Wilmington News Journal - October 5, 1980
Phils do it!
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
MONTREAL – Mike Schmidt's two-run homer in the 11th inning yesterday propelled the Phillies to a 6-4 victory over Montreal and the National League Eastern Division baseball championship.
Schmidt's cannon shot, his 48th homer of the year, climaxed an almost incredible comeback at cold, damp Olympic Stadium for the Phillies in one of the most bizarre games ever played.
The game, originally scheduled to start at 2:15 p.m., was delayed until 5:25 by a steady rain and did not end until 9:16.
The Expos, who needed two straight victories, went into the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead. Bob Boone's clutch single to center off reliever Woodie Fryman scored Bake McBride from second and it was tied.
After Tug McGraw gave the Phils two gritty innings of relief, they started their game-winning rally when Pete Rose singled to right. After McBride fouled out, Schmidt sent a 2-0 fastball rocketing to the seats in left field and the Phils were back in command.
McGraw, who won his fifth straight game during the championship drive, put the Expos down in order in their 11th.
The Phils open the playoffs for the National League pennant Tuesday night at Veterans Stadium against either Houston or Los Angeles.
Phils clinch division
Mike Schmidt’s dramatic homer beats Montreal 6-4, giving the Phillies their fourth NL East title in five years and making up for a game with more blunders than hits.
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
MONTREAL – It was not a baseball game. It was utter lunacy.
The Phillies are giddy – and hung over – champions of the National League Eastern Division today and it was only fitting that one of the most important victories in the much-maligned franchise's history was something you'd expect to see at a three-ring circus, not in a major-league baseball park.
Mike Schmidt, the gifted third baseman people keep saying never comes through in the clutch, blasted an awesome two-run homer in the 11th inning to propel the Phils to a wacky 6-4 victory over Montreal's dazed Expos.
Schmidt's home run off reliever Stan Bahnsen climaxed one of the most unpredictable comebacks of the season and made Phillies' fans forget about a collection of five errors, numerous base-running blunders and several examples of unbelievable futile batting that went before.
But even after Montreal had surged in front in the seventh with two runs, the Phillies refused to call it a day. They eased into a 4-4 tie in the ninth on Bob Boone's clutch single to center.
And after inhuman Tug McGraw chilled the Expos in the 9th and 10th, the decisive rally was started against Bahnsen.
Pete Rose, who had three singles and scored two runs, ripped a leadoff single to right. Bake McBride, who previously had three singles, popped out to the catcher.
Up came Michael Jack Schmidt, the leading candidate for National League's Most Valuable Player award.
The count went to 2-0 and those remaining in the crowd of 50,794 became restless. The next pitch was a high fastball and the world knows the rest. There was never any doubt. It hadn't even hit the left-field seats when thousands of disappointed Montreal fans headed for the exits.
Such a bizarre clinching victory should have been expected from a team that has had more domestic problems than the cast on "Dallas."
There were shouting, emotional tirades by Manager Dallas Green. There were indictments that some of the players really didn't care if the Phillies won or lost. And as recently as Aug. 10, these Phils were six games out of first place.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing out there," said Green as champagne dripped from his graying hair. "As I watched the game unfold, I wasn't sure that was really the Phillies out there. But when Schmitty hit that ball – boy, did he smoke it! – I began to relax. This team has come through all year and I can't begin to tell you my feelings right now."
The Phils, who lost two of three games to the Expos last weekend in Philadelphia, came here for this season-ending series in a first-place tie. They had whipped the Cubs four straight nights after the second loss to Montreal.
On Friday night, Schmidt blasted his 47th homer and drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly for a 2-1 Phils' victory. The Expos, with their backs to the wall, needed two straight to salvage their first division title.
The teams were greeted with steady rain as they looked outside yesterday morning and there was talk there would have to be a double-header today, something nobody wanted.
But after waiting 3 hours, 10 minutes, the game was started at 5:25 p.m. It ended nearly four hours later and the Expos were also-rans for the second straight year.
"It was almost absurd," said Montreal Manager Dick Williams in the morgue that was the Expos' dressing room. "I'm not certain I have ever seen anything like it. I thought we had it when we took the 4-3 lead, but it just wasn't to be."
The absurdity of it all can be pointed out by the fact there were six double plays, two runners thrown out at the plate, two bases-loaded situations and no runs scored, two wild pitches advancing the runners, five errors and seven runners on third base who did not score.
Even Steve Carlton, who does not talk to reporters, commented: "It was ugly, but very, very beautiful."
After the Phils had repeatedly wasted chances, it appeared the Expos were in command when they took their 4-3 lead in the seventh.
With Ron Reed pitching in relief o starter Larry Christenson, Chris Speier lofted a one-out pop to Manny Trillo in shallow right field. Trillo danced back and got in position for an easy play. The ball, however, bounced out of his glove and the Expos had a runner on with the Phils leading 3-2.
With the swift Ron LeFlore running for Speier, catcher Keith Moreland unleashed a wild throw to second in an attempt to get the runner stealing and LeFlore wound up on third with the count 1-0 on pinch-hitter Willie Montanez.
Sparky Lyle was summoned and Montreal countered with pinch-hitter John Tamargo. Lyle threw three more balls to put runners on first and third. Jerry White, whose two-run homer had given Montreal a 2-0 lead against Christenson in the third, sent a sacrifice fly to center and the game was tied. Rodney Scott then doubled to left on a 3-2 pitch and Montreal had its 4-3 advantage.
"I couldn't believe I dropped that ball," said a giggling Trillo during the celebration. "It was an easy play. I've never dropped one like that before. I really was bothered by it after they scored those runs."
Lyle got Rowland Office on a called third strike and the momentum was beginning to shift.
The Phils collected two singles against Elias Sosa in the eighth, but with runners on first and second and two out, Fryman was called on to face pinch-hitter Garry Maddox. Maddox fanned on a 2-2 pitch.
In the ninth, Rose walked on four pitches but was forced at second by McBride's grounder. McBride went to second on Schmidt's infield out, but the television instant replay showed that first-base umpire Dick Stello blew the call. Schmidt was safe.
Nevertheless, Boone, who was benched in place of Moreland at the start, delivered a single to center to score McBride.
"I wanted to get Boone to hit a fly ball," said the 40-year-old Fryman. "He hit it off the end of his bat."
So, after Schmidt put the Phils on top with his fourth homer in four days and fifth in eight, McGraw got Gary Carter to pop out, Warren Cromartie to fly to left and fanned Larry Parrish.
McGraw, who has not given up a run in his last 25 innings, fell to his knees and kissed the wet AstroTurf as his teammates mobbed him.
"If they hadn't come out there, I don't think I would have made it off the field," he said. "My stomach is in a knot."
Inside the dressing room Player Personel Director Paul Owens rushed Green and jumped up on him, wrapping his legs around his waist.
Rose dumped champagne on his teammates and Larry Bowa danced around the celebration. Tears streamed down Green's eyes and Schmidt let his emotions flow.
"This is very meaningful to me," he said. "Not very many people thought we could come up here and take two from them in their own park, but we did it. I am deeply satisfied. Today, I made it happen.
"There's all the heart possible in this dressing room right now, but if we don't win the playoffs, people will call us the same old Phillies."
The playoffs open Tuesday night in Veterans Stadium against either Houston or Los Angeles.
Call Schmidt ‘Capt. Clutch’
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
MONTREAL – When Mike Schmidt was a little boy growing up in Dayton, Ohio, his grandmother encouraged him to play baseball. In fact, as it became obvious he was gifted in this sport, she became his most important fan, a motivating force that encouraged him and, at times, pushed him.
Viola Schmidt died of cancer on Sept. 26 at age 75 on the eve of Mike's 31st birthday.
"She had been hanging on for a long time, and I think that was because of her interest in my baseball career," Schmidt said before the Phillies clinched the NL East title here yesterday on Schmidt's 48th homer in the 11th inning.
"I had been thinking about her a lot lately she had been in the hospital 54 days. I would like nothing better than to win that award for her. I had hoped she would hang on and see it happen, but even now it would mean a great deal to me to win it."
"That award" is the National League Most Valuable Player designation.
The Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman is a leading candidate for the honor.
He talks openly about it and how much winning it would mean to him. He is leading the majors in homers with 48, leading the league in runs batted in with 121, total bases with 340 and slugging average at .612. He is near the top in runs scored with 104 arid his .286 batting average is 25 points above his career mark. He has 17 game-winning RBI, including four in the last five games.
"If I win MVP, it will be the biggest thrill of my life," said Schmidt, who tried to keep his celebrated cool in the post-game celebration yesterday. "It's the ultimate individual award. MVP means a lot of guys around you – you know, you could chop up the trophy and give it to a lot of people in the lineup – have helped you."
Forget the statistics for a moment. To Michael Jack Schmidt this has been his finest year of eight in the majors. He has hit 45 homers before, has driven in 1 1 6 runs before and all that.
"I think if a power hitter can hit over .270 that means he has been relatively consistent most of the season. And I think I have been very consistent this year. Sure, I've had my 0-for-20s and struck out three times in a few games, but I've been able to cut down on my hitless games.
"Really, though, I think my maturing into a better hitter and developing more consistently good techniques as a hitter are the reason for the year I'm having. I've been learning to hit the ball more straight-away more often. I'm more of a gap hitter now than I am a dead-pull hitter. Matter of fact, now I'm so far from a dead-pull hitter it's ridiculous.
"I think learning to hit the ball straight away, not just having to rely on the ball from the middle of the plate in to hit home runs has made the difference."
Deep down, however, Schmidt is most proud of the fact people are looking at him now as a player who can come through in the clutch.
"There are certain guys who players say, 'He'll get the big hit for you when you need it.' I don't think that label has been put on me yet, but somebody ought to start putting it on me. This year, I have gotten a lot of important hits for the team."
Through the years, Philadelphia fans and Mike Schmidt have had a love-hate relationship. They have applauded his awesome homers, his unbelievable fielding plays, yet booed him when he was unable to hit a sacrifice fly with a runner on third base.
On the surface, he projects the image of an emotionless, almost I-could-care-less individual. Teammates have been calling him Capt. Cool for years.
"I want to always convey to my teammates and to the opposition that I am under control of myself," he said, trying to defend his image. "I don't want anyone to think I am intimidated by anything that goes on on the field, whether it is being done well or poorly. I like to always keep the opposition feeling I am under control of myself, especially offensively.
"I feel that in order to succeed as a hitter you have to have as much poise as you can possibly have while you're hitting the baseball. On the other hand, you have to have the least amount of tension that you can have as a hitter. The more tension you have, the more pressure you put on yourself, the more tension you're Sjoing to have in your swing and the ess you're going to succeed.
"The same thing is true defensively. The more tension and pressure you put on yourself as a fielder, the more apt balls are to carom off your body and go too far away to field them. But if the ball takes a bad hop and hits loose, relaxed, limp body, it's more apt to just drop straight down. Sometimes I maybe appear cool on the outside but, you know, and I'm not going to lie to you, there are times when inside I am battling negative thoughts."
Schmidt says the fans do not recognize this ability, but he has become an excellent situation base-ball player.
"It may appear to some I just go up there and whale away at the ball, but I don't. I try my best to hit according to the game situation. Obviously, if we're in Wrigley Field, there's no time I could ever go up there and not think home run. I probably get as many homers there as I do singles, but in other parks the situation is different. If we're down 3-0, there's no reason for me to go for a home run."
Ever since Mike Schmidt was that young, red-haired youngster in Dayton, he has realized he should play baseball.
"I think the most rewarding thing a person can have happen to them is to find out what God's purpose is for the and go ahead and do it well," he said. "To come to know what the Lord's purpose is for you in life and then to do it well – go give it all you have – is rewarding.
"Baseball is what God gave me – it's my purpose in life. In that sense, I love this game because it's what I feel my purpose is. There are a lot of hidden reasons why I feel that's my purpose. Through that purpose I have a chance to accomplish a lot of things off the field. I have a chance to influence a lot of young people and I have a chance to display my life and faith in front of people."
Handling infringement on the private life, however, is one of the most difficult things for Mike to handle.
"But I'm willing to accept that," he said. "I sign my share of autographs and go out of my way as much as I can not to appear selfish. But I respect my privacy and my family's privacy.
"I think one of the main drawbacks of being a successful professional athlete is the loss of that privacy. I don't enjoy that attention. But there are rewards and they are obvious. I like to be able to go to Wilmington Country Club and play golf with you, and not have anybody know I'm Mike Schmidt of the Phillies. I really like that.
"But on the other hand, if I weren't Mike Schmidt, I probably wouldn't get on the course. I pretty much owe everything I enjoy materialistically to my success as a basebal player."
Mike Schmidt paused a moment, reflecting.
"Sure, I've had a good season, but every game is a new one to me. I always have that attitude. I have the same amount of butterflies going out there now and the same amount of intensity whether I have 47 homers or 118 runs batted in as I do if I were having a bad year.
"It was very, very rewarding to have this final week pan out the way it did. My reward of a good individual season will be that it's part of a winning team's season. And I know my grandmother would have loved it."
Comeback started with Green tirade
‘I didn’t want to let these guys quit. I never quit on them and I’m sure most of our fans did not.’
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
PHILADELPHIA – Dallas Green's voice vibrated up and down the corridor outside the Philadelphia Phillies' dressing room in Pittsburgh.
"... and you've got to stop being so cool! You've got to get that through your heads! If you don't get that through your bleeping heads, you're going to be so far buried it won't matter!" Green shouted as profanity flowed.
"Get the bleep off your butts and go beat somebody the way you can... because you're a good baseball team, but you're not now. You can't look in the bleeping mirror. You keep telling me you can do it, but you bleeping gave up!
"If you don't want to play, get into my office and tell me, 'I don't want to play anymore!' because if you feel that way, I don't want to play you!"
When you analyze the Phillies of 1980, that's where you start – Aug. 10.
Veteran baseball men can never remember a manager going into such a hysterical, emotional tirade. Green's blast came between games of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader. The Phils had sleepwalked their way to a 7-1 first-game loss and went on to lose the nightcap 4-1.
When the sun set on National League East that night, the Phils found themselves in third place, six games behind Montreal and Pittsburgh, which were tied for the lead with 63-48 records.
But with only 55 games remaining, Green assured visitors to the scary-quiet clubhouse that the Phils were not finished. They would come back.
And come back they did.
They won eight of their next nine games and on Aug. 19 were just 2½ games behind first-place Pittsburgh. From Aug. 11 until the final three-game showdown with the Expos in Montreal this weekend, the Phils won 34 of 52 games to gain a first-place tie.
"I didn't want to let these guys quit on themselves," said Green, a miracle- worker of sorts. "I never quit on them and I'm sure most of our fans did not quit on them, so it was my job to not let them quit on themselves. If I had to yell to get them going, I yelled good and loud."
Green, a 45-year-old former pitcher who was being groomed to take Paul Owens' position as general manager, was summoned from his farm director's chair on Aug. 31, 1979, when the front office decided it was time to replace quiet, gentle Danny Ozark.
Green arrived like a bull in a china shop. He put aside feelings and personalities and set out to return the Phils to the top spot in the Eastern Division they had held in 1976-77-78. The players, who had settled into the comfort of a country-club atmosphere, did not know how to handle Green. Many were not ready to give up their personal ambitions and subscribe to nis "We, Not I" doctrine.
And last Monday night Green shook up his team again when he said he thought there might be some players on the team who would be just as happy if the Phils didn't win the division.
Green benched the best center fielder in baseball, Garry Maddox, for various reasons. He criticized shortstop Larry Bowa for his remarks about the fans and his criticism of the manager when Maddox, Greg Luzinski and Bob Boone were benched. In summary, Dallas Green said he could care less about his players' feelings or what they might be saying about him.
"I could quit," Green said. "That's what Danny Ozark did after seven years. He just quit. He threw it (authority) over to them. He said, 'Here, do it your way.' Now I can see why. Well, these guys aren't giving me any ulcers. They might give a weaker guy an ulcer, but they won't give me no bleeping ulcer!
"What people don't know about me is I sincerely want to win. I want to win for Paul Owens, I want to win for (owner) Ruly Carpenter. Sure, I want to win for Dallas Green a little bit, but most of all, I want to win for the organization.
"What these guys want... I don't know. I don't think it's just the fat contracts, either. I think it's a total rebellion against authority."
From that point, the Phils went out and played their best baseball of the season. They whipped the Cubs in four straight to gain the first-place tie and set the stage for the final three games of the season. Then they won the two they needed for the title.
How did they do it?
They did it with a marvelous blend of multi-talented veterans and hungry, eager youngsters.
Steve Carlton, 24-9, 2.34, was the best pitcher in the National League and without him the Phils would have gotten nowhere, especially in the early weeks of the season when the pitching staff was still the team's Achilles heel. Carlton, who came close to pitching two no-hitters, is a cinch to win the Cy Young Award.
And Mike Schmidt is a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award. The red-haired third baseman led the majors in homers with 48, drove in a career-high 121 runs, scored 104 and proved he is a consistent hitter with a .281 average.
Right fielder Bake McBride, frequently mentioned in trade talks during the off-season, batted .307 and drove in a career-high 87 runs. Shake 'n Bake had 14 game-winning RBI.
Manny Trillo, one of the best second basemen in baseball, hit .294. And shortstop Bowa, despite his differences with the manager, came on strong at the end, raising his average close to .270.
Pete Rose, the 39-year-old first baseman, had a disappointing season. His average fell near .280, but he led the team in hits with 177, played every game and had 12 game-winning hits.
During the off-season, Green and Owens worked hard at strengthening the bullpen, but came up empty. As it turned out, the bullpen was one of the strongest items down the stretch," especially Tug McGraw. Scroogie, as they call him, came off the disabled list on July 17 and in a span of 30 games allowed just three runs. Down the stretch, McGraw appeared in 15 games, allowing no earned runs. He was 5-0 and recorded four saves to run his total to 19 and ERA to 1.57.
To add irony to the situation, Owens obtained reliever Sparky Lyle from Texas on Sept. 13 for a player to be named later. The Phils had tried hard to land Lyle during the off-season and at one stage offered a large package to the Rangers that included McGraw, Larry Christenson and McBride.
But without Green's boldness in meshing rookies with the sometimes complacent veterans, the Phils would not have had the success they enjoyed.
In the beginning, the crusty veter ans did not know what to think of the youngsters. Didn't they know that when you put on Phillies’ pinstripes you were supposed to be cool and unemotional? Don't get high after victories, low after defeats. Face the world the same every day.
The Class of '80 refused to accept that. When Green put together his 25-player roster last spring, he sent shock waves through the clubhouse. Veterans such as Rawly Eastwick, Doug Bird, Dave Rader and Buddy Harrelson were sent packing. Skeptics said there was no way the Phils could win a pennant with a bench consisting mostly of rookies.
But they did.
There was catcher Keith Moreland, hitting .322, with seven hits in 17 pinch-hitting appearances and 28 RBI. There was outfielder Lonnie Smith, leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, batting .341, with 32 stolen bases. There was outfielder George Vukovich, hitting only .235, who delivered 11 hits in .41 pinch-hitting appearances.
And pitchers Bob Walk and Marty Bystrom, neither of whom were with the team when it left Florida. Walk won 11 of 18 decisions and September call-up Bystrom blitzed out to a 5-0 record with a 1.50 earned run average, winning the NL's Pitcher of the Month award for September.
"The kids have done an outstanding job," sid Green. "It has been a lot of fun watching the clubhouse. At first, the veterans did not get involved. The kids want to win so badly, and what they're doing and saying has rubbed off on the others."
"I think they have given this team a new spirit," said Coach Bobby " Wine. "They refused to be quiet. They refused to fall into complacent habits. And to top it off, they have a lot of talent. That is the bottom line."
In the end the fact the Phils were able to log a 49-35 record since the All-Star Game and win 11 of 14 one-run decisions in September pulled them through.
Not to mention Dallas Green's many tongue-lashings.