Philadelphia Inquirer - October 24, 1980

Postseason profit for Phils

 

The Phillies' players earned their keep this year by reaching the playoffs, according to William Giles, the club's executive vice president.

 

Although exact figures won't be available for a month or so, Giles said yesterday, a "rough guess" is that the Phillies earned $1.5 million through the playoffs and Series.

 

The Phillies grossed about $2 million for the National League playoffs and the World Series, Giles said. The club took in $1.1 million in ticket sales during the playoffs and $645,000 during the Series. It got $300,000 for television rights to the games and a 15-percent commission on all concession sales at the games.

 

 

Last year, for the first time, the club had no profit because its player payroll increased sharply, Giles said. There would have been no profits this year either had the team not won in its division, he said.

With Series title comes new image

 

By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor

 

Until almost the very end, the image stayed with them. They were the spoiled Phillies, the pampered Phillies, the "they-don't-care-enough-to-win" Phillies. Maybe, in a small way, it was the determination to change the image, to prove the press, he public and, yes, even the manager wrong that drove them to those remarkable, back-to-back-to-back pressure performances against Montreal, Houston and Kansas City.

 

"It burns me up, if you want to know the truth," Mike Schmidt had said about that lingering Phillies image as the team approached the final weekend of the regular season. "I think that image changes. I think it goes from 'gutsiest bunch of ballplayers I ever saw (after a big victory)' to 'Hey, they want to do it their way; they resist authority....'"

 

For the 1980 Phillies, the season-ending weekend in Montreal, the National League Championship Series and the World Series presented three last opportunities to change, the spoiled, fat-cat image that seemed to surface whenever they lost a few ball games.

 

"The only way to put a damper on this stuff," Schmidt said that day, "is to scrape out a divisional title and a playoff title and a World Series title. And all you have to do (to change the image) is do it once."

 

In the wave of euphoria following the Phillies' drive to the championship it's easy to forget how close they came to not surviving that final weekend in Montreal, to not surviving that gut-wrenching weekend in Houston, to not doing what they had to do to change their image in this city and across the country. For the Schmidts, the Bowas, the Boones – for all the players who had grown up in this organization, who had lived through the second-division years of the early 70s and the playoff frustrations of the late 70s – that would have been hard to take. If you know Mike Schmidt, you know he cares. If you know any number of players on this club, you know how much the triumphs of the last few weeks meant to them. But nowhere will you find a Phillie who savored this world championship more than the one who saw only limited action in the regular season, and no action at all in the playoffs and World Series.

 

It's a shame that more hasn't been written about John Vukovich. Not John Vukovich, the utility infielder, but John Vukovich, the man, John Vukovich, the dugout cheerleader, John Vukovich, the motivator. Nobody deserved this championship more than he.

 

"It’s an unbelievable feeling," he said yesterday. "That parade was beyond words. I called my dad. I said, 'I can't describe in words what it was like. I never saw an unhapppy face.'"

 

I've been wracking my brain, trying to think of the single incident in the course of this unforgettable season that best exemplified the positive side of this crazy ball club, a side that existed even before the 11th-hour charge to the championship. And then I remembered....

 

This happened long before the Phillies turned it around, long before they had shaken their "they-don't-care-enough-to-win" image. John Vukovich was throwing batting practice, as he often did in the course of the year. The batter – his identity escapes me now – hit a savage line drive. Vukovich was behind a protective screen, but it didn't save him. Before he could twist out of danger, the ball nailed him, hit him a brutal shot low in the back. The sound alone was enough to scare you.

 

Standing there, watching the scene unfold, you expected Vukovich to crumple to the ground in agony. Instead, without a word, without so much as a rub of the back, he grabbed another baseball and threw another batting practice pitch. What's more, he threw it over the plate.

 

I can remember the amazement of another player who happened to be there, and my own amazement as Vukovich went on pitching as if nothing had happened. When his stint was completed, I followed him into the clubhouse. I watched him remove his shirt and undershirt, and I saw the angriest-looking, purplish-red welt I think I've ever seen. The pain at the momeni of impact must have been excruciating.

 

 

That's John Vukovich, a very special part of this club, a man who did a lot behind the scenes to make this championship a reality and – together with the Schmidts and Boones and Bowas and McGraws – to change the image of the 1980 Phillies from a fat-cat team that didn't care enough to do it to a determined team that did.

Quotable

 

Sparky Anderson, Detroit Tigers manager and color commentator on CBS Radio, on the World Series.

 

 

"The World Series is the greatest finale in any sport. For 10 days, baseball stops the world. It's like the Emmys or the Oscars, only better. The World Series is really hard on the two teams playing, in terms of being under pressure, but it's also a wonderful opportunity for the game itself. The two teams are selling baseball for years to come."

Tug tries to work out of jam during New York appearance

 

Tug McGraw, the Phillies reliever who has never been one to back down from a challenge, was in New York yesterday. Considering his already famous remarks about the Big Apple during Wednesday's World Series celebration, that had to be a bolder move than pitching with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 of the World Series.

 

In front of some 85,000 Phillies fans in JFK Stadium Wednesday, McGraw had this to say: "All through baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat to New York City, but New York City can take this world championship and stick it."

 

McGraw, who was in New York to tape an appearance on NBC's Tomorrow Show, tried to calm angry New Yorkers by explaining his remark. "The idea was that some of the writers down there covering the Series gave us the idea it was a boring job for them because the New York Yankees weren't in it," he said. "Oh, they expect the Mets to pop in there with a championship once a while.

 

"The fans of New York are wonderful," the former Mets pitcher continued, "and I haven't forgotten anything they've given me. But I must make everybody understand the context and the emotion it (the world championship) represents in Philadelphia, It's a history thing. Philadelphia has had the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell. Baseball is the national pastime, and now we have everything that is America in Philadelphia."

 

 

McGraw, 36, also discussed the possibility of entering the free-agent draft. He said that he "might be forced into it because of the time," but added that "the Phillies will have the first shot at me anyhow." McGraw explained that he had only two weeks from the end of the season to declare himself a free agent, and that because of scheduling problems he might not be able to work something out with the Phillies before the deadline. He said that he had a meeting scheduled with Phillies executives on Monday.

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