Camden Courier Post - December 23, 1980

Unser agrees to remain with Phillies


By Bob Kenney, Courier-Post Sports Editor


PHILADELPHIA – Del Unser will be wearing the Phillies' pin stripes again next year.


The pinch-hitting hero of the playoffs and the World Series yesterday signed a two-year contract ending his free agent limbo.


"I'm very pleased, very much so," said the 36-year-old Unser. "I had always planned to be part of the Phillies next season. That always was the bottom line in my thinking."


IT ALMOST didn't work out that way. Unser decided to become a free agent in November and it appeared as late as last week the popular lefty would be swinging his bat elsewhere next season.


But Paul Owens, the director of player personnel, has always felt it best to take care of those who take care of you. He put that theory to use last Friday and increased his "final offer" to ( Unser."


Once before, in 1978, Owens retrieved Unser from the scrap heap and invited him to training camp where he earned a contract. Insiders indicated Owens felt snubbed by Unser's decision and it looked as if the outfielder-first baseman was finished as a Veterans Stadium favorite.


"I WAS a little nervous," Unser admitted from his California home last night. "But I realize I wasn't high up on their priority list. They had plenty of time.


"But you worry. You are never sure how much confidence the other side has in you. I knew they had a lot of young players ready to step in at half the price."


A veteran of 13 big league seasons, Unser hit .264 last year but came into his own in the post season. He batted .400 with two key hits in the League Championship Series against Houston, then went 3-for-6 with two runs batted in against Kansas City in the World Series.


UNSER WAS the team's best pinch-hitter the last two years, batting .310 with 26 hits and 20 RBIs. He set a major league record in '79 with three consecutive pinch-hit home runs.


The Phillies offered Unser a one-year contract. Del and agent Dick Moss wanted three years. "I'm realistic enough to know how old I am," said Unser, who settled for two.


"After the draft, I talked to several clubs. I had one solid offer, from the Pirates. A very good offer."


MOSS AND OWENS talked again last Friday and some minor issues were resolved. Bonus clauses were changed to enable Unser to fly his family to training camp and then to Philadelphia.


"Just little things," said Del, obviously pleased with the contract. "But it gives me security. I have friends here.


"This means a lot to me," said Unser, who is taking some real estate courses and staying in shape playing golf. "I sincerely feel terrific."