Camden Courier-Post - January 13, 1980

Luzinski learned a lesson the hard way in ’79 season

 

By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post

 

PHILADELPHIA – Greg Luzinski made a mistake. He knows it now. And, he won't make it again.

 

"I've had some time to think about what happened to me last season," explained the Phillies' burly left fielder. "One thought keeps coming back.

 

"I think about George Foster of the Cincinnati Reds, who also pulled a leg muscle during the year. Only, George didn't try to tough it out. He was smart. He told people how hurt he was and then he went on the disabled list.

 

"Foster took the time to get himself healthy again. And, when be came back and started doing his thing, people said he had a heck of a year considering the time he was able to play."

 

It has been a while since The Bull (who took a different approach than Foster) has talked to anyone about anything. He has been busy at Veterans Stadium getting his legs in shape and working with Coach Billy DeMars in an all-out effort to put the thunder back into a batting stroke that was once considered a classic.

 

He knows there are people out there who believe he will never be able to generate the kind of power and consistency that made him one of the most respected hitters in the National League.

 

He knows there are people out there who flatter themselves by thinking they are among the "most knowledgeable" fans in America, but don't even have enough sense to figure out that the Greg Luzinski they booed last year was the direct result of the man making the wrong decision for the right reasons.

 

"This whole thing has changed my thinking about injuries," said Bull. "And, I'm not making excuses. I don't have to do that. I've got my short batting stroke back. I can feel it... the same stroke that I know will produce 35 to 40 home runs if I can keep it going.

 

"But, you asked me. And, I'll tell you.

 

"I think my leg was hurt worse than I ' thought. I tried to come back too soon. I taped it up and went out there. Which is no big deal. We had others on the team last year who pushed themselves physically despite injuries.

 

"What's important is that my going out there produced all kinds of bad hitting habits for me. I kept trying to find myself at the plate while I was still hurting. That just made it worse."

 

There were days when Greg couldn't get out of bed because of the pain in his pulled left thigh muscle. He said nothing because he was angrily fighting the whirlwind of frustration that was pulling him down – the pressures of a team that desperately needed him to regain his batting prowess, the tension of wanting to save a manager (Danny Ozark) whose job became less secure with each defeat, and the lack of understanding demonstrated by a number of fans.

 

"Dr. (Phillip) Marone said the only way the leg was going to get better was for me to stay off it," recalled Luzinski. "But, I don't think anyone else realized how bad it was, because I downplayed it."

 

Now that he's healthy, Greg has had little difficulty in fitting together the pieces to the puzzle of his batting stroke. He sees now how his bad left leg forced him to cut down on his stride into the ball, thus instigating a bigger. less effective swing with his upper body.

 

"I don't hit that way. My swing is short and compact." said Greg. I'm back to that now. We filmed my swing this week and compared it to the swing I had a few years ago when I was going good It is the same swing.

 

"And incidentally, before you ask. my weight at the end of last season was just three pounds heavier than when I was hitting so well. I'm working now. Ruly (Carpenter) is happy that I'm trying to improve myself."

 

Luzinski. who will once again be using his Cherry Hill tennis facility to host a celebrity tournament (Feb. 9th) to help the American Cancer Society, is looking forward to helping the Phillies make a comeback. He also sees the 1980 season as a personal challenge. He is not, however, looking to vindicate himself with the fans. He thinks he learned a lesson the hard way in 1979 and he suspects some people in the stands should rethink the kind of year they've had.

 

"Some of them showed their colors when they booed Behn Wilson in the middle of the win streak," said Bull "They booed Henry Bibby. And, they booed Ron Jaworski in the first half of a game he came back to win. The Houston Oilers lost and 80.000 fans turned out for them The Eagles lost and 100 showed up That should tell you something. Some of the fans are trying to live up to their national reputation "

 

Looks like Bull means business this time around.

Snider would like to pull Pee Wee into ‘Hall’

 

By Will Grimsley of the Associated Press

 

NEW YORK – The odyssey of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, around whom author Roger Kahn spun a romantic web in the "Boys of Summer," took a poignant twist when another of the magical clan, Duke Snider, strode that yellow brick road into baseball's Hall of Fame.

 

The "Duke," now a snow-haired, distinguished-looking figure of 53, was voted the honor this week along with another hard-hitting outfielder, Al Kaline, 45, the onetime boy wonder of the Detroit Tigers.

 

For Kaline, a batting marvel who collected more than 3,000 hits and just one short of 400 home runs, it was the rare privilege of gaining entrance to the museum in his first year of eligibility. For Snider, it was the end of an agonizing 11-year wait.

 

"I was reaching the leveling-off period," Snider said at the announcement ceremonies. "I was concerned that if I didn't make it this year I might never make it at all."

 

Then, in the course of his reminiscences of "those good old days" in the 1940s and 1950s, the Duke suddenly became sentimental and gave the impression that he hated to make this most important of all his baseball journeys without some of his Dodgers buddies, principally shortstop Pee Wee Reese.

 

"Without Pee Wee, I wouldn't be here," he said. "When I came to the Dodgers, I was moody and temperamental. He did a lot to change me. I can't understand why Pee Wee and Phil Rizzuto (of the Yankees), two great shortstops, have never made the Hall of Fame."

 

Some critics have said that the Hall of Fame, whose members are chosen by a vote of baseball writers, is overladen with home run sluggers while "glove men" are repeatedly overlooked. Examples cited include, besides Reese and Rizzuto, such standout fielders as Eddie Miller, Marty Marion and Luis Aparicio.

 

"Pee Wee was the guts of our ball club," Snider insisted.

 

He cited, along with Reese's fielding and leadership contributions, the team captain's value in cooling the racial tension after Branch Rickey brought up Jackie Robinson in 1947 to break baseball's color barrier.

 

"Jackie was getting all the ink then," Snider said. "All the other clubs were trying to break him. Everywhere we went, the crowds were on him. Jackie was frustrated mentally. "So Pee Wee would take Robinson out in the middle of the diamond, put his arm around Jackie's shoulders and talk to him intimately."

 

Jackie frequently said, '"Without Pee Wee, I couldn't have made it."

 

Robinson, who was almost blind when he died of a heart disease in the fall of 1972, and catcher Roy Campanella, who suffered a broken neck and paralysis in an automobile accident in 1958, are the only other "Boys of Summer" who have been named to the Hall of Fame.

 

They were a swashbuckling, colorful band, those denizens of old Ebbets Field.

 

"I was actually born in Los Angeles but I always felt I was born in Brooklyn," Snider related.

 

"I remember, when I started, we got a dollar and a half a day for meal money. Once when we had bus trouble and worked only half a day they gave us 75 cents."

 

Someone asked him what was the highest salary he ever made.

 

"Forty-six thousand dollars," the Duke replied. "We didn't think much about money then. Pee Wee didn't care what Jackie made. Jackie didn't care what Carl Furillo made. Nobody cared.

 

"Man, if I made a million, I would come in at six in the morning, sweep the stands, wash the uniforms, clean out the offices, manage the team and play the games."

 

Snider spoke of ancient Ebbets Field with reverence.

 

"The closeness of it," he said with a nostalgic sigh. "The fans were so close you could hear them whisper. When we moved to Los Angeles, the Coliseum was so big we got lost."

 

The "Duke" said he would never forget watching those big black iron balls – "looking like oversized baseballs" – knock down the right field wall at Ebbets Field.

 

"When they tore down Ebbets Field, they tore down part of us," he said. "We wept."