Reading Eagle - February 8, 1980

Larry Bowa On Target


By John W. Smith


Larry Bowa has grown up in more ways than one.


He’s a much better hitter, a more mature individual, a more acknowledged leader than when he first came up to the Phillies.


He’s also a much better speaker.


There’s no question Bowa was the hit of Wednesday’s Phillies press caravan in Pottsville with his Don Rickles one-liners. He was on target as much as he is with his throws.


“Greg Gross gets up and talks for 20 minutes,” Bowa began. “He calls himself an extra man. Let me tell you, extra men talk for two minutes and the regulars talk for 20.


“Then Randy Lerch tries to talk. Tell you what, Randy. Next time write it out and I’ll read it for you.


“Dallas is going to get up and tell you about ‘Repair and Prepare.’ I’ve heard that so much I think I’m working on the Schuylkill Expressway for PennDOT.


“Let me tell you about Paul Owens as a general manager. He goes out and gets up Pete Rose and Greg Gross. They both hit .330 and we go from first to fourth.


“Bill Giles will ask you come down and see the games. So you write for tickets and you’ll wind up in the 750 level (applause).


“The Phillie Phanatic gets 20 minutes in the highlight film. If that’s the best thing that happened to us all year, we’re in trouble.


“Mike Schmidt. As long as he doesn’t think, there’s no telling what he can do.


“Bob Boone’s a Golden Glove catcher. Golden Glove, now that’s a joke,” Larry added, with no explanation necessary.


Defending Danny


Bowa did get serious at one point, though. He seemed eager to defend Danny Ozark, who had been unflatteringly compared with Dallas Green in Lerch’s speech. (“The difference is night and day. Danny would sit back and say, ‘You know what to do, go do it.’ Dallas is like a cheerleader, he likes to get involved,” said Randy.)


“It’s totally wrong to blame the manager,” Bowa told the diners. “It was a lot easier to fire one man than 25.”


Everybody was talking about the 1979 injuries, of course. The highlight film does a superb job of showing one Phillie falling after another. There haven’t been that many bodies tumbling in a film since the last John Wayne epic.


“But it wasn’t only injuries,” Bowa insisted. “We really didn’t execute the way we should have fundamentally.”


Larry, who “guaranteed” a world championship during the caravan’s 1979 visit to Reading, wasn’t making any guarantees this time. But he did tell the diners, “We will be back.”


The Willies Again


Greg Gross also pleased the crowd with his dead-pan humor, as he did the Hot Stovers gathering the week before. He changed his speech somewhat, though it dealt with the same topic, the extra man.


“I like these caravans, because I’m in shape for sitting on the bus,” he cracked.


Green told the diners the same story he told the Hot Stovers about giving up a longer home run on the fastball Gene Mauch wanted him to throw than on the earlier curve.


The only difference was that this time the batter was Willie Mays instead of Willie Stargell.


“You must have given up a lot of long home runs in your career,” suggested somebody who attended both functions.


“If you don’t like the jokes, don’t listen to them,” said Dallas Green.


You can bet he won’t tell that to any of his squad members who don’t like what he has to say about working hard in spring training.