The Sporting News - October 25, 1980
A Break for Bystrom- Phil Request Okayed
By Lowell Reidenbaugh, Senior Editor
PHILADELPHIA- Even before the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Houston Astros in the opening game of the League Championship Series, the East Division champions scored a victory in baseball's higher councils.
For two days suspense had mounted as Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and National League President Chub Feeney considered a Phillies request to deactivate pitcher Nino Espinosa because of injury and replace him on the 25-man roster with Marty Bystrom, called from the minors on September 1. Ordinarily a player must be on a major league club's roster on August 31 to be eligible for postseason competition.
Approval was granted on October 7, only hours before game one. Medical reports submitted by the Phillies convinced Kuhn and Feeney that Espinosa was suffering from chronic bursitis of the right shoulder and was incapable of pitching. The righthander had gone to the minors for two weeks in June in an effort to work out his problem and had last pitched on September 12 when he worked seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, the league's strongest hitting club.
For the season, Espinosa had started 12 games, compiling a 3-5 record with a 3.79 earned-run-average and striking out only 13 batters in 76 innings.
Bystrom, 22, roared through September. The 6-5 Miamian won five games without a loss and registered a 1.50 ERA to win league acclaim as Pitcher of the Month.
The youngster might have become a major leaguer earlier except for a spring training accident. He slipped on a concrete floor while wearing spikes and damaged his hamstring so severely that he was unable to pitch until nearly midseason. Thereafter, he won six games and lost five, with a 3.65 ERA for Oklahoma City (American Association) before joining the Phils.
The stroke of good fortune was not lost on Bystrom. "Here I am, only 30 days in the majors and already in the playoffs," he gushed after being informed of the decision when he reported to Veterans Stadium.
Astros executives did not fault the ruling. "I have no quarrel with it," said General Manager Tal Smith. "It was a matter between the Phillies, the commissioner and the league president."
Manager Bill Virdon shared the opinion, declaring, "The people who made the decision feel that Espinosa's injury is legitimate, so it's all right with me."
However, one Houston player rephrased the chronic bursitis diagnosis on Espinosa, calling it "convenient bursitis." And second baseman Joe Morgan said, "Rules were made to be followed. If he (Bystrom) wasn't on the list September 1, he shouldn't be here."
While making the switch, the Phillies also activated Kevin Saucier, disabled by a sore elbow from August 21 to September 14, and dropped Randy Lerch, who had struggled through a 4-14 season with only two complete games in 22 starts. Lerch was touched for 15 homers in 150 innings.
"We felt we needed a middle reliever to take the place of Sparky Lyle," explained General Manager Paul Owens. Lyle was acquired from Texas on September 13. "We felt," added Owens, "that Saucier could better fill the role since Lerch is a starter."
Understandably bitter at the demotion, Lerch declined an offer to sit on the Phillies bench and to accompany the club to Houston.
"I don't want to sit on the bench like a disabled player," he said. "I've got more pride than that and won't go anywhere I'm not wanted."
The Bystrom-Espinosa switch recalled the 1973 episode in which Charlie Finley, incensed by Mike Andrews' two errors in a World Series game, pressured the second baseman into signing an affidavit that he was injured and unable to perform properly. Finley sought to replace Andrews with Manny Trillo, now the second baseman of the Phillies.
When the Series switched to Shea Stadium in New York for the third game, Oakland players appeared on the field wearing a black "17" (Andrews' number) on their sleeves in protest to the owner's bullying tactics.
Kuhn immediately restored Andrews to the roster. The next night, on being introduced, Andrews received a standing ovation.
Chaos of Playoff, It's Phils on Top
By Lowell Reidenbaugh, Senior Editor
HOUSTON- In the recorded history of baseball, there may never have been a game like it and, in all probability, there will never be another to match the fourth game of the National League Championship Series.
"It was," said Houston Manager Bill Virdon, "a strange game." His Philadelphia counterpart, Dallas Green, termed it "unusual."
Effervescent Philadelphia lefthander Tug McGraw declared, "It was like a motorcycle ride through an art museum... you see the pictures but afterward you don't remember what you saw."
Perhaps it was significant that the game was played in the Astrodome, initially referred to as "The Eighth Wonder of the Modern World." The game just might be remembered as "The Ninth WOTMW."
The contest overflowed with bizarre plays, missed opportunities and colossal controversy. It abounded, too, with mental lassitude that enabled the Phils, six outs short of extinction, to remain alive, win the 10-inning game, 5-3, and come back to win the N.L pennant the following day.
Foremost among the "unusual" plays that gives the game its distinctive character was a fourth-inning episode that started with singles by Bake McBride and Manny Trillo off Vern Ruhle. At this juncture, abnormalcy arrived.
When Garry Maddox stroked a soft liner back to the mound, Ruhle fielded the ball and, inexplicably it seemed at the moment, disdained a possible double play via second base, and threw to first base for a putout.
Abnormalcy now yielded to chaos. Philadelphia players swarmed out of the dugout, insisting that Ruhle had trapped the ball. Houston players maintained that the ball had been caught. Slow-motion television replays from numerous angles were inconclusive.
As confusion mounted, Houston first baseman Art Howe sprinted to second base, claiming a triple play, and the Astros strolled into their dugout.
Plate umpire Doug Harvey, with nearly two decades of National League experience, was unable to rule on the catch-no catch because Maddox, breaking from the plate, obstructed his vision. Harvey requested help from fellow arbiters Bob Engel at third base and Ed Vargo at first. Both ruled a catch.
So if Maddox was out, Trillo was too, for having strolled off the bag. But what about McBride, the interested spectator on third base?
The six umpires huddled at length, then Harvey conferred with League President Chub Feeney, who was in a first base box seat. Players and spectators grew more baffled by the moment.
At last, Solomon-like, Harvey explained the ruling that, while it did not prove wholly satisfactory to all parties, seemed to be entirely just under difficult circumstances.
"Maddox hits the ball and steps in front of me," Harvey began. "There are runners out there wondering if it's a catch or a trap. My first reaction is no catch and I put my hands down to signal fair ball in play. But I see the pitcher throw to first as though he's going for the double play.
"So I ask for help and they tell me the pitcher caught the ball, and that's good enough for me."
Inasmuch as time had been called before Howe tagged second base, Harvey disallowed that putout, returned McBride to that base and bade the game go on.
The ruling evoked protests from both clubs, but neither was pursued, inasmuch as the Phillies won and Feeney indicated that he would not entertain a Houston protest because McBride was stranded at second base.
The rhubarb, consuming 20 minutes of the three-hour 55-minute game, overshadowed but scarcely minimized the day's other wacky events.
In the sixth inning, with the Astros leading 2-0, at the expense of Steve Carlton and enjoying a bases-loaded, one-out situation, Luis Pujols lifted a fly to McBride in right field, a sure sacrifice fly, it appeared to the 44,952 crammed into the Dome. At third base, Gary Woods tagged up and proceeded across the plate after the catch.
The Phillies dissented. Instructions were shouted to young pitcher Dickie Noles, who stepped on the pitching rubber, in accordance to the rules, then threw to Mike Schmidt, who stepped on third base. Woods, Bob Engel ruled, had left before the catch, thereby scratching a run that the Astros would have found extremely valuable later in the game.
"I thought I did it properly, but it's not my opinion that counts," Woods observed. "I had a clear look at McBride. I made the judgment to go and I thought I made a clean start. It's my fault for not making sure."
In the eighth inning, with the Astros still nursing a 2-0 lead behind Ruhle, the Phillies snapped their 18-inning scoring drought with the help of a mental lapse by Jeff Leonard, newly installed in right field for defensive purposes.
Pinch-hitter Greg Gross and Lonnie Smith singled to open the inning. When Pete Rose grounded a single to right, Gross scored and Smith raced to third. Instead of heading off the potential lead run at second base, Leonard uncorked an ill-advised throw toward third, permitting Rose to gain the extra base.
When Schmidt smacked a ground ball to Joe Morgan behind second, the 37-year-old veteran hesitated a moment as he glanced toward Rose, en route to third, then looked too late toward first, where Schmidt was sprinting across the bag.
One out later, Trillo hit a fly to Leonard in medium right field. Schmidt took a quick look, decided it was not a catch, and took off for second. But umpire Bruce Froemming, stationed down the right field line, ruled it a catch. Rose dutifully tagged at third, then sped for the plate, arriving comfortably ahead of Leonard's throw. Bruce Bochy's throw to first base doubled off Schmidt.
Virdon exonerated the young outfielder for failing to throw to first base. "In that situation, I don't think I've ever seen an outfielder throw to first base," said Virdon, an old outfielder himself. "Unless," he added, "the fellow's psychic."
Now it was the Astros' turn to avert imminent defeat. With one out in the ninth inning and Rafael Landestoy on second base as the result of a walk and Joe Sambito's first sacrifice of the season, Terry Puhl singled to right field, tying the score. Moments later Puhl was doubled off first base on Enos Cabell's fly to McBride.
The Astros did not enjoy their equality long. In the 10th inning, as he's been doing for 18 seasons, Rose inspired another rally, rapping a one-out single to center field.
Schmidt lifted a 3-and-2 Sambito pitch to left field for the second out. Then Greg Luzinski, benched because of speed and defensive liabilities after hitting a two-run homer in the Phillies' 3-1 opening victory, bounced a pinch-double off the left field wall.
Rose, running on contact, sped around second base as his cap went flying. He never missed a stride at third, turning for home as Landestoy, taking the throw from left fielder Jose Cruz, fired toward the plate.
Rose was highballing as he approached the plate, where Bochy tried to short-hop the ball. Rose charged into the catcher, a forearm to Bochy's face, and the ball trickled free as Rose stepped on the plate.
Trillo's double plated the final run of the game and the Astros succumbed to Warren Brusstar in one-two-three order in the last half of the inning.
When it was suggested that Bochy's inexperience (22 games, two starts in 1980) had been responsible for permitting Rose to score, Pete leaped to the catcher's defense.
"I had an advantage over him," Pete pointed out. "He couldn't brace for the throw. I had to charge into him. It was the only way I could reach the plate.
Bochy was in the game only because Alan Ashby suffered a rib separation in the Western Division playoff with Los Angeles and Luis Pujols was incapacitated by a nick on the ankle when struck by an eighth-inning foul tip.
"I couldn't move out to catch the throw on the fly," Bochy noted. "I have to guard the plate even if I must short-hop the ball. Otherwise Rose slides around me. I made the play the only way I could and didn't get him."
Rose lavished praise on third base coach Lee Elia. "He saw the relay coming up short in the outfield and he gave me the green light," Pete revealed. "If he hadn't sent me on, I'd have held up. He showed a lot of courage in making the decision."
The situation was totally unlike the one that prevailed three days earlier when Elia's failure to wave McBride plateward touched off criticism in the Phillies' 10-inning, 7-4 loss in the second game.
The Phils were on the threshold of a second consecutive victory after Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw had collaborated in the opener. The score was tied, 3-3, at Veteran's Stadium. McBride was on second and Schmidt on first in the last of the ninth when Lonnie Smith flied to right. McBride, confident the ball would fall safely, ran halfway toward third base, then hesitated when Elia held up his hands.
Suddenly Elia started waving furiously, but McBride had come to a near-halt and was unable to turn on the generators on such short notice. The bases were loaded with one out, but they were all stranded on the Phils' way to a game total of 14 left on base.
"I messed it up," Elia admitted. "I should have taken a chance and sent him in. I held him up, and when I tried to get him going again, it was too late. Throwing up my hands was a reflex action."
Rose insisted that Elia assumed the blame unjustly. "There was only one out at the time and all we needed was a fly ball, which we didn't get," he pointed out.
Frank LaCorte escaped the bases-loaded jam by fanning Trillo and retiring Maddox on a foul pop. The Astros salted the game away with four runs in the 10th.
Even with a four-run cushion, LaCorte needed help in the last half as the Phils scored a run. Two runners were on base when Joaquin Andujar, after running the count to 3-and-0, retired Schmidt on a fly to right.
When the series, after a one-day travel break, resumed in the Astrodome, Joe Niekro, Houston's 20-game winner, was matched against Larry Christenson, five-game Philly winner in an injury-plagued season.
Christenson spun zeroes for six innings, Niekro for 10, but in the 11th, McGraw's third inning of relief, Morgan crashed a leadoff triple and Cruz and Howe were walked intentionally. Denny Walling's sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Landestoy and made a winner of Dave Smith for one inning of work.
The victory was dearly bought. Cesar Cedeno, stepping awkwardly on first base while trying to beat a double-play relay in the sixth inning, suffered a compound dislocation of the right ankle and was done for the year.
Incredible as game four was, it was merely a prologue for the one-game showdown that produced a pennant for the Phils after playoff defeats in 1976, '77 and '78.
Dallas Green entrusted the big assignment to Marty Bystrom, activated as an eligible only five days earlier. The 22-year-old righthander was matched against Nolan Ryan, in his second start of the series. Bystrom lasted until the sixth, when Alan Ashby pinch-singled to drive in Walling with the run that tied the score, 2-2.
In the seventh, Green, having used Bystrom and Warren Brusstar, asked Christenson, his third game starter, to check the Astros. Christenson encountered immediate trouble, Terry Puhl leading off with the third of his four hits. With two outs and Puhl on second, Jose Cruz was walked intentionally. Walling singled in Puhl and Cruz scored from third on a wild pitch. Ron Reed replaced Christenson and Art Howe tripled on his first pitch for a 5-2 Houston lead.
Ryan lost his touch, too. Larry Bowa singled to center to open the eighth, Bob Boone scratched a single off Ryan's glove and Greg Gross bunted perfectly to the right side, loading the bases.
Rose walked on a 3-and-2 pitch, forcing in Bowa, and bringing Joe Sambito to the relief of Ryan. Keith Moreland forced Rose as Boone scored and Sambito exited in favor of Ken Forsch. After Schmidt was called out on strikes, Del Unser batted for Reed and singled home the tying run. When Trillo, the most valuable player of the series, tripled into the left field corner, two more runs scored and the Phillies led, 7-5.
Now it was the Astros' turn to retaliate against McGraw, appearing in a record fifth playoff game. With Craig Reynolds and Puhl on base via singles and two out, Rafael Landestoy, inserted as a defensive replacement at second base, singled to left and Cruz singled to center. It was tied again, 7-7.
The Phillies got Bowa as far as third in the ninth, but came up empty. Green then entrusted the Phillies' pitching chores to Dick Ruthven, second game starter. He never made a wiser decision. Ruthven set the Astros down in order in the ninth, as he was able to do in the 10th, while the Phillies wrapped up the record-setting fourth consecutive extra-inning contest with a run in the 10th on doubles by Unser and Maddox.
A tension-packed week was over, emotion drained from players and patrons alike. The Phillies had qualified for their third World Series.
There may never be another playoff like it!
Phil Pennant Means Most To Grateful Garry Maddox
By Hal Bodley
PHILADELPHIA- There was the fly ball in Los Angeles in 1978. There were the two fly balls in San Diego earlier this year. And there was the fly ball last September 28 against Montreal.
And there was the fly ball Sunday night, October 12. Garry Maddox camped under Enos Cabell's fly ball in the 10th inning and a few seconds later, the Philadelphia Phillies had their first National League pennant since 1950.
It seemed only fitting that one of the most dramatic nights in the Phillies' not-so-proud history belonged to Garry Lee Maddox. In the 10th inning of a 7-7 struggle against the Astros and the pennant riding on every hit and every pitch, Maddox rifled a double to center field to score what became the winning run in the fifth and deciding game of the National League Championship Series in the Astrodome.
And then, after winning pitcher Dick Ruthven retired the first two Astros, Garry Maddox caught Cabell's fly ball for the final out that signaled the start of one of the wildest celebrations in baseball history. Champagne corks popped all over the Phils' dressing room as wives and friends and people who had suffered for 30 years crashed the party.
In the middle of the celebration was Garry Maddox, showing emotion that few realized he had.
"I know this is a very, very important moment for Garry Maddox," said Owner Ruly Carpenter. "You have to think back to Los Angeles. I know how he felt that day. And you have to remember the adversity he had this year. Yes, this is a very, very important moment for Garry Maddox. I feel for him."
Maddox is the best center fielder in the National League, if not all of baseball. Watch him patrol the outfield a whole season and it's easy to see why they call him "The Secretary of Defense."
But on October 7, 1978, in Dodger Stadium, Maddox dropped a routine fly ball off the bat of Dusty Baker. It was in the 10th inning and set the stage for Los Angeles' 4-3 victory over the Phils in the fourth and deciding game of the playoffs that year. The next morning, the headline in the newspaper read: "The Day Garry Maddox Dropped a Pennant."
"As soon as it happened, I thought of my two sons, Garry and Derrick," said Maddox. "I want a truthful relationship with them. I want them to grow up knowing there are going to be times when things don't go your way. I think the fact that I was in that situation will help them and help others, too."
That wasn't going to be the last fly ball Maddox would drop in a crucial situation.
On August 31 in San Diego, just when it appeared the Phils were on the verge of moving to the top spot in the National League East, Garry Maddox lost two fly balls in the sun. On both occasions, he did not have his sun glasses on. He was benched for three games and it appeared the gap between him and Manager Dallas Green was so large the season would end before the two patched up their differences. But Garry Maddox pulled himself together, talked to Green and returned to the lineup.
Then came the September 28 game at the Vet against Montreal when the Phils were fighting for first place. With the Expos leading, 2-1, Maddox lost Chris Speier's fly in the sun. It fell for a triple, Montreal won, 8-3, and many said the Phils were finished.
After that episode, Maddox did not start for the remaining seven games. He was benched for the first two games at home against Chicago, but when Green listed him in the lineup on October 1, Maddox said he could not swing the bat because of an injury to his little finger.
That started a standoff. Green refused to put Maddox in the starting lineup and the sensitive Maddox was too proud to confront Green. There was no communication. When the Phils went to Montreal for the final weekend of the season, the great center fielder did not start the two games the Phils won to take the National League East title.
But the night the Phils finally staggered to the clinching victory over Montreal, Maddox joined in the celebration just like his teammates. He sought out Dallas Green and the two hugged.
When the playoffs opened, Maddox was in center and remained there for the five contests.
When the on-the-field started in the Astrodome, most of the Phils dashed to center field, grabbed Maddox, and hoisted him to their shoulders.
"I can't begin to tell you how I feel right now," said Maddox over the roar of the clubhouse champagne party. "When I went up in the 10th inning, all I wanted to do was pick up the ball and get a good swing. At first, I didn't think it was going to be a hit. I thought I had hit it too hard, but when I saw it drop in front of Terry Puhl, I knew we were ahead.
"This pennant is one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me. It has been a long time in coming for me, my teammates and the fans of Philadelphia."
Phillers: Manny Trillo, selected the most valuable player in the playoffs, predicted he would win the award during breakfast with his wife, Maria, the morning of the fifth game. Trillo had eight hits in the five games.... The Phils used a single-game record 20 players in the clincher.... Only infielder John Vukovich and pitcher Bob Walk did not participate in the five games.... Pete Rose batted .400 in the playoffs and extended his record by hitting in his 14th straight playoff game. Before the final game, Greg Luzinski and he were tied for the record at 13 games.
World Series Then... Now
On Stage: Royals and Phillies
By Joseph Durso
NEW YORK- It took six months to pick the cast and set the stage, but finally it's curtain time: The 77th World Series is at hand. And the only thing that's certain is that they won't have the Birds and the Bucs to kick around anymore.
They probably deserved a better fate, those Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates, who carried us through seven tingling games last October before the swinging, singing "Fam-a-lee" of Pittsburgh swept three straight and won the Series. But they were all swept from the stage in 1980 as new heroes and old powers took charge, and Chuck Tanner shed no tears.
"We lost some key guys to injuries," the manager of the Pirates said, "but so did a lot of other clubs, so we offer no alibis. We simply didn't play as well as some of the other teams. But we will regroup, and we will be back."
Having resisted any temptation to intone, "We shall return," Tanner then evacuated the premises with Earl Weaver and watched the final battles take shape.
The survivors of those last battles, of course, were the Kansas City Royals, who finally ended their frustration against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who outlasted the Houston Astros to win the National League Championship Series in a five-game playoff.
The National League went into the World Series trailing, 45-31, in the showdowns with the American League.
An unusual number of struggles were fought to produce the survivors from the 26 teams that opened the season in April all even: No wins, no losses, 162 games to go.
But that was a lifetime ago. Since then, Kansas City's George Brett flirted with .400, the New York Mets flirted with .500 and the Yankees and Orioles won 100 games. Bobby Cox revived the Atlanta Braves, who finished fourth in the N.L. West. Billy Martin revived the Oakland A's, who finished second in the A.L. West. And Jim Frey revived the Royals, who clinched the A.L. West Division title so early that everybody spent the final four weeks watching Brett take that sweet swing at the .400 mark.
Pete Rose hustled past 3,500 hits. Reggie Jackson powered past 400 home runs and hit .300 for the first time in his career. The A's Rickey Henderson sprinted past Ty Cobb's A.L. record of 96 stolen bases, a mark that had stood for 65 summers. Henderson had 100 thefts. And Manny Mota got himself reactivated at age 42 and, naturally, delivered a pinch-hit single for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Also reactivated was Minnie Minoso, 57, who became the second player to appear in five decades when he pinch-hit twice for the Chicago White Sox.
But for all the virtuosos on all the teams, there remained one goal: The World Series. Even to Mike Schmidt, who has whacked more home runs that anybody in the business during the last six seasons, the goal was clear.
"I could be very satisfied with my numbers," the muscle-man for the Phillies said, "but it would color my career if I didn't play in a World Series. In hockey and basketball, most teams seem to get into the playoffs, and in football even the wild cards make it. In baseball, only one team from each division makes it, and only one team in each league makes the Series."
But, to sort out the contenders and pretenders, baseball needed a kind of free-for-all that lasted half the year. And beyond the individual performances that made headlines, it required some significant shifts in the balance of power in both major leagues. The power structures already had undergone dramatic changes during the four years of the free-agent system.
For three straight seasons, 1976 through 1978, the scene was dominated by the Yankees and Royals in the American League and by the Phillies and Dodgers in the National League. But in 1979, all four fat cats were trampled under the rise of the Pirates, Orioles and California Angels, and the revival of the Cincinnati Reds. It was an upheaval, suggested Whitey Herzog, then manager of the Royals (and since fired by Kansas City, then hired as St. Louis manager and later elevated to general manager of the Cardinals).
"If somebody had predicted," he said back in 1979, "that going into September, the Royals would be second, the Dodgers third, the Yankees fourth and the Phillies fifth, I wouldn't have believed it. No way. And for all four to finish out of the money, no way. It's probably good for baseball, as they say. But it's amazing that they're all down, and in the same season."
That was a year ago. Since then, the Royals, Yankees, and Phillies made strong comebacks under new managers, and the Dodgers made a run for it under Tommy Lasorda before losing out to Houston in a playoff. So, in 1980, came the counter-revolution.
In the American League, at least, the old powers were restored. The Yankees, who won their first pennant in 1921, returned under a new manager, Dick Howser, with the strongest history in the sport: 32 pennants and 22 World Series championships. The Royals, who lost three consecutive playoffs to the Yankees, also had a new manager, Frey, and exciting stars like swift Willie Wilson and submarine reliever Dan Quisenberry. Wilson became the second player in history to get 100 hits each batting right handed and left handed (the Cardinals' Garry Templeton was the first, in 1979) and Quisenberry won 12 games and saved 33, earning A.L. Fireman of the Year honors.
In the National League, though, except for the Phillies, the cast of contenders was new and historic. The Montreal Expos, who missed by only two games last year, raised the possibility of baseball's first playoff and World Series outside the United States before they came up one game short against Philadelphia. And the Astros, who missed by 1½ games last season, overcame the loss of pitching star J.R. Richard to qualify for baseball's first tournament play indoors.
Houston became the fourth expansion team to win a division championship. Only the Royals, Angels and Mets had ever risen from expansion status to divisional titles, and only the Mets (1969) had gone on to capture a World Series.
Montreal could have been the fifth expansion team to reach the playoffs, and more history stood in the wings. Dick Williams, the manager of the Expos, spent the summer shooting for a rare distinction. He already led the Boston Red Sox to the American League pennant in 1967 and the A's to the pennant and World Series championships in 1972 and 1973, and now he was trying to win one in the other league, a feat accomplished only by Joe McCarthy, Yogi Berra and Alvin Dark. And if Williams could make it with three clubs, he would share an honor gained only by Bill McKechnie, who won pennants with Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati.
But those were the goals of summer. The realizations of summer rode on the battles of summer, which went down to the final weekend in three of the four divisions. And by then, only the Royals were safe, with the elimination rounds at hand.
There were a few certainties in the main event. This is the alternate year when the designated hitter will swing for the pitcher in the Series. This is the year when the ABC network televises the playoffs and NBC handles the World Series.
This is also the year when they will play the Series without "Pops" Stargell, who helped shoot down the Orioles by hitting three home runs at the age of 38, and reliever Kent Tekulve, who pitched five times in seven games.
And, lest we forget, this is the year after the Pirates lost three of the first four games and trailed as last as the sixth inning of the fifth game. Then they turned the trick that only three other teams had ever turned in World Series history: They swept three and won it all. To the Pirates, it was worth $28,236 a man. The Orioles got $22,113 a man.
To the rest of us: Center-stage, the curtain rising, and a chance for an encore in the 77th World Series.
Phillies End 30 Years of Frustration
By Hal Bodley
PHILADELPHIA- At last!
Thirty years of frustration has ended for the Philadelphia Phillies. Too many times the doormat, and/or the court jesters, of the National League, the Phillies have landed in the World Series for the first time since 1950.
And they have done it with a team few thought would even win the National League East, let alone make it to the October classic.
Now, they're in the World Series for only the third time in the franchise's not-so-proud history. In 1950, the Phillies defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers on Dick Sisler's dramatic home run to win the National League pennant on the final day of the season. The Phillies then went quietly in the World Series. They lost four straight to the New York Yankees.
In 1915, their only other appearance in the Series, the Phillies dropped four of five games to the Boston Red Sox. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched the Phillies' only World Series victory.
But the 1980 Phillies have become a team of purpose, dedicated to erasing memories of those two World Series and failure in the National League Championship Series of 1976, '77 and '78.
The Phils won their fourth National League East title in five years after faltering in 1979, and unexpected fall that cost Manager Danny Ozark his job after nearly seven years at the helm. In came brash, tough Dallas Green from his farm director's chair with the assignment of halting the tailspin. He managed the club during the final month of 1979, then signed for 1980.
Green never wanted to be a career manager. Ever since the 46-year-old Delaware native retired as a journeyman pitcher in 1967, he had his sights set on a front-office position. His mentor, player personnel director Paul Owens, refused to let Green take an administrative job fresh out of uniform. Instead, Owens ordered him to manage minor league teams in 1968 and 1969 before allowing him to settle into farm system positions.
But when it became obvious Ozark was losing control last year, Owens felt Green was the man to salvage something from the team he had built.
In the beginning, the players did not accept Green's team concept. They snickered when they arrived in spring training in Clearwater, Fla., and saw large signs in the clubhouse proclaiming the "We, not I" theme.
"When are the pom-pom girls arriving?" blurted shortstop Larry Bowa, which just about summed up many of the players' reaction to Green's philosophies.
Criticism didn't bother Green. He stuck by his guns. He hurt a few feelings, dented a few egos and returned the Phillies to the No. 1 perch in the East.
Was Dallas Green's way the right way?
"I think the end results speak for themselves," he said. "I think now there are more people in our locker room who understand what I am trying to do with this team than there were in March- or even July. I thin there are a lot of guys who are tired of fighting me. I might get caught a few times, but I'm certainly going to get my licks in."
How did the Phillies, who were picked by very few to win their division, do it? They did it with a marvelous blend of multi-talented veterans and hungry, eager youngsters.
They did it with Steve Carlton winning 24 of 33 decisions, posting a 2.34 earned-run average and almost certainly winning his third Cy Young Award.
Without him, the Phils would have gone nowhere, especially in the early weeks of the season when the pitching staff was the team's Achilles' heel.
Dick Ruthven, coming off 1979 elbow surgery, started slowly, but ended with a 17-10 record and a 3.55 ERA. Injury-prone Larry Christenson was out for much of the year, but gave the Phils three strong starts the last month of the season.
Aside from Carlton, the Phils' starting corps got a big boost from rookie righthanders Bob Walk and Marty Bystrom. Walk, with the team most of the year, was 11-7. Bystrom, who arrived with the September 1 callups, was 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He was made eligible for the playoffs and World Series when Nino Espinosa was placed on the disabled list and Randy Lerch was dropped in favor of Kevin Saucier.
During the off-season, Owens and Green searched high and low for bullpen help. They came close to landing Sparky Lyle from the Texas Rangers during the winter meetings, but the deal was snuffed because of a clause in Lyle's contract that guaranteed him a broadcasting job with the Rangers at $50,000 a year for 10 years after his retirement as a player.
There was much irony attached to that no-trade. First, two of the players mentioned on the Phillies' side of it had great years.
Veteran Tug McGraw gave the Phillies more relief than they ever dreamed he could deliver. After coming off the disabled list on July 17, McGraw worked 52 innings in 33 games, allowing just three earned runs. He was 5-1 during that span and picked up 13 of his 20 saves. During the Phils' surge to the top the last five weeks, Tug allowed just one earned run, that on September 2. From that time on, he was in 15 games, had five saves and five victories.
Bake McBride, also mentioned in the original Lyle deal, was probably the most consistent offensive player. He hit .309 and drove in a career-high 87 runs.
Finally, there was Lyle himself. Owens managed to pry the left-handed reliever from Texas on September 13 for a player to be named later. Although Lyle was not eligible for postseason play, he took some of the heat off McGraw down the stretch.
Mike Schmidt, leading candidate for the N.L. Most Valuable Player Award, gave the Phils his best year ever. The red-haired third baseman led the majors in homers with 48. He also led the league in runs batted in (121), slugging average (.624) and total bases (342). His .286 batting average was his best ever and far above his career mark of .255.
"Winning the division title this year means the most to me," said Schmidt. "There were times during the season when people gave up on us. Yet we came back and won it. We made believers of a lot of people.
"Plus, we had to battle to win it. We had more problems. We had to have intensity throughout the year. We'd never really been in a tough pennant race before. We never had to play great baseball in September before. The other years when we won, all we had to do was just hold on."
The Phils ran up a 23-10 record from September 1 to October 4 when they clinched it on Schmidt's two-run homer for a 6-4, 11-inning victory over Montreal in the rain and cold at Olympic Stadium.
That victory was the Phillies' sixth in a row and climaxed a week during which the Phils' backs were repeatedly against the wall because the Expos were also winning.
On Monday night, September 29, the Phils wiped out a two-run deficit and defeated Chicago, 6-5, in 15 innings.