World Series Program - October 1980
National League East
Winning the Hard Way
Dynamic Dallas Green, in his first season as manager, led the 1980 Phillies to their fourth National League Eastern Division championship in the last five years.
“The division, especially the Pirates and Expos, is a lot stronger,” Green said at the start of the season. “We can’t sit and wait for the home runs, the big inning. We’ve got to play aggressive, fundamental baseball and grind it out.” It took nearly the entire season, but once the Phillies started “grinding it out,” there was no stopping them.
Green’s Phillies led by four percentage points twice in late May, tied on July 11, and led by a ½ game the next day. That was the extent of their first place occupancy as Labor Day rolled around. Montreal and Pittsburgh took turns riding atop the tough N.L. East, during most of the first five months, while the Phillies languished mostly in third place.
In fact, as late as mid-August, it appeared as if the Phillies weren’t going anywhere. Losing four in Pittsburgh, they dropped to their low point, six games out, on August 10. The next day, they saw the Cubs score two in the last of the ninth creating a suspended game because of darkness in Wrigley Field. It took fifteen innings but the Phillies ground out an 8-5 victory over the Cubs the next day. That marathon victory served as a launching pad for the Phils. “Had we lost that one, it really would have hit the morale hard,” admitted Green.
The Phillies went on to take two of three from the Cubs and sweep a five game set from the Mets. That surge propelled them to within striking distance of the Pirates and Expos despite a temporary lapse in a lack-luster home stand against the Western clubs.
On the morning of September 1, traditional Labor Day, the Phillies found themselves just one-half game out of first place. Later that day, Steve Carlton defeated the Giants for his 21st victory of the season to put the Phillies in first place by a mere percentage point over the Expos and the Pirates. They increased that lead to a full game on September 4 by defeating the Dodgers 3-2 in Los Angeles for their fifth straight victory in a successful swing through the West. Mike Schmidt, who went on to win the home run championship, belted his 36th, and Greg Luzinski, although side-lined for six weeks because of a knee operation, slammed his 17th to account for the Phillies’ runs. There was no stopping the Phils thereafter.
The Phillies’ starting eight of Bob Boone, Pete Rose, Manny Trillo, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox and Bake McBride ranks with the best in baseball. Combined, they represent 31 All-Star Games, 14 Gold Gloves, 10,637 hits and a .285 average.
Rose was typical. He didn’t miss a game, was among the leaders in runs scored, led all year in doubles and flirted with the .300 mark at the plate. McBride and Trillo were the most consistent offensive players; Bake set personal highs in doubles and RBI while hitting over .300; Trillo spend just three days under the .300 level throughout the season. Defensively, he was outstanding. Boone turned in another solid performance behind the plate and delivered timely game-winning base hits.
Schmidt breezed to his fourth National League home run crown while breaking the Phillies’ career record of 259 home runs set by Del Ennis.
Veteran left-hander Steve Carlton was awesome. He won his first three, lost and then reeled off eight straight victories. No one was close in wins and strikeouts in the N.L. as he headed towards his third Cy Young Award.
“His record proved he’s the best in the league,” said rival manager Chuck Tanner of the Pirates. “He’s got great control and a fantastic slider.”
Righthander Dick Ruthven began slowly, still feeling the effects of elbow surgery from the previous September. He came on in the second half, winning seven of ten decisions in July and August.
Another veteran, Tug McGraw, was Green’s “hammer man” in the clutch. Coming off the disabled list July 17, Tug saved eight games and gave up just two runs heading into September action.
The Phillies farm system had produced most of the talent on the 1976-77-78 championship clubs. Along came three more graduates this year, catcher Keith Moreland, outfielder Lonnie Smith and pitcher Bob Walk. All three were key factors during the season with Walk winning his first six.
Physically, the Phillies were at their strongest as August came around. McGraw was back. Three other pitchers, Larry Christenson, Nino Espinosa, and Warren Brusstar, who began the year on the disabled list, were contributing. Luzinski injured his knee July 5 and missed 45 games, returning to the lineup August 24. It marked the first time since June 24 (61 games) that the Phillies had their starting eight back in there.
But in the end, it was Green’s “grind it out” philosophy that prevailed.