Philadelphia Inquirer - November 2, 1980
And you thought the Phillies did the deed all by themselves
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
From a perspective of nearly two weeks, I thought that you might like to know, just for the record, the real story of how the Phillies got to be Number One.
They owe it to all, apparently, to a Center City lawyer who wore the same clothes from the fourth game of the playoffs to the third game of the World Series. Then, when those clothes shed their magic and the Philliies lost the third game in Kansas City, he changed to another outfit. That outfit was not blessed, as you know, because the Phillies lost the fourth game as well, and so he jumped – not a moment too soon – into another change of clothing for the fifth game.
This proved to be the enchanted outfit. Not only did the Phillies win Game Five, but the Eagles, thanks to the same rumpled garb, won their game against the Dallas Cowboys. Clearly you can't take clothes like this for granted, which is why he took them in a bag to his office on the Commentary following Tuesday, and changed into them before heading down to Veterans Stadium for the sixth and final game.
There are many people who do not go along with this story, however. The lawyer, they say, was just lucky. The real power was in their hands. They got the message and left the room or turned the television off when Kansas City scored a run. One man insists that the Phillies won because he made sure that his wife, who was jinxed, wasn't watching; a woman says her dog did it. She noticed that the dog barked every time that the Phillies got a hit, so she made the dog stay with her throughout the whole of each game, doing things that make it bark.
My son says "the Phillies would never have gotten to the World Series in the first place if it weren't for him. He had changed, during the playoffs, from Channel 6 to Channel 17 every time the Phillies got themselves into a tight spot. The switch gave him – gave us all a – double image and a splitting headache, but it was the least we could do, under the circumstances, for our team.
My husband thinks, to be perfectly frank, that the Phillies' success had nothing to do with the lawyer's clothes or the people who turned off the television or the women who was jinxed or the barking dog or Channel 17. It had to do, very simply, with the crackers.
Yes, the crackers. You see, during the eight inning of that fifth and pivotal game against the Royals, there were these boxes of crackers in the room where the television set was. They were thin, black boxes sitting side by side, one nearly empty and the other full.
When it became evident that the crackers were good luck, no one was allowed to touch the them, let alone eat any. And, naturally, they had to be put back, placed in position before the start of Game Six when, as relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry put it, Kansas City was "up against the wall – the Berlin wall, east side." You get the feeling that if only Quisenberry hadn't changed his underwear, things might have been different for Kansas City today.
There seems to be no limit to superstition when it comes to sports. Rumor has it that Sparky Anderson, manager of the Detroit Tigers, never steps on the foul line when he goes out to talk to a pitcher. Nor is it unusual, I understand, for baseball players to wear the same lucky pants, or sit only in a certain spot on the bench. Someone well versed in these matters tells me that basketball star Pete Maravich always wore the same old gray floppy socks.
I don't know why any of this should surprise me. I used to stand in a gravel driveway and throw a tennis ball up in the air the night before a test. If I could clap 26 times before it came down, I would pass. If I couldn't, I would change to a lower number. Well, my future was on the line. So although I took most of this stuff with a smile and a large grain of salt, I wasn't beyond taking the jogging shorts out of the hamper that I had been wearing on the Sunday when Tug McGraw struck out Jose Cardenal in the ninth inning, and helping him do it again on Tuesday to Willie Wilson.
I doubt that McGraw will ever know quite how much help he and the other Phillies had. In the .locker room after the game, with Paul Owen's arm around his neck and the champagne dripping from his nose, he said the reason that the Phillies won was because they had reached back for that little bit of extra. But then he added, "The Phillies have been reaching back for the extra since Moby Dick was a guppy." So you know it had to be more than that.
Schmidt in NL, Jackson in AL, if this vote counted
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
In the next month, the MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and rookies of the year will all be announced. The fans will argue the merits of the choices, and, once again, many will debate what constitutes a Most Valuable Player.
Before and after the MVP voting each year, there are proposals for defining what is meant by most valuable, or for simply renaming it the Player of the Year Award. Doing either would be a serious mistake – it would be a shame to lose the interest-heightening controversy so often generated by the MVP choice.
The two writers in each league city who pick the award winners must cast their votes between the end of the regular season and the start of postseason play. I don't have a vote, but here are my choices and predictions:
National League MVP: Despite a sub-par year on defense, the Phillies' Mike Schmidt is a solid choice over Expos catcher Gary Carter, Astros outfielder Jose Cruz, Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker. In addition to leading the league in home runs and RBIs, Schmidt was first in total bases and slugging percentage, second in runs scored and game-winning RBIs, and within four of the league-high in walks. Prediction: Schmidt.
American League MVP: Because both outfielder Reggie Jackson and relief pitcher Rich Gossage are Yankees and thus will detract votes from each other, and because of George Brett's assault on the .400 batting mark, this vote is certain to create controversy. Our choice is Jackson. Although he didn't lead the league in anything but home runs (41), he carried the Yanks until Graig Nettles was sidelined, after which the opposition pitched around him. Jackson hit .300, batted in 111 runs and finished second in game-winning RBIs. Behind Jackson, we like Royals left-fielder Willie Wilson, Brett, Gossage and Orioles first baseman Eddie Murray. Prediction: Brett.
National League Rookie: By the thinnest margin, the choice is Dodgers relief pitcher Steve Howe over Phillies outfielder Lonnie Smith. Had Smith played enough to bat 400 times, he would have been a clear-cut choice despite his defensive failings. Prediction: Smith.
American League Rookie: His power stats make Indians outfielder Joe Charboneau a narrow choice over Red Sox second baseman Dave Stapleton, followed by Twins reliever Doug Corbett and Tigers outfielder Rickey Peters. Prediction: Charboneau.
Cy Young: There's no question about the NL award going to Steve Carlton, but the AL choice is certain to cause controversy. Our pick is the A's Mike Norris, who tied for second in wins with 22, arid placed second in earned-run average (2.54), complete games (24), innings pitched and strikeouts. He accomplished all that while pitching for a club that finished only four games over .500. Steve Stone, the 25-game winner for the Orioles, is the predicted winner over Gossage, Norris and the Yankees' Tommy John.
The answer to last week's Trivia Question: Except for Schmidt and' Greg Luzinski, Pete Rose is the only current Phillie to bat in more than 80 runs in two major league seasons. Playing for the Reds, Rose knocked in 81 runs in 1965 and 82 in 1969. Sydney Greenwood of Moorestown. N.J., was first with the correct answer.
This week's question: When Steve Carlton won 15 games in a row in 1972, he pitched five shutouts. How many shutouts did Rube Marquard of Allen Lewis on baseball the New York Giants pitch when he set the all-time major league one-season record by winning 19 straight games in 1912?