Philadelphia Daily News - November 5, 1980

Carlton’s A Winner

 

By Bill Conlin

 

By unofficial reckoning, Steve Carlton addressed just two complete sentences to the baseball-writing press last season.

 

When a wire service writer approached Lefty in spring training and said. "My notebook is in my pocket, my tape recorder is turned off, couldn’t we just have an informal chat?" Carlton regarded the man impassively. "Policy is policy," Steve said and left the man contemplating a 6-4 pillar of air.

 

The second sentence was uttered when Carlton came upon a Washington Post writer who was taking notes on the contents of his locker. "You have no right to do that." Lefty said, accompanying the words with the kind of glare priests of the Inquisition reserved for unrepentant heretics.

 

So much for 1980 quotes.

 

On a day of lopsided elections, Carlton won his third Cy Young Award. He carried 11 of the 12 Baseball Writers Association of America precincts, gaining 23 of 24 first-place votes. He split the two Cincinnati chapter first place votes when Dayton columnist Hal McCoy gave his to Los Angeles lefthander Jerry Reuss. McCoy placed Carlton second on his ballot.

 

THERE WON’T be any mushy acceptance speech. The BBWAA won't have to spring for plane fare to present him with the plaque at the New York chapter's banquet.

 

Beverly Carlton accepted congratulations in her husband's behalf and told BBWAA Secretary-Treasurer Jack Lang that Steve will be hunting for the next week to 10 days. Lefty had escaped Mike Schmidt's Hilton Head golf tournament just in time.

 

His stats, of course, were imposing enough to eliminate the possibility of spite votes against him by the profession he has detested for so many years. He joined Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer as a three-time winner of an award first presented in 1967. Carlton was 24-9, won two World Series games and led the majors with 286 strikeouts in a yeoman 304 innings pitched.

 

The season was a close approximation of his 1972 tour d'force; when he did a very good imitation of Cy Young, himself. Carlton was 27-10 that year, accounting for 46 percent of the victories managed by a sixth-place Phillies team.

 

Carlton spoke freely to the media in those days. From the first morning he arrived in Clearwater after a controversial trade with the Cardinals for popular righthander Rick Wise, Lefty was what sports writers call good copy.

 

FOR THE enlightenment of fans who might have the impression that Carlton was always publicly mute, let us go back to that memorable season.

 

On Sept 7, Carlton beat the Cardinals, 2-1, for his 23rd victory.

 

"I can't win 30," Steve said afterward. "I'd have to win my last seven starts. But there's no reason I can't. A lot of things will have to happen. It's a pretty tough schedule and I don't want to get greedy. I don’t throw at all between starts, so it would be tough for me to pitch in relief. I'd prefer staying in the rotation and seeing what happens."

 

Paul Owens was the interim manager the second half of the season. Like everybody else, he was caught up in Carlton's magic. "If he still has a shot at 30, we'll do anything he wants us to do," The Pope said.

 

In the same interview, Carlton admitted that he was dead tired against St. Louis. The reason will surprise and amaze 1980 Carlton aficionados. "I haven’t been getting my running in," Steve said. "We had the morning doubleheader in Pittsburgh, then a day off. My legs tired and when they do that my pitches tend to be high. The legs have to carry the arms."

 

Carlton complaining about not getting enough running in? Holy Gus Hoefling!

 

On Sept. 15. the Phillies gave Carlton a night at the Vet. They gave him a Chrysler Imperial, golf clubs, color TV and a mountain of expensive toys. Then he went out and beat the Expos, 5-3, for his 24th victory and 26th complete game. It was a weary, scuffling effort Carlton attributed his lack of sharpness to some unscheduled throwing between starts.

 

HE APPEARED on the Mike Douglas Show two days before the Expos game. Naturally, they handed him some baseballs made in Okinawa and asked him to hit a trigger that would dump co-host Ron Carey into a tank of water. Yuk, yuk. Lefty went along with the gag.

 

"I had to throw hard." he said, "even though it was only 35 feet. I can’t hit anything throwing easy. Between warming up, a dry run and the show itself I wound up throwing about 60 pitches. I hit it a couple of times and nothing happened. Finally, Mike walked up and said. 'I saw it, he hit it right here. And he pushed the trigger and Carey fell in.

 

"Don't write anything bad about Mike. I just think throwing two days ago took something out of my arm. It broke the string, the groove I've been in. For the first time this season my arm felt a little tired."

 

It was an emotional ceremony. Owens chauffeured the Imperial to home plate.

 

"I wanted to win for them so bad tonight," Carlton said. "I really was disappointed when I gave up three runs. I knew I wasn't at my best... I would have felt terrible if I had lost This was kind of the culmination, my whole season coming to a head. I felt a special obligation to win."

 

Carlton's father. Joe, was at the game. Afterward, he told a writer. "I think Steve's left-handed because his mother always carried him around on her left hip."

 

ALL SEASON long, Carlton took a can of shaving cream and foamed the number "25" on the clubhouse mirror. He revealed that winning 25 games was his constant goal. Then he unfurled 15 straight victories and there was so much speculation that he would win 30, the number "25" lost its meaning.

 

Ironically, the night he won his 25th. the losing pitcher was Rick Wise.

 

"I still wrote '25’ on my mirror with shaving cream before I shaved," Carlton said. "I try never to lose sight of a goal. But I really don't feel anything now. I'm very happy I reached my goal, but I've known for some time I was going to reach 25. And then everybody started raising the possibility I could win 30 and it got very confusing mentally. Thirty was very tough mathematically, but it was on my mind and I guess kind of superseded my desire to win 25. and there was a twinge of disappointment when I lost to the Mets and knew I was out of the necessary starts."

 

Carlton's 25th victory also the Phillies' 53rd.

 

If the cosmetic highlight of Carlton's 72 season was a 14-strikeout one-hitter in San Francisco, the emotional highlight came on the night of Aug. 17. That was when Carlton went for his 15th straight victory against the Reds.

 

Bill Giles figured he would do maybe 10,000 or so at the gate. Nobody was prepared, though, for the crowd that descended on the Vet. The gate sale hit a record 24,000 and 53,377 fans turned out. Traffic was so dense around the ballpark police estimated 10,000 fans never made it to the game, even though the starting time was set back 10 minutes.

 

CARLTON REWARDED the huge crowd with an 8-4 victory. Afterward, the fans stayed in their seats and a spontaneous chant filled the stadium. "We want Steve, we want Steve," the crowd thundered.

 

Carlton returned to the field for the first curtain-call in Vet history. He thanked the crowd with outspread arms. "Beautiful," he was saying. "You're all beautiful. I love it."

 

"After the game," he said in the clubhouse, "everything was extremely beautiful. I looked back at what had happened... the ovation when I went out to warm up... then chanting my name, calling for me to come back out... 15 wins in a row and the knowledge of the concentration and consistency they represent. I was aware of a lot of things."

 

The last lines of my story the next day reflect how the town felt about him, how the media felt about him.

 

"The next really big night of his life will be Monday, when he stages the Second Steve Carlton Baseball Festival.

 

"Plunge into the maddening traffic early with a full tank of gas. Pack a supper. The good things in life are worth a little aggravation.

 

"Steve Carlton is here and now. He is all we have. Enjoy, enjoy."

 

Nobody who watched the late Karl Wallenda walk the wire across the Vet on Sunday, Aug. 13 that season between games of a doubleheader will forget the greatest Giles promotion. The tension was unbearable. Carlton set the stage for Wallenda's first ballpark walk with a 1:48 victory over the Expos. It was his fourth straight game he won in less than 1:50. His last two-hour game was July 21, when he shut out the Dodgers in 2:00 flat.

 

WHILE THE GREAT Wallenda prepared to walk, Carlton talked about his Gatling-gun pace.

 

"When I first came up with the Cardinals I was pitching so fast it was messing me up," he said. "They had to slow me down. I'm more mature now and I can handle it without my concentration being affected. But working fast can still throw my mechanics off. I don't think my arm was in the same plane twice the whole game today. I was lucky I had a fastball I could blow by somebody when I had to. My curve was in the dirt most of the time and I don’t  think I threw five strikes with my slider all day."

 

His 15-game streak ended on Aug. 21. Phil Niekro outdueled him, 2-1, in 11 dramatic innings. Mike Lum won it with a broken-bat single over Larry Bowa.

 

"I don't think I have to lose one sooner or later," he said. "I only permit myself to think in that direction after the game's lost – I never think of the possibility of losing before the game. I go out there to win them all."

 

Then he grinned and called down the clubhouse to Bowa's locker. "Hey, Bowa," he grinned, "you got to play Lum deeper next time."

 

Catcher John Bateman supplied the kicker line.

 

"Or higher," Lefty's 1972 catcher dead-panned.

 

It is 1980. Lefty does not choose to run. Or regale the press with his insights.

 

He is into martial arts, a physical program that would weary a marathon runner, fine wines and powers of concentration worthy of a Samurai warrior.

 

 

Silent or vociferous, one aspect of his career remains constant. The man can flat-out pitch.

Dallas Wants More Green

 

By Bill Conlin

 

Dallas Green will sit down with Paul Owens, the Phillies GM, and Ruly Carpenter, the owner. sometime today.

 

He will tell them what they have already read in the newspapers, already heard on radio and TV. For the first time they will hear it from their once and future manager.

 

"I will tell Paul and Ruly that I'll comply with their wishes that I return as the field manager next season." Green said last night. "I'm prepared to bite the bullet again even though I would prefer spending the next season or two working with Paul as his righthand guy."

 

Hold all tickets, though, the result is not yet official.

 

There remains a slight matter of money to discuss. It turns out Green has a figure in his mind of what the manager of a world championship baseball team should earn in the current inflated market. He has not yet laid that figure on Owens or Carpenter.

 

GREEN EARNED $65,000 last season to rank among the lowest paid uniformed Phillies employees. His predecessor. Danny Ozark, earned $100,000 in 1979.

 

"The only thing that could change my mind about not coming back at this point would be Ruly turning the money down," Green said. "And I'm going to bomb him pretty good."

 

Dallas will ask Carpenter for a one-year contract that will pay him in the vicinity of $150,000.

 

"I know pretty much what the top guys are making," he said. "I know that a Joe Torre is now in the $100,000 range managing a sixth place club and I think a guy who helped the Phillies achieve a lifetime goal should be paid near the top of the ballpark."

 

The Phillies were planning a formal press conference with full trumpets and flourishes for Green to formally announce a decision most experts figured would be inevitable. But Dallas not only scooped most of the area's media, he scooped his bosses.

 

"I haven't told anybody yet," Green said. "The guy who called me Monday night assumes a lot."

 

THEN HE laughed. He knew he had told the wire service man who called him enough to have burned a Walt Whitman-sized bridge behind him. "Ah, the guy was asking me about Steve Carlton's season with the Cy Young announcement coming up today," Dallas said. "And I told him pretty much what my feelings have been all along, that the timing is probably not right now for a change. I've told Paul Owens I'd be happy to come upstairs and serve as his righthand honcho for a couple of years. But he has the feeling he should retire when I get up there. He doesn't want to feel he's leaning over my shoulder.

 

"I feel as the second guy, I would be in a position for Paul to teach me a lot of the new stuff. As farm director I was in my own little world. A lot of stuff has slipped by since then. We're into a new basic agreement. I want to learn how he deals with agents, all these complex contracts. I ilst feel I'd be better prepared to take over when Paul retires if I worked by his side for at least a year."

 

But Dallas has put in 25 years in the organization, 24 of them working for the relatively low wages of the minor league department. He might not enjoy this kind of financial leverage the rest of his career. At the same time, he knew Owens never seriously considered step ping down at age 57.

 

"Paul, in his own mind, wants to put together a club we can repeat with," Green said, "one which will leave the next manager in pretty good shape when we do make a change. Paul has said to me, 'I'd like to win this thing a couple of years,' that we're not gonna rest on our laurels.

 

"Sylvia and I sat down and talked it over. We agreed the money was starting to look interesting, that we had to think about putting the kids through school and building some security.

 

RULY WILL swallow hard when Dallas lays the numbers on him. Green might do some hard swallowing of his own if the owner says, "I think you're a little on the high side, Dallas."

 

"I think The Pope will be in my corner," Green said. "I don't think what I'm asking for will bother him. He made sure I was taken care of when I agreed to take the job last year."

 

Green was ready to visit the Phillies Florida Instructional League entry today. First things first. The trip is off until tomorrow.

 

After he formally accepts the 1981 field manager's job, Dallas will try to catch up on next season's decisions and revisions.

 

 

“Paul got sick as a dog at the general managers meetings last week, so I don't even know what clubs we're talking to. We haven't discussed the re-entry thing at all. We still have to iron out a couple of things, and I want to get my end ironed out once and for all. I plan to do that today."