Philadelphia Journal - October 28, 1980
After 30 years Phils phinally win pennant
By Gene Collier, Journal reporter
The 12th staging of the National League playoffs would have been an ambitious production had it simply taken its place among great similar events of the same discipline.
The Mets didn’t become miraculous until they dismissed the bewildered Braves in the first fall assaulted by the idea of regularly scheduled playoffs in 1969. The Pirates’ Bob Moose ended the 1972 playoffs when he wild pitched the Reds into the World Series. The next year, Pete Rose exploded out of a doubleplay slide in a fistfight match with an overmatched Bud Harrelson, and for a few frenzied days, public enemy No. 1 was safer in New York than Rose. The Phillies introduced pathos to the playoffs in 1976 and persisted in it in ’77 and ’78.
Playoff baseball is another game entirely from the familiar summer game, in which losing is part of the natural order of things. This year’s world champions lost 71 times. In the playoffs, there simply isn’t time for losing. In that sense, baseball uses a clock in the playoffs, a timepiece marked off in opportunities.
The Phillies took three purple hearts into the 1980 playoffs against the Astros, who were finally ready for playoff baptism. They won the opener behind Greg Luzinski’s two-run homer and assured performances by Steve Carlton and Tug McGraw, but then, as is their custom, made straight for the edge of the cliff. The Astros gave chase and at the precipice, the Phillies slammed on the breaks and Houston tripped over them and went over the end.
In between, the Phillies and Astros gave a captivated nation the Ben Hur of playoff productions. The best League Championship Series ever played was a veritable passion play.
The final four games reeled into extra innings. Down two games to one and losing handily in Games Four and Five, the Phillies scored three runs in the eighth and two in the 10th to win Game Four, and five in the eighth and one in the 10th to win Game Five.
The Astros turned the series in their direction in Game Two minutes after the Phillies bungled an opportunity to give everyone a weekend vacation from Maalox.
The game went into the bottom of the ninth, tied 3-3 and Bake McBride and Mike Schmidt banged one-out singles. Lonnie Smith fouled off six two-strike pitches from Frank LaCorte, then sent a 3-2 fastball knifing toward the carpet in rightfield for what looked like a game-winning hit to everyone except third base coach Lee Elia, who held McBride at third. Houston got out of the inning and won the game with a four-run 10th against Ron Reed.
Game Three was in the hands of Joe Niekro and Larry Christenon and was won by Houston primarily because Niekro knuckled 10 scoreless innings and Christenson could manage only six. McGraw, in his third inning of relief, allowed Joe Morgan a leadoff triple in the 11th and Denny Walling scored him with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 win some dropped squarely in the lap of Dallas Green for having short-armed Greg Luzinski in leftfield after Morgan’s triple.
The Phillies were constructing a string that would see 23 consecutive batters go to the plate with runners on in scoring position and not get a hit.
Verne Ruhle took Houston to within two innings of the World Series in umpire-marred Game Four, but Greg Gross singled to start the eighth and Lonnie Smith did likewise before Pete Rose finally delivered a clutch hit and cut the Astros’ lead to 2-1. Schmidt greeted reliever Dave Smith with an RBI grounder that tied the score and Manny Trillo hit a liner to right that Jeff Leonard trapped but was ruled a catch by rightfield ump Bruce Froemming. Rose tagged at third and scored the go-ahead run and Schmidt was doubled off second.
Houston tied it 3-3 in the ninth on an RBI single by Terry Puhl, who went 10-for-19 in the series, but Philly won it in the 10th when Luzinski crunched a pinch hit double into the leftfield corner to score Rose all the way from first. The relay beat Rose to the plate but Rose beat the daylights out of catcher Bruce Bochy and scored the winning run. Luzinski was miffed that he hadn’t started the game, didn’t have anything to say afterward and has said little since.
In the incredible fifth game, the Astros took a 5-2 lead with three in the seventh off Christenson, one of three Phillies’ starters to appear. But Larry Bowa started the eighth with a single to center, Boone chopped an infield hit, and Gross dropped a gorgeous bunt single to load the bases. Nolan Ryan walked Rose to make it 5-3 and was removed. Pinch hitter Keith Moreland hit an RBI grounder to make it 5-4 and Schmidt struck out on three pitches for the second out. Del Unser saved the rally by lifting a game-tying single to right and Manny Trillo rammed a two-run triple into the leftfield corner.
And Houston was not dead.
Singles by Craig Reynolds, Puhl, Morgan and Jose Cruz produced a 7-7 tie off McGraw.
But in the 10th came the hits you’ll always remember, a one-out double by Unser past first base and a two-out double by Maddox that fell in front of Puhl in center. It was the first Phillies pennant in 30 years and that one took 10 innings too, but probably not nearly the heart.
Championship was planted in the spring
Getting to the Heart of Sports
By Rosemarie Ross
It was balmy in Clearwater, Fla. and the living was easy under the blue sky that reached as far as the eye could see.
Back home in Philadelphia winter was still raging with all its bone chilling fury.
But the season was officially under way.
Back home the fans hung on every bit of news out of Florida. “They shoulda made some changes,” the faithfuls grumbled. “Same old team with the same bunch of losers. What these Phils need is some new blood.”
The only new blood was Dallas Green, the manager. The players were leery of him because long before he tacked up the “We, not I,” signs he’d let it be known that everybody better shape up or ship out.
The players knew that Green had the clout to pull off any threat. And despite the “We, Not I” slogans this was more a time of the individuals than ever. Because Green could either make them or break them this year.
In his room at the downtown Travelodge Bake McBride brooded and sulked. While most of his teammates lived in fancy condos by the shore, Bake lived in a tiny little motel room with a small shower that had more cold than hot water most of the time. It was a place used mostly by broke and struggling writers.
Down and out
It suited Bake just fine because he was feeling so down and out anyway.
“Why is it that my name is always the first one to come up in the winter trade talks?” he was asking one gloomy afternoon. “Why doesn’t the Phils management want me here?”
He never expected to last out the season in Philadelphia. In his anger and disappointment he stopped trying so hard and began playing just for the pure pleasure of it. And suddenly he found the stroke and admiration he’d wished for so hard and for so long and came up with the best season of his career.
A slim and trim Greg Luzinski posed down by his beach house with the soft waves providing a perfect backdrop. He was so eager and full of hope. He’d dropped 25 pounds over the winter and tossed away the troublesome contacts in favor of regular glasses which turned the baseball back into a beachball when often before it had been a fuzzy blur through the contacts.
‘You’re the star’
A few feet away from him Bob Boone was lying, face down, in the hot sand. Luzinski asked him to pose with him in a picture.
“What for? Nobody wants to see me,” Boone cracked. “You’re the star.”
It was to be the Year Of The Bull. This time he’d had nothing to apologize for. He’d been tough on himself over the winter. Now he would reap the rewards.
But fate threw him a monkey wrench. His knee had to be sliced open and cleaned out. The layoff set him back both mentally and physically. It was not the way he’d envisioned the year. And the bitter disappointment still sticks in this throat today despite a world’s championship.
And Boone became the one to finish with a bang and earn star status. Throughout the year he battled the worst batting average of his career. Fighting his way back from an awful knee operation, Boone, more than anyone else, became a victim of the players’ strike during spring training. As the National League player rep and the idealist that he is, he wore himself threadbare during the negotiations. After the talks in Dallas he looked like a ghost.
The price was high
The time he should have spent resting afterwards he spent on the phone still negotiating a settlement. The hours he should have spent in the batting cage were taken away from him by writers seeking the answers to all the strike questions. The personal price he paid was high. Only Boone will ever know what a tough season it’s been for him.
Tug McGraw was deeply disturbed in spring training. The two grand slams he’d dished up to the Pirates during the Bucs’ 1979 pennant drive hung like giant boulders around his neck. He felt Danny Ozark had nearly ruined him with all those long waits between assignments. McGraw had spent the winter trying to whip himself into superb physical shape so Dallas would be impressed and give him a chance to exonerate himself.
His impish ways and funny antics made it all seem like such a lark. But what McGraw gave of himself to this season and to this team this year is about as much as any man can give to this game.
“Concentration is my downfall in everything I do,” Mike Schmidt was saying under that bright Flordia sun. “That’s the one thing I’ve been trying to improve down here. It’s a day in and day out thing. It’s being able to hold that concentration for 162 games. It’s concentrating as hard as you can on every pitch from the first day of the season to the last. If I can add total concentration to my knowledge and to my experience, this could be my year.”
He did and it was. So much for the claim that most of what players say in spring training is just idle chatter.
Garry the outsider
Garry Maddox went through the worst spring of his life aside from the one he spent in Vietnam. He figured there was no way he’d come to terms with the Phillies on his contract negotiations. He was convinced they’d dump him to another team. He felt like an outsider and it was driving him nuts.
Despite his gentle nature, Maddox is a very stubborn man. The sunglasses incident proved that again. And back in spring, despite his great wish to stay here, he really wasn’t prepared to give an inch on his contract negotiations. It all worked out, though. It took ‘til the final days, but Maddox eventually truly returned to the fold of the Phillies.
There are mini-flashes back to those days in Florida: Nino Espinosa, also staying at the Travelodge, coming out of his room after dark in his wet suit and vanishing around the corner. Then to return 30 minutes later dripping wet and vanishing into his darkened room to be alone with his thoughts.
Lonnie Smith sitting on the floor in the same motel in the dusk one night speaking softly of how all the broken promises in previous springs had hurt and how his frustration over it nearly ruined his marriage. And how full of hope he was for this particular year.
Larry Christenson riding the bicycle for hours in the trainers room after being hit in the leg by a line drive. Randy Lerch trailing like a puppy dog after Steve Carlton hoping that some of Lefty’s secrets would rub off, and Carlton always being gentle and kind with the struggling young pitcher.
Larry Bow poking good-natured fun at Green’s home-spun slogans. Manny Trillo putting all his sensitive hopes in Green.
And the incomparable Pete Rose. Hustling every day like it was already the World Series. People gawking in awe at him. The old men in the stands scratching their wise heads, saying, “Yes sir, they just don’t make ‘em no more like Pete.”
And maybe they don’t. But each Phillie in his own way gave his best this year, even if some failed. They had to travel some bumpy roads since those beginning days down in Florida. As individuals and as a team.
But today, they are the champions of the world.
New Yorkers aside, it was a good Series
By Gene Collier, Journal reporter
It took such a momentum buildup for the Phillies to survive Clutch Weekend in Houston they were still stoking the fire through Game One and Two of what would be a very good World Series.
That appraisal was somewhat at odds with that of the national media, which knee-jerked to the Phils’ reputed uncooperativeness by labeling this a dull series.
There is a tendency in the New York press to think that anytime the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers aren’t in the World Series there’s simply something wrong with the game. One New York writer predicted Kansas City would win in six games because “the American League is just playing better baseball this year.” Translation: the Yankees were good and the Mets weren’t – or – the Royals beat the Yankees so they must be able to beat anybody.
This is why Tug McGraw was moved to invite New York City to put this world championship where the sun don’t shine after the Wednesday victory parade.
A Pittsburgh writer said, “The games are good, but really, who are these guys?” There’s a case of terminal myopia. Who are Mike Schmidt and George Brett and Steve Carlton? Really. Guess they’re not Steve Nicosia, and thanks for that.
The Series was exactly what was expected by the dramatist who designed a seven-game tournament. It turned rather decisively in the fifth game, which is the game designed to collect all the Series pressure and put it in one spot.
But before that’s examined, let’s point out that it was a Series that could have been one by either team in four games.
Started with split
The Royals led comfortably in the first two games and won the third and fourth. The Phillies won the first two, could have won the third had they scored any of15 runners left on base and might have won the fourth if it not been for an uncharacteristically horrendous first inning by Larry Christenson.
Larry Bowa signaled Philly’s intentions in Game One when he stole second base with the Phillies behind 4-0 in the third inning. Amos Otis and Willie Aikens had drilled two-run homers off Bob Walk, the first rookie to start the first Series game in 28 years, and as one observer said, “I thought it was going to be 33-0.”
Bowa’s steal ignited a five-run blitz led by Bake McBride, who crashed a three-run homer off Dennis Leonard to make it 5-4. The Phils would pad the lead to 7-4 and survive another two run homer by Aikens to win 7-6.
The Royals led 4-2 into the eighth inning of Game Two on the strength of a three-run seventh in which Steve Carlton walked the bases loaded and threw a two-run double to Otis. But Bob Boone started the eighth with a walk and Del Unser pinch hit a double up the alley in left-center to score him. McBride singled to right to make it 4-4, and Mike Schmidt, who would become the Series MVP, rocketed a double off the fence in right to score bake for a 5-4 lead. Keith Moreland’s line single to center made it a 6-4 final. Going back to the fourth game of the playoffs, the Phillies had now scored 11 runs in their last four eighth innings.
In Kansas City, the Phils sent 12 batters to the plate with runners in scoring position in Game Three before one got a hit. That was Pete Rose, whose eighth inning single scored Bowa with the run that tied it 3-3.
Dan Quisenberry both started and extinguished brush fires in the ninth and 10th, but Tug McGraw couldn’t do the same in the Royals’ 10th. Willie Wilson walked with one out to make a rare Series appearance on the base paths (he struck out a Series record 12 times), stole second, and after Brett was intentionally walked, Aikens sent a liner that tailed away from Garry Maddox in left center to win it and give K.C. life.
Aikens would get the recognition he deserved for a great series (four homers, eight RBI, on base 14 times in 26 at bats, .400 average) the next day when he homered twice, once in uproarious first inning against Christenson. LC was torched for a single, a triple, Aikens’ homer, and two doubles before he was rescued with the Phils trailing 4-0. Because there were waterfalls and fountains beyond the rightfield wall, one writer predicted that the Phillies would soon put Lloyd Bridges in right. The inning started a 5-3 Royals win that evened the Series two games apiece.
Another Schmidt homer
Schmidt’s second Series homer gave the Phils a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning of the critical fifth game, but K.C. scored once in the fifth against rookie Marty Bystrom and overturned the lead in the sixth. Otis hit his third homer of the Series to make it 2-2, and after Clint Hurdle and Darrell Porter singled, Bystrom was yanked for Ron Reed. U.L. Washington scored Hurdle with a sacrifice fly and Wilson banged a double over McBride’s head in right. But Bake got the ball to Manny Trillo, who unleashed his second classic relay throw of the post season to nail Porter at the plate. The Royals would grumble later that Porter should never have tried to score.
The Phillies went to the ninth at their most dangerous – trailing. Schmidt shot a single off the glove of Brett at third. Brett was playing him shallower than he normally would because Schmidt had twice dropped bunts in front of him. Del Unser then lashed a double past Aikens at first to score Schmidt, and after Moreland moved Unser to third with a bunt and Maddox failed to score him, Trillo lined an 0-2 pitch to Quisenberry’s anatomy and beat it out for the hit that put Philly up 4-3.
In the Royals ninth, McGraw walked Frank White, struck out Brett on three pitches and walked Aikens on four. Bowa made a great play on McRae’s hopper toward the hole to force Aikens at second, but McGraw walked Otis on four pitches to load the bases for Jose Cardenal. Jose took the count to 1-2, fouled one off, then swung and missed an inside fastball to end it.
“I feel like a bum,” he said.
The Phillies came home for Game Six feeling destined. They took command in the third inning when Schmidt ripped a bases-loaded single to right and have Carlton a 2-0 led. McBride chopped an RBI single in the fifth after a leadoff double by Lonnie Smith, and Bowa doubled and Boone singled with two out in the sixth to make it 4-0.
Carlton tired in the eighth, walking John Wathan and throwing a single to Cardenal. An exhausted McGraw came on and wriggled free after only one run, but K.C. loaded the bases against him in the ninth on a walk and one-out singled by Wathan and, ironically, Cardenal. Then came the play for which the Series might best be remembered. White popped the next pitch foul toward the Phillies dugout where Boone and Rose converged on it. The ball thumped into Boone’s glove and popped free, but Rose caught the rebound.
Willie Wilson stepped in with a chance to become the first man to strike out 12 times in a Series. That accomplishment would mean the first Phillies world championship ever. Somehow, we think you know what happened.
Peaks and valleys fill regular season
By Gene Collier, Journal reporter
Peaks and Valleys, Picques and Rallies, or How the Phillies Won the Whole Thing Already.
April 11-30. Phils a real sluggish 6-9. Lose to Ray Burris and Mark Bomback. Bomback again. Ouch.
May 11, Cincinnati. Pete Rose steals second, third and home (first, second and third, according to a Cincinnati columnist) as Phils rip Mike LaCoss and win 7-3 behind Dick Ruthven. They win nine of the next 12 and arrive for a one-day stay in first place May 26 with a 7-6 ninth-inning win at the Vet over Pittsburgh. Mike Schmidt hits leadoff double. Greg Luzinski gets infield hit. Bob Boone doubles home a run, and after Maddox is intentionally walked, Larry Bowa singles home the game winner.
June 13, Philadelphia. Three-game sweep of Padres begins Friday night with a seven-run first inning highlighted by Schmidt’s 19th homer. Phils leave for coast and beat Dodgers twice in back-to-back thrillers, then beat Padres for six-game win streak. They then promptly drop eight of the next 10 in a layback that will become a habit. Despite the skid, they don’t fall out of second place.
July 1, Montreal. Phils take series two-out-of-three with two eleventh-inning runs on singles by Keith Moreland, Lonnie Smith and Rose. The game makes the case that the Phillies are a good road team. They would accept that and win 21 of their last 27 road games.
July 5, St. Louis. Momentum from Montreal carries Phils to doubleheader sweep Friday night, but they promptly lose Saturday and Sunday games. Says Dallas Green, “We don’t go for the jugular. We let teams off the hook.”
July 19, Atlanta. Two days after Bob Walk wins in a fourth straight outing to go 6-0, Phils begin a season-long six-game losing streak when Garry Matthews and Bob Horner rock Ruthven for back-to-back homers in a four-run sixth. After slide goes to six games on the 23rd in Cincinnati, Green says, “I’ll be Danny (Ozark) is laughing to himself.”
Aug. 7, Philadelphia. Green is criticized for pitching 16-game winner Steve Carlton the night before Phils open pivotal four-game series in Pittsburgh. Lefty wins his 17th, but Phils lose next four games. Kent Tekulve beats Kevin Saucier, John Candelaria beats Nino Espinosa, Jim Bibby beats Randy Lerch (who’s 3-13), and Don Robinson beats Dan Larson. Phils now father from first place than at any time all season, six games. Fans deflated. Press says fans ought to be.
Aug. 14, New York. Mets a game and a half behind Phils and look to move into third place in five-game weekend series. Instead, Phils blitz them with 40 runs to win 8-0, 8-1, 11-6, 9-4 and 4-1. Lerch wins his last game in a Phillie uniform Sunday. Players will later say this sweep was the season’s turning point, even thought Phils stayed in third place and only gained a game in the standings, to 3½ behind Montreal. Says Pete Rose, “We’re back in the hunt.”
Aug. 30, San Diego. Paul Owens seethes as he watches 15 Phillies go down in order against John Curtis to end second game of Saturday night doubleheader and becomes flushed with anger the next afternoon when Garry Maddox drops two balls in the sun in 10-3 loss. When team gets to San Francisco, Pope holds scalding clubhouse lecture. “You’ve been playing this season for yourselves and everybody else,” he cries. “Play the last month for me and Ruly and Dallas.”
Sept. 5, Los Angeles. Ron Cey’s second-inning homer and Don Sutton’s three-hitter beat Carlton 1-0. Lefty’s 21-8. The loss dropped the Phils out of first place after they’d swept the Giants and moved in.
Sept. 9, Philadlephia. Boone’s squeeze bunt in the 14th inning scores Maddox and beats the Pirates for a second straight night. Goodbye Pittsburgh.
Sept. 22, St. Louis. Phils and Expos jostling each other for the lead with two weeks to go. Moreland jostles Cardinal receiver Kim Seaman for an RBI double in the 10th to win 3-2 and Phils are in first place for a day.
Sept. 29, Philadelphia. Maddox lashes game-tying single in the bottom of the 15th and Manny Trillo singles home another to win it 6-5 as final week starts. Bowa calls fans the worst in baseball and later explains he only meant the 21,127 there that night, which might have included your father who’s been a Phillies fan since 1940.
Oct. 4, Montreal. Phils make five errors, strand 12 runners, and win 6-4 in 11 innings to grab fourth division title in five years. Mike Schmidt’s two-run homer in the 11th, his 48th, does it after Bob Boone stings a two-out game-tying single in the ninth. McGraw pitches final three innings, just as he had the final two the night before.
Phils say there’s a lot left to do, then do it.
Who needs a crystal ball?
Picking winners. At the racetrack it’s tough. On those Sunday pools, near impossible. And with World Series the job becomes a burden almost too much to bear.
Who can pick a winner between two evenly matched teams? Who, indeed, can not only picked a winner, but state the number of games it will take that team to emerge as world champion?
Journal managing editor Walk Herring can. So can, believe it or not, Fred Edelstein. Ed Waldman and Ells Edwards don’t mince any words either. All four of those Journal employees managed to correctly forecast that when the shooting was over, the Phillies would be the winners in six World Series games.
The fabulous four weren’t the only ones picking the Phillies though. They weren’t even the most optimistic. The optimist award must be presented to Jack McCaffery who saw the Phillies winning in a sweep. Ken Muscheck and Tom Bellew followed close behind by picking the Phillies to win in five.
On the pessimistic yet hopeful side were columnist Rosemarie Ross, baseball writers Gene Collier and Bob Tennant, golf writer Jim Barthold, and schools writer Kevin Mulligan who all saw the Phillies prevailing in seven brutal games.
As to the eight members of the staff who thought the Royals would win, we’ll present their names without comment. Please hold your boos until all names have been recited. Sports editor Jim Gauger (Royals in five); assistant sports editor Pat Singer (6); assistant sports editor Bob Ibach (5) ; reporter Jim DeStefano (6); Local Angle artist Al Muskewitz (5); reporter Tim Panaccio (6); thoroughbreds handicapper Tom Muscheck (7); and sports clerk Randy Alexander (6).
We were unable to contact basketball writer Fran Blinebury or hockey scribe Ned Colletti that night but we’re sure they would’ve picked the Phillies.