Philadelphia Daily News - November 26, 1980

MVP Schmidt:  Silent Victory

 

By Bill Conlin

 

Headline: Italian Quake Toll Nears 3,000.

 

Headline: So. California Brush Fires Still Raging.

 

Headline: More Code Violations Found in "MGM Blaze.

 

Headline: National League MVP Award to Phils' Schmidt.

 

Ten years from now the only story people around this area will remember from the newspapers of Nov. 26 will be that Michael Jack Schmidt became only the third player in Phillies history to win the game's most prestigious honor, the Most Valuable Player award voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America. It was a unanimous decision. Schmidt received the first place votes of all 24 electors on the MVP committee. The only previous unanimous National League MVP was Orlando Cepeda, the 1967 winner. The Phillies are the fourth team in the history of the BBWAA awards to have the Cy Young Award winner and MVP in the same season. And if Lonnie Smith wins Rookie of the Year next week, the World Champions will be the first team in history to sweep the three major awards.

 

THERE WILL BE other catastrophic earthquakes, more costly brushfires roaring through the canyons of Southern California, more towering high-rise infernos.

 

There will also be more MVP winners and, perhaps, some of them will be Phillies. But this is the first one for the club since a pitcher, Jim Konstanty, won the honor in 1950. And since fans will fold memories of this season of deliverance into the pages of their memories like rose petals in a favorite book, every honor falling to the World Champions becomes something more to be savored.

 

Certainly, nobody will remember 10 years from now that Schmidt used the occasion to stick it to the area's five newspapers which publish afternoon editions – this newspaper, The Bulletin, the Courier-Post, the Wilmington News-Journal and The Trentonian.

 

It is the policy of the BBWAA to announce its major awards – Cy Young, MVP and Rookie of the Year in both leagues – so that morning and afternoon newspapers divide what little advantage remains to them on a breaking story in the electronic age. Actually, the only significant advantage lies in the newspaper being able to assemble a timely and comprehensive report for its readers, an in-depth piece that is well-written and contains some input from the athlete.

 

WHEN STEVE CARLTON won his third Cy Young Award earlier in the month, it was released first to the morning papers. They had the first opportunty to report on deadline that Carlton was not available to have no comment.

 

The National League MVP was embargoed for p.m. release this year. The afternoon papers would get first shot at Schmidt's reaction to winning the prestigious award.

 

It takes two to make an interview, though, and Schmidt elected to slam the door in the faces of newspapers which expended considerable time, money and energy chronicling his splendid season.

 

When Orioles lefthander Steve Stone won the American League Cy Young Award last week, also a p.m. release, the lefthander made himself available for telephone interviews with the key Baltimore-Washington afternoon outlets, plus the PM cycles of the two national wire services. That was the Phillies' game plan but the publicity department found itself wedged between a rock and a hard place.

 

Schmidt refused a request by club public relations director Larry Shenk to be available for phone calls from four or five key p.m. writers after midnight last night.

 

"I tried to explain to Schmitty how the Baseball Writers Association worked the timing of the thing," Shenk said yesterday, "but 1 didn't make much of an impression."

 

AT A VET STADIUM press conference this morning, Schmidt called the award "great," but said he wasn't surprised that he won.

 

"I'm not going to stand here and be super-humble. I knew I had a really good shot to win this award. The fact that every writer voted for me for MVP is icing on the cake. It's flattering, humbling, but it wraps up a great year."

 

He thanked God, his wife, his parents and his teammates for their support

 

"I said a heck of a lot of prayers the whole season, not only the last three weeks. The Lord blessed me pretty much with an injury-free season. I only missed 12 games."

 

Schmidt came out of a tight pack of candidates to win the MVP breezing. The balloting by two electors in each National League city takes only regular-season performance into account. Schmidt's blazing finish dragged most writers on the MVP Committee out of the undecided column. He crowned his finest season with seven game-winning RBI in September and October and he drove in the winning run in four of the Phillies' tension-packed final five games, including the two-run homer that clinched the division title in the 161st game of the season in Montreal.

 

SCHMIDT, WHO MONDAY won his fifth straight Gold Glove, posted the best numbers of his career. His .284 batting average was a personal high. The homer which clinched the East was his 48th and broke Eddie Mathews' single-season record for home runs by a third baseman. In addition to his fourth big-league home run title, Schmidt won the National League RBI crown with 121 and led the league in slugging percentage (.624) and total bases (342). He was also among the league leaders with 104 runs scored.

 

Schmidt extended his streak of post-season games without a home run to 16 while batting only .208 in the playoff war with the Astros. But he rebounded in the Phillies' six-game World Series tour d'force, batting .381 against the Royals with two homers, seven RBI and the game-winning single in Game 6.

 

The day after the parade, Bake McBride said into a radio sports reporter's tape recorder that he didn't think Schmidt deserved the series MVP award, that Bob Boone and Larry Bowa contributed at least as much to the Phillies' epochal triumph. McBride repeated the opinion to Stan Hochman and the story appeared in this paper on the day Schmidt received his Series MVP award from Sport Magazine.

 

Schmidt was bitter. He felt the newspapers were trying to scrawl a moustache on his Mona Lisa. It never seemed to occur to Schmidt that McBride was accurately quoted, that none of his words were twisted or forced out of him, or presented out of their intended context. And he seemed just as unaware that Hochman was not seeking a sensational story aimed at discrediting Schmidt, but reacting like a good newsman to Bake's outspoken remarks to a radio reporter.

 

THE SPORT MAGAZINE award for the Series MVP consisted of a $7,500 scholarship to the college of Schmidt's choice and a watch valued at $15,000.

 

The BBWAA's MVP Award consists of a handsome plaque valued at perhaps $200.

 

But Bucky Dent won the Series MVP Award one year. The guys who have won the National League MVP include Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, Willie McCovey, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Willie Stargell.

 

That's Hall of Fame company, not a bad group to have your name mentioned with in the same breath. And even if Schmidt has no consideration or respect for the organization which chose him to receive their award, he will be forced to admit we've had pretty good taste over the years. We didn't throw his name up there with a bunch of dogs.

 

 

It would probably be bad taste to borrow the immortal words of Tug McGraw and suggest that Michael Jack Schmidt can take this MVP Award and stick it. So they'll remain unsaid.