Camden Courier Post - October 29, 1980

Off field, it’s same old Phillies


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


NEW YORK – There was once a time when Dallas Green was a pitcher who stood on the fringes of a Phillies team that continually struggled with the problem of how to survive the individualistic and occasionally outrageous behavior of slugger Dick Allen.


Baseball's evolution solved that problem in a most ironic fashion. Now, the Phillies have a club house filled with ' stars doing their "own thing" with such regularity that Green could probably ask Ol' Crash to stop by once in a while just to set a good example.


Small wonder that whenever the subject of his almost certain return next season as skipper of the world champion Phillies arises, Dallas takes on the look of wagon master who still has the dust of the Oregon Trail in his lungs and just might scream if asked to make one more doggie git along.


Oh, he will reluctantly saddle up one more time because he is fiercely loyal to Owner Ruly Carpenter, General Manager Paul Owens and all the "little people" within the organization. He also knows which way is up.


But, if he had any illusions about success turning his roughriders into the harmonizing Sons of the Pioneers, he only had to look around yesterday afternoon to discover that the gang that gunned down the Astros and Royals and wowed the town of Philly is still slingin' lead.


Third baseman Mike Schmidt and Green didn't come all the way to the Big Apple just to have another member of the team blast a long distance hole into the barroom floor and demand they "dance," a treatment usually reserved for greenhorns, not recipients of the Most Valuable Player Award for the Series.


Yet there, behind the smoking six-shooter, was rightfielder Bake McBride, insisting that someone other than Schmidt was more deserving of the distinction. Perhaps shortstop Larry Bowa or catcher Bob Boone, theorized Bake.


McBride gallantly disqualified himself, an act that wouldn't have smelled like the downwind side of a buffalo hunter if not for the fact that, while his teammates were toasting and bathing in grapes the night of their ultimate victory, Bake was souring the moment by sulking over the MVP award that he thought he should have received.


If Bake's timing in the outfield was on a par with this uncharacteristic attitude, he would surely have the most lumpy head in baseball. Schmidt couldn't care less about an award bestowed upon him by a magazine.


He certainly didn't need to have an occasion, which he obviously planned to use to do some good, interrupted by someone wanting to know if it was true that Mike hadn't invited Bake to his golf tournament in Florida.


"Everyone on the team was invited," said Mike rolling his eyes. "A letter was placed in all the lockers... And Bake doesn't golf, anyway!"


The whole thing was absurd. But then, that's the point.


Green spent an entire summer dealing in what seemed like the ridiculous. It was always high noon. When he wasn't stepping out in the street to slap leather with someone looking to make him a notch on their gun, he was getting caught in the crossfire.


It was a thankless job that Green didn't want. He hasn't changed his thinking. His guts still grind when he thinks of things he could have done differently, like his dugout "blowout" with reliever Ron Reed.


"I didn't handle it professionally," he recalled. "But, I had to nail down the fact that I was the boss."


On the surface, Green tried to be optimistic about the possibility that the players now knew the trail to the top by heart and wouldn't need to be continually rousted.


"We're slow learners, but we learn our lessons well," he said with a wink.


Schmidt was right when he told the media crowd in the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, "I'm not so sure, as a team, we knew how good we were."


The question is, when are some of the players going to learn that they also have a far greater capacity to do good off the field than they realize?


Schmidt's representation of himself, his teammates and the people of the Philly area has been no less than outstanding.


Heckled during his early seasons, ridiculed during his "cool" period and rarely given credit for what is almost certain to be a Hall of Fame career, Schmidt parlayed the "healthy season" he wanted so badly into the cornerstone of a world championship.


"It had to be God's will that this was Philly's year," he said. "I guess I prayed almost every inning during those last three weeks. And, all my prayers were answered. For many reasons, this has been an unbelievable year."


Mike admitted that he'd love to win the other MVP award, the one for being the best in the league during 1980, because it represented a 162-game effort as opposed to a performance during a six-game span.


He's got a new book, "Always On Offense," coming out. Plus, he's going to Japan for a tour with Pete Rose and Steve Carlton. Life for Schmidt was at its fullest.


Within a week, the Dallas Green issue would be resolved. Hopefully, the free-agency of Tug McGraw and Larry Christenson would be dealt with quickly. Perhaps next season, the Phils could have a bit more fun along the way.


All nice thoughts. Yet, you had to wonder if there would ever come a time when the Phillies didn't have to circle their wagons.