Philadelphia Inquirer - November 27, 1980

Mike Schmidt to lead Thanksgiving parade

 

Perhaps with special reason to give thanks, Phillies star Mike Schmidt, the National League and World Series most valuable player, will be the grand marshal for the 61st annual Gimbels" Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will begin at 10:15 a.m. today at the Art Museum and wend its way through Center City, ending at the Gimbels store at 10th and Market Streets in the Gallery.

 

Eighty-three floats are expected to trail behind Schmidt and teammates Warren Brusstar and Larry Bowa in the holiday parade that has an Alice in Wonderland theme.

 

There's a chance that there'll be some snow falling by the time the parade gets under way, but that's unlikely to dampen the spirits of the thousands of holiday revelers expected to view the parade.

 

Since the route will take the parade down the Parkway and onto 16th Street before turning onto Market Street, parade-goers are advised to leave their cars at home and take advantage of extra service being provided by SEPTA.

 

 

The extra service includes additional runs of the Broad Street subway and the Frankford-Market elevated line. Also, extra buses are planned for the A and 33 routes from North Philadelphia, and there will be extra service on the 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 Subway-Surface trolley routes from West Philadelphia, Overbrook, Darby and Yeadon.

MVP Mike

 

Schmidt flattered by unanimous vote of writers

 

By Frank Dolson, Inquirer Sports Editor

 

The achievements, the awards have piled up. Mike Schmidt led the majors in home runs with 48, the most ever by a third baseman. He led the National League in runs batted in with 121 and in slugging percentage with.624. He won a Gold Glove, was named most valuable player in the World Series and player of the year by a wire service and a national sports publication. But this latest honor – Most Valuable Player in the National League – was the most meaningful of all.

 

MVP in a World Series is great, but an ordinary ballplayer can get blazing hot in a short series. MVP in the National League is greater because a ballplayer has to get hot and stay hot, has to produce big hits, big plays through the long season, through six months of cold nights in Montreal and hot days in St. Louis, through bumpy plane rides and 4 a.m. arrivals, through big, exciting series in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and not-so-big, not-so-exciting series in New York and San Diego.

 

"If that other award comes about," Schmidt said the day he was honored at the World Series MVP luncheon, "you have to look at what went into that – 162 ball games, a heckuva lot of sleepless nights and road trips and 0-for-4s and knockdown pitches and errors. That's what it takes to win the MVP in the National League."

 

A super year, that's what it takes. And a super year is what Mike Schmidt had – so super that yesterday he became only the second player in National League history to be unanimously chosen MVP.

 

"It'd be something I always thought I had the ability to do," Schmidt had said about the MVP award just before the season-ending, division-deciding series in Montreal, "but I was never at the right place at the right time. It's another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity…."

 

And this was the year when all those once-in-a-lifetimes happened, a year when Mike Schmidt was in the right place at the right time, a year when he's had to "leave a couple of open shelves" in his office at home to handle all the awards, all' the trophies, all the plaques that have been coming in.

 

At the rate the Phillies third baseman has been going, a couple of shelves won't be enough. He might have to build a new wing on his house, complete with garage.

 

"You might see me driving a Rolls-Royce next year," Schmidt said yesterday morning at the Vet, where he handled yet another press conference with the class, the dignity that has become so much a part of the man.

 

The car, he explained, would be a one-year gift from a shoe company to the baseball player "who has the best year who. wears their shoes." Schmidt would be – you should pardon the expression – a shoo-in, if not for the fact that Steve Carlton also wears the brand.

 

"The guys (under contract to the company) vote," Mike said, smiling. "I voted for Carlton. He voted for me."

 

Oh well, every award can't be unanimous.

 

"I think the fact that every writer ' who voted for this award voted for me as the MVP was sort of the icing on the cake," Schmidt said. "It was really flattering, humbling."

 

And really deserved. There can be an argument over the World Series MVP. There can be no argument over the National League MVP. He was that outstanding, that dominant.

 

"Larry Bowa had a great World Series," Schmidt said. "Bob Boone had a great World Series, and I'd have been just as happy if one of those guys had won the MVP at the World Series."

 

But this was no time for false modesty. Schmidt had hit 48 home runs, more than any third baseman in history. He had driven in 121 runs. He had led the National League in slugging. He had been spectacular during the stretch run, capping it with a game-winning, division-clinching home run in Montreal.

 

"I guess statistics don't lie," Schmidt said. "That's all I can tell you. I don't feel like in accepting either MVP award I was accepting something I didn't deserve."

 

But he had help. Even a Mike Schmidt doesn't knock in all those runs by himself. Even a Mike Schmidt doesn't win a pennant and a World Series by himself.

 

He went out of his way to pass around the credit yesterday, but there was something special about the way he talked about Pete Rose. "Pete," he said, "instilled in me a new vitality that I think at this point in my career, being 30, 31 years old – which is a turning point for a lot of ballplayers – gave me a great outlook on the game of baseball, feeling of youth and a feeling of wanting to have fun on the baseball field.... Pete came along at a great time in my career and I'm thankful for that."

 

Schmidt is no Pete Rose in personality, no demonstrative, spike-the-ball-after-the-last-out, stir-up-the-crowd type of ballplayer. But in his own way, he has finally convinced most of his critics, he wants to excel, wants to win as much as anybody.

 

"I just come to the ballpark with the idea I'm going to play as hard as I can because I love to play hard," he said. "I get high on going out on a baseball field. It may not look like it. I may look nonchalant from time to time and unemotional from time to time, but I really get a thrill out of it...whether I get four hits, whether I go 0-for-4, whether we win, whether we lose. I think that's enabled me to enjoy the success I have in my career. I respect the game. I respect the challenge of trying to hit more line drives, trying to strike out less, trying to become a better hitter. I guess until the day I retire – and hopefully that's going to be a long way away – the challenge of the game of baseball to me is fun, and I love having fun."

 

Although that fun translated into a statistical bonanza last season, Schmidt felt that he had merely "scratched the surface" in his bid to become a truly great hitter.

 

"For many years I was criticized for thinking too much," he said. "I was criticized for wanting to be more of a hitter than I was. If I didn't get hurt I could guarantee you 30 home runs, 100 RBIs, a.250 batting average and 160 strikeouts (each season). But to me that was ridiculous with the ability I had to play the game."

 

So he changed his approach to hitting, set his sights much, much higher... and proved that only 30 home runs, only 100 RBIs, only a.250 average was ridiculous.

 

 

"Maybe now I've made believers of a few people," said the National League's Most Valuable Player, the World Series' Most Valuable Player, the Gold Glove winner, the player of the year and the Phillie. most likely to drive to 1981 spring training camp in a Rolls-Royce.