Camden Courier Post - November 15, 1980

For three full weeks Philly couldn’t lose

 

By Rusty Pray of the Courier-Post

 

It was something, wasn't it? For 24 days Philadelphia – often correctly called the city of losers – became the city that could not lose.

 

For more than three weeks, every professional team in the city won... and won... and won. By the time it ended Wednesday night, the five clubs had gone an incredible 28-0-2.

 

The Phillies, of course, began the winning binge during the World Series. After losing to the Kansas City Royals, 5-3, in the fourth game, the Phils took the next two to capture the first world championship in the 97-year history of the franchise.

 

But the Phillies were hardly alone. On Oct. 18 – the same day the Phils lost for the last time in 1980 – the Flyers were beaten, 6-2, by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers haven't made that mistake since.

 

To have one team a world champion and another on a sizable winning streak would have been enough to satisfy anyone's expectations. Except, the magic extended to the Eagles, to the 76ers, to the Fever.

 

One suspects that if some unknown entrepreneur of sport had picked that time to found a professional tiddlywinks team, it would have flipped over the opposition with ease.

 

For the Philadelphia sports fan, a downtrodden species if there ever was one, those three weeks were nirvana, a just reward for years of suffering. Stoic fans who endured decades of everything going wrong suddenly were set free to bask in the glow of absolutely everything going right. It was a wonderfully ironic reversal of Murphy's Law.

 

The Phillies started it with an Oct. 19 win in Kansas City that set the stage for the clincher Oct. 21 in Philadelphia. For the fans who spent their lives watching the Phils lose when they were bad, and continue to lose when they were good, the World Series victory was totally unbelievable.

 

For many days after the Phillies were paraded along Broad Street in the manner of conquering heroes, people were still pinching themselves. World Series parades were held amid the smog of Los Angeles, or the grime of New York. But it was difficult to fathom such a thing occurring under the stern gaze of Billy Penn.

 

While folks were digesting the gormet fare of a world championship in baseball, the Eagles were running off four straight wins, including one over Dallas, America's team itself. As a matter of fact, the Eagles have won for the last six Sundays, but the first two were when Philadelphia still was just another stop on the sports road.

 

The Flyers, with their keen sense of timing, decided to get into the act. After their loss on Oct. 18, they reeled of an unbeaten streak that has been extended to 12 games (10-0-2).

 

It seemed somehow appropriate that the Flyers would involve themselves in Philadelphia's victory spree. After all, they were the first to bring parades to Broad Street with back-to-back Stanley Cup triumphs in 1974 and 1975. And last season they merely went 35 games without losing.

 

The one streak that went virtually unnoticed belonged to the Sixers. They tied a 31-year-old franchise record by winning 12 games in a row, which is no small accomplishment when you consider the wild and crazy schedule National Basketball Association teams play.

 

It's a shame the Sixers did it in relative obscurity. But that should not take away from the fact that Philadelphia's worst draw contributed a great deal to the city's finest hour.

 

Only the Fever, which plays a hybrid form of soccer indoors, can be counted as a small investor in the rise of Philly's sports stock, which may be rivaled only by the current Reagan rally on Wall Street. The Fever opened its Major Indoor Soccer League season a week ago by blowing away the aptly named San Francisco Fog.

 

Like all things, good and bad, it had to come to an end. The Sixers, without center Darryl Dawkins and fatigued from playing in Chicago the previous night, were blown out by the New York Knicks on Wednesday. It should be noted, however, that the Sixers began another streak Thursday night with a win over Indiana.

 

Of course, a loss by someone was inevitable. But until the Knicks burst the bubble, Philadelphia was invulnerable, dressed in the impenetrable armor of winning. For a time, Philadelphia, once the city of losers, was the city that could not lose.

Brett MVP, Carlton top pitcher

 

NEW YORK (AP) – Kansas City third baseman George Brett, whose flirtation with a .400 batting average captured the imagination of the entire country, was named the most valuable player and most valuable batter for 1980 by the American Sportscasters Association yesterday. Phillies lefthander Steve Carlton was named the best pitcher.

 

Brett headed the list of those honored by the ASA's nationwide panel of sports directors, sportscasters and play-by-play announcers.

 

Also, honored were slugging Joe Charboneau of the Cleveland Indians, named rookie of the year; and Billy Martin, who led the Oakland A's to a second-place finish in the American League West and was tabbed manager of the year.

 

Bill Virdon, who led the Houston Astros to the National League West crown, the first championship in the club's 19-year history, finished a close second to Martin in the voting for manager of the year.