Wilmington Evening Journal - February 1980
February 1, 1980
LaGrow joins Phils’ bullpen
PHILADELPHIA – The Phillies signed free agent Lerrin LaGrow yesterday in a move that could go a long way toward strengthening the bullpen.
LaGrow, 31, pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers last season while playing out his option. Only the Boston Red Sox selected the right-hander in the re-entry draft, so LeGrow was free to sign with any club.
"He's a pretty good pitcher," said Paul Owens, the club's player personnel director. "He had a couple of little physical problems last summer, but he came back with a very good September. I know two other clubs in our league were after him so I'm tickled we were able to sign him to a major league contract."
The Chisox dealt LaGrow to the Dodgers in early May, sending him over with an 0-3 won-loss record for 11 appearances. LaGrow came up with a bone spur in left heel – post-season surgery has corrected it – and then developed a sore arm. As a result, the veteran spent much of August on the disabled list.
LaGrow came back with an almost-perfect September. In nine appearances, he won three games, saved two and allowed one earned run. Overall, in 31 games for the Dodgers, LaGrow finished with a 3.41 ERA, a 5-1 record and four saves.
"He was very impressive in late-inning pressure situations in September," said Manager Dallas Green. "We're gambling that he's back in the form he displayed with the White Sox. He could fit very nicely in the pen and help Ron Reed and Tug McGraw."
Indeed he could, if last September was an indication. In fact, for two years with the Sox, LaGrow was one of the better relief pitchers in the American League. In 1977, he saved 25 and won seven. In '78 he won six and saved 16.
February 4, 1980
Dallas Green ‘roast’ benefits sclerosis society
Dallas Green, manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, will be roasted by the Delaware Chapter, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, April 14 at the Hotel du Pont.
Master of ceremonies will be Al Cartwright of the News-Journal papers.
February 12, 1980
Taylor, Carey named ‘minor’ aides by Phils
PHILADELPHIA – Tony Taylor and Paul Carey have been appointed to minor-league positions by the Phillies.
Taylor, a former player and coach with the major-league Phillies will serve as a roving infield instructor, while Carey from Scranton, Pa., will manage the Bend, Ore., team in the Northwest Rookie League.
"I offered Tony the Bend job and the instructor's position," said Howie Bedell, the Phillies' Director of Minor Leagues. "I had openings for both and Tony gave the option. We talked several times and Tony has notified me he'd prefer the instructor's position."
As a roving instructor, Taylor will work with the Phillies young infielders from the Triple-A level down to the rookie teams. He will also join Phillies Manager Dallas Green's staff for spring training until March 15th when 150 minor league players begin their training in Clearwater, Fla.
"During the season, he'll be directed to different clubs to work with specific individuals. With his experience, I'm also toying with the idea of having him do some work with outfielders and maybe even catchers," Bedell said.
Taylor was a coach for the Phillies for the last three years. When Lee Elia was promoted from a minor league managerial position to a Phillie coach, Taylor was removed from the staff because of pension problems. Had the Phillies kept Taylor on the staff, Elia wouldn't have been eligible for the pension plan even though Tony had reached the maximum 20 years of service. The Phillies attempted to change the rule but were unsuccessful.
Carey, 26, was a catcher in the Phillies' system from 1972 to 1975. He's been a coach in the minor leagues since 1975.
February 13, 1980
Phillies’ Green at Sallies’ fete
Phillies Manager Dallas Green will be the principal speaker at tomorrow night's 32nd annual banquet of the Salesianum Alumni Association at Padua Academy Cafetorium.
Sallies' graduate Vince Rizzo will serve as toastmaster at the 6:30 p.m. banquet which will honor 81 senior athletes from 11 sports. Each senior will receive a St. Francis de Sales medal inscribed with his initials.
Representing football at the head table will be Dick Anderson, assistant coach at Penn State; Eagles linebacker John Bunting; former Sals' player Kevin Conlin, who completed his collegiate football career last fall at Rutgers; and former Sallies' captain Kevin Reilly, who played for the Miami Dolphins, Eagles and New England Patriots following an outstanding career at Villanova.
Sidney Maree, a distance runner from South Africa now attending Villanova, will be at the head table, along with Delaware soccer coach Loren Kline and his MVP Scott Thompson. Another speaker will be Salesianum graduate Steve "Sid" Cassidy, a record-setting swimmer at North Carolina State currently ranked fourth in the world by the Professional Marathon Swimming Federation.
"We expect 600 at the banquet, but we still have some tickets available," said ticket chairman Ed Tucker last night. Tickets may be obtained at Salesianum School.
February 15, 1980
Gross big hit as pinch hitter at Salesianum banquet
By Matt Zabitka, Staff Writer
Last year, seeing only part-time duty with the Phillies, outfielder Greg Gross earned $85,000.
After the season was over, the left-handed hitter from York, Pa., became a free agent and was drafted by nine teams, including the Phillies.
One of less than a handful of .300 hitters on the club (he batted .333), the Phillies didn't want to release their hold on the 5-foot-10, 165-pound, 27-year-old favorite of the fans. So the Phils the past December signed him to a five-year pact, with a "guesstimate" value of $1.1 million.
But all that gold isn't making the graduate of the Goldsboro (Pa.) Little League sit back and think of easy street the rest of the way.
He regrets not getting a college education.
Last night at the 32nd annual Salesianum Alumni Sports Banquet at Padua Cafetorium, where he proved a solid hit as a speaker, Gross discussed his future during an interview following the affair.
"I had a bat and glove in my hand ever since I could walk," he recalled. "I was always playing baseball, always wanted to be a ballplayer. The first organized type of baseball I played was in the Goldsboro Little League, right across from Three Mile Island.
"In high school, I was an average student – C's and B's. I did it without a whole lot of studies; I never worked at it real hard.
"It's very disappointing now as I get older that I didn't put more effort into it. But, hopefully, next winter I can get started and go back to school and start my college education, which I think is important. Hopefully, by the time I'm done playing baseball, I'll have a degree.
"I've been checking schools out and been in contact with people at Villanova, West Chester State and a couple of other places that are close to where I live in Berwyn.
"I definitely want to take some courses as far as coaching goes. I'd like to maybe coach sometime in high school or college. Right now, it would probably be very basic. Maybe some business background that I can apply after I'm done playing."
Gross, who broke into pro baseball as a 17-year-old outfielder in 1970 with Covington of the Appalachian League (he batted .351), has also discovered that baseball isn't a game of life and death, that there are more important things in life.
"Early last year, I was having a tough season," he recalled. "I struck out in a key situation with the game on the line. I went home, feeling sorry for myself and getting all caught up in what I was doing in my profession and everything.
"I was really mad, having failed in a key situation where we needed a run to either tie or win the game, I forget which. When I got home and walked in the door, my daughter came flying around the corner and jumped into my arms. She said, 'Hi, daddy. I love you,' like she usually does. It made me feel real good.
"It made me realize there are a lot of other things out there besides playing baseball and doing well, and from that day on I sorta had a different outlook on what was happening and I was even more relaxed when I was playing baseball. I think that was one of the reasons I had a good year."
Asked what kind of a role he anticipated the Phillies would use him in 1980, Gross said, "Right now, it's pretty much of a fourth-outfielder-type situation. Basically, what I did last year. I'll fill in defensively at times late in the game, pinch hit coming off the bench, and spot start for people giving them a rest now and then.
"The thing I'm looking forward to, I think Dallas (Green) is the type of manager that's going to utilize his bench and I think that's going to be good for me. I think I'm going to see more playing time this year than last and hopefully we can put everything together. But right now, I'm looking at being, basically, the fourth outfielder."
Did he notice any vast differences in managing between Danny Ozark and Green, Ozark's successor?
"Dallas is a more out-going type," he said. "He's, like he says, more of a holler-and-screamer type. He carries a little more discipline than what Danny did. Danny pretty much let the players do what they thought they had to do.
"But, as I've said before, I think players need a little discipline and I think that's the key ingredient that Dallas is going to bring to us this year, especially in spring training, getting us ready for the season."
Gross, attired in light brown slacks, a snappy sports jacket and a white shirt open at the collar, was impressed with the 81 Salesianum senior athletes, all decked out in white jackets, white shirts with black bow ties and black pants. He liked the discipline displayed in dress ana attention by the athletes seated directly in front of the dais.
"I think that (discipline) which was evident here tonight is important. I don't care if it's in high school or in our profession. I think in baseball, particularly, you have a bunch of grown men playing what I call a kid's game. Their egos are big. Their feelings get hurt easily. I think they, too, need some guidance. I think it's a place where you need discipline, no matter how old you are."
Gross noted that during the off-season he keeps in shape, working out regularly at the ballpark, getting ready for spring training.
"I don't hold down any kind of a job. I had some business interests, real-estate-type things, when I lived in Houston. I got out of that. I spend my winters enjoying my family. I do an occasional banquet now and then.
"I just finished a caravan thing with the Phillies into the Pennsylvania coal regions. No, I wouldn't say I was the hit of the caravan. No, not really. I think Pete (Rose) probably was – Pete and Larry (Bowa). Both did real well.
"This is really the first winter I've done any speaking at all. It's relatively new to me. It's not bad. I enjoy meeting the people and I like trying to convey a message. I just hope that in the future I get a lot better at it. I enjoy it; I have fun at it."
Gross is happy now at being a Phillie, but it wasn't like that when he first learned he had been traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Phils in February of 1979.
"At first, I was happy to get to the area. I grew up in York, Harrisburg and the Goldsboro area. That part of it, I was thrilled to death. But I knew coming over here they had a set outfield and everything and it was really sort of depressing in a way, because I knew I wasn't going to get to play at all."
During his banquet speech. Gross made comments about most of the Phillies' starters. About Pete Rose he said, "I don't have anything to say about him except that he's ugly."
"Now, in the post-banquet interview, he was asked if he was game enough to name his All-National League Ugly Team, like the late Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Danny Murtaugh used to do.
"That's a tough one," he broke into a chuckle. "I use Pete because he fits into my jokes. He being a new guy to the club, you can use him. Pete's a good sport. Matter of fact, on last week's caravan we needled each other the whole time. We switched jokes for different people. We had a good time. It was all part of the fun on the winter circuit."
At the start of last night's bash, toastmaster Wayne Rizzo, who contributed immensely to the success of the affair, explained that principal speaker Dallas Green had to cancel out because he was sick. Green sent a pinch hitter, Greg Gross.
As things turned out, Dallas Green would have had to be hotter than a firecracker to outdo the pinch hitter he sent here last night.
Greg Gross was a smasheroo. Other fine speakers during the evening were John Bunting, Eagles' linebacker; Kevin Conlin, the ex-Sal who played at Rutgers; Sydney Maree, Villanova's long-distance runner from South Africa; Justin Cause, the Sals' senior athletes' representative; and former Sal football captain Kevin Reilly, the only man on the dais who rated a thunderous standing ovation.
February 20, 1980
Phils add Amaro
PHILADELPHIA – Ruben Amaro, an 11-year major league veteran and the Phillies' Coordinator of Latin American Scouting for the past six years, will be the Phillies' first base coach for 1980, Manager Dallas Green has announced.
Amaro, 44, will replace Tony Taylor who recently was named a roving minor league infield instructor for the Phillies.
February 21, 1980
Speed, defense Phils’ key: Rose
NEW YORK – Pete Rose says harder work under Manager Dallas Green will bring a brighter year for the Philadelphia Phillies, who finished 84-78 in an injury-plagued 1979 season. "All the guys we had injured have recuperated and are ready to go. We're going to be all right," Rose said yesterday.
Rose, who switched to first base last season, conceded he "really neglected my offense in training camp last year and everybody pushed the panic button. But if I get in shape too soon, I lose the edge of working hard every day."
Green, who took over as Phils' manager after Danny Ozark was fired last August, prefers "a different type of ball – sacrifice-bunting rather than running," said Rose, who believes "speed and defense" will characterize players of the future. "Most owners are trading and concentrating more on pitching. Home runs are no good unless there are guys getting on base in front of them."
Rose, who conceded he is "one of a very few players who still get paid if they (the players) strike," said he hopes contract negotiations "don't come to that (a walkout). A lot of players make a lot of money," said Rose, whose four-year contract tops 3 million.
A walkout, he believes, would "really hurt the sport because there are people who don't forget. But we have to stand together and I'd have to consider staying behind" with teammates who decided to strike.
February 27, 1980
Phanatic struck out with Engel
By Matt Zabitka
Hey, not everybody loves the Phillie Phanatic.
Ask Dave Raymond, the former Delaware football player who lives inside the costume of the furry creature with the bulging eyes, over-sized shoes, strange beak, a tongue that shoots out like a slithering serpent and a balloon-like front and rear end that shakes like a bowl of Jello when he struts.
During a Phillies' game at the Vet last season, the Phanatic had this gimmick he was trying. He was walking toward umpire Bob Engel, carrying a tray with a pitcher of water on it. The Phanatic accidentally tripped "on purpose" and the water spilled on Engel, whose reaction vividly indicated that he wasn't exactly ecstatic.
"He didn't say anything to me at the time of the incident," recalled the Phanatic, "but after the game he asked to see me in the umpires' dressing room. There I was, standing in the room in my shorts, socks and ripped T-shirt, and Engle really lit into me. He wasn't emotional, just stern, sounding like a father reprimanding a son. He told me that I wasn't to come near him or the rest of his umpiring crew at any time for the rest of the season, that I wasn't to touch any of his men at any time.
"Naturally, I stayed away from him and his crew the rest of the year. He's not a bad looking guy. He's built like a middle linebacker. I had heard a lot of good things about him from other umpires. Actually, it was my fault.
"Generally, most umpires are good about it and play along with the gimmicks. One of the best is Eric Gregg. He's like a big kid. I don't see how anybody can even argue with him.
"I don't get to much trouble from players. Among the Phillies, I guess I'd have to say I have the most fun with Tug McGraw and Bake McBride. Pete Rose is also great. When I'm in costume Pete really plays along. When I get Pete to laugh the crowd goes crazy. The fans love to see Pete show emotion.
"After Pete hurt himself in a game last year, running into the (rolled-up) tarpaulin while chasing a foul ball, I imitated him. Pete just put his head down and he couldn't stop laughing."
While Phillie players are now converging on Florida for spring training, the Phanatic started on his "spring training" a long time ago, right here in his Delaware backyard.
For one thing, he's learning how to roller skate, something which he admits he has never done.
"Putting roller skates on the Phanatic is among the new gimmicks I'll be using this year," he said. "Another gimmick might be putting skis on the Phanatic, as well as ice skates. I've ice-skated before so that part will be easy. The ice skating could take place on a special type of plastic, using special shoes.
"Last year, we added a disco song, "The Freak," to which the Phanatic. dances. The fans love the Phanatic do current things and more ideas along that line may be added this year. Hopefully, this will done during a break in the game, like the fifth inning, and maybe the Phanatic could get the fans in the stands . to also dance. That doesn't take away from the game. It adds to it."
Also this year, the Phanatic will have an "away" uniform, plus a warmup shirt, and maybe a catcher's outfit or an umpire's uniform "to make him look more ridiculous than what he is."
A definite addition for the Phanatic will be a small vehicle, something like a motorcycle, on which he can buzz around the stadium.
"This vehicle will be smaller and faster than the one used to bring in pitchers from the bull pen," the Phanatic noted.
As the Phanatic and as Dave Raymond, the guy in the funny suit is contracted to put in a 40-hour work week. When not making personal appearances in the role of the Phanatic, Raymond works in the Phillies' ticket office at the Vet.
"Personal appearances have priority," he pointed out. "The rest of the hours I make-up in the office. I enjoy being the Phanatic much more. That's one of the best jobs anyone could have. It's fun and it's rewarding. It's most rewarding when I perform for mentally retarded children and school kids.
"A good thing about the job is that after a Phillies game, while players are hounded for autographs, I can walk right out of the stadium without anyone recognizing me: I can walk to my car in minutes, while the players are detained for 40-45 minutes before they can get to their cars."
Last year, Raymond, as the Phanatic, made road trips with the Phillies to Houston, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. He also performed at Phillies minor league ball parks, in Bend, Ore., Helena, Mont., Spartanburg, S.C., and Peninsula, Va.
"The reaction among the fans in the minors was as great if not greater than in the majors," he said. "That's because they've been exposed to this sort of thing by guys like Max Patkin."
Raymond also accompanied a collection of American and National League stars to Japan the past November for a series of exhibition games.
And, yes, Raymond does have a Phanatic "back-up," but there hasn't been an occasion as yet to use the sub. "If I get sick and can't make a Phillies game or a TV appearance, it's in my contract that a back-up cannot be used for those occasions," Raymond explained.
In anticipation of the 1980 baseball season, Raymond has been lifting weights at Delaware and also at the Vet, where during the past months when time availed itself he engaged in workouts with Phillie players on the Vet AstroTurf.
"I still eat like a pig, but I don't gain weight," he said. "Being inside the Phanatic costume I lose about five pounds if not more each game. That's good for the cardio vascular system. It's like running a couple of miles."
Like the players, he's psyched-up as he looks ahead to the season opener. I'm not looking forward to the hours I have to put in (mostly all night games) but it's an awful lot of fun. I have a captive audience. They come to see a ball game and I'm like an added attraction."
He couldn't even come up with an estimate of the number of autographs he has given. "It has to be in the thousands," he sighed. "I've even been asked to autograph peoples' arms. Most of the autograph requests are made during personal appearances away from the ballpark."
His multitude of appearances have included parades, television, visiting hospitals, Bar Mitzvahs, store openings, birthday parties, plant safety meetings, and lots of banquets.