepping out of the box and calling time as Carlton went into his motion.

 

The reason the Phillies won the first two games had more to do with Frey's quick hook than with Phils' pitching.

 

Friday's third game seemed the turning point of the Series. The Royals won it in 10 innings and came out smoking the next day, raking starter Larry Christenson for four runs on six hits- including two doubles, a triple and a home run- in the first inning.

 

After Noles said "hello" to Brett in baseball's universal language, the Royals managed just one more hit, a single to center by Otis. In Sunday's fifth game, Kansas City got exactly three runs off a 22-year-old rookie. And, on Tuesday night in Veterans Stadium, Carlton blew them away with seven four-hit, shutout innings.

 

"The Royals were having fun, doing their thing, until Dickie sat Brett down," said one member of the Philadelphia organization. "He put him down, then denied the whole thing... It was beautiful."

 

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then Dickie Noles' brushback pitch was the prettiest thing the Phillies ever saw- next to the World Series rings they will be wearing on their fingers this winter.

Young and Old Alike Share a Priceless Memory

 

By Ray W. Kelly

 

PHILADELPHIA- The couple stood on the back of the flat-bed truck with the bright October sun sending streaks of gold through the hair of his beautiful wife. And, as the din of 85,000 cheering fans washed over them like an ocean wave, he took her in his arms and kissed her long and hard.

 

It was one of a thousand glorious moments that were strung together like pearls on a precious necklace in what was called a victory parade. But for those fortunate enough to be in the eye of such stormy devotion- to be able to look out instead of looking in- it was something so grand and spectacular, it pushed all senses to the limit.

 

Like the kiss that John and Bonnie Vukovich shared at John F. Kennedy Stadium yesterday afternoon, you could just close your eyes and feel the affection.

 

"Let them all watch," called Vukovich, whose unflagging optimism and infectious clubhouse attitude had helped the Phillies believe in themselves. "I'm a world champion now. We're all world champions!"

 

That, more than anything, brought the multitudes into the streets of this city. The World Series victory belonged to the 1980 Phillies, but the spoils belonged to the people, who like Washington's army at Valley Forge, had endured the endless days of despair and wanting.

 

Time and again over the past few years, members of the Phillies had asked those who had witnessed the Flyers' triumphal marches through the city, "What will it be like if we ever win it all?"

 

And the answer was always the same: If you knew... if you had been there to see it for yourselves... you would want it and strive for it with every ounce of strength in your body.

 

The Phillies know now. They will never be the same.

 

"I often wondered what it would be like," said General Manager Paul Owens. "But it's impossible to describe."

 

There is too much magic in a Philadelphia victory parade:

 

To hear the band strike up and to move into a hurricane of love that swirls with posters, pennants, signs and smiles.

 

To look left and right and realize what it is like to share something special with more people than you could meet in a lifetime, people whose lives have been enriched and uplifted.

 

To look upward at the canyon of office buildings and see the sky filled with confetti and streamers. And you wonder if Lindbergh, MacArthur and Eisenhower all felt the same wonderful dizziness.

 

To laugh with the gray-haired lady in a majorette outfit topped with an Uncle Sam hat as she struts from City Hall to Vet Stadium declaring, "I'm 58 years old!" She finally meets her match in the form of a flag-draped man, who kisses her in the middle of Broad Street. Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Sam find happiness.

 

To look for a window that isn't filled with noses pressed up against it, a tree that isn't filled with celebrants, a parent who hasn't brought the next generation for a curbside glimpse of something they will tell their own children about... it is an impossible task.

 

To look behind, to the north, and see an ocean of people walking, running, dancing in the same direction you are traveling. Ahead, to the south, you see another ocean coming up to greet your arrival. All colliding merrily at a street called Elsworth- white, black, young, old, shirtless, shapely, shouting, chanting, pictures pinned to their jackets, on roller skates, on ledges, atop trucks, in doctor's robes, hospital green, devils' outfits, nun's habits, Phillies t-shirts and on to infinity.

 

And just when you think there cannot possibly be any more, the old, gray stadium that used to host the Army-Navy games looms on the horizon, announcing its presence with the combined cheering of 85,000 people.

 

Small wonder the generals of Rome's Empire longed for battle. The adulation of a triumphal return through the gates of a city is an experience that rings the ears like chapel bells and makes it hard to breathe.

 

The World Champion Phillies saw and felt it all. But they may have missed a stocky, little man with a face as Irish as the Blarney Stone as he stood in the crowd with his children and held up a sign that said, "Love thy neighbor... We do."

 

It was Jim Murray. He's the general manager of the Eagles. And you could see in his eyes what his heart was saying.

 

Someday... Someday.