Philadelphia Daily News - September 2, 1980
It’s 1st for Phillies!
By Bill Conlin
SAN FRANCISCO – The Phillies are in first place. Dont ask how or why. Enjoy it while it lasts.
The Phillies are in first place. Hold the drum rolls and flourishes, please, until the tongue-whipping Paul Owens gave them yesterday stops echoing in their ears.
The Phillies are in first place by a hummingbird's eyelash. The last team to perch atop the Eastern Division standings, the Pirates, got there by losing only one while the Expos were losing two.
THE PHILLIES are in first place. They didnt get there with a dazzling breakaway run. This was more like a weary football team finally knocking it in on its fourth try from the six-inch line. The drive to first place consisted of seven victories in their last 14 games.
Sunday afternoon's 10-3 horror show in San Diego was still etched on their minds when The Pope mounted the clubhouse pulpit and blistered them with a graphic pre-game sermon. Earlier in a morning with more conferences than Salt II, Garry Maddox met with Manager Dallas Green and apologized for two Sunday errors caused by the centerfielder's unprofessional failure to wear the sunglasses which were as close as his back pocket.
"He offered to stand up in front of the team, but I told him I didn't think it was necessary," Green said.
After all the lectures, apologies, reaffirmations of team unity and group goals are over, it helps to have Steve Carlton pitching.
On a sun-washed afternoon when he didn't have his best stuff, the great lefthander racked up his 21st victory, a scuffling, 6-4, complete-game decision over a Giants team which has played the Phillies as tough as almost anybody this season. Carlton scattered seven hits, ran his strikeout total to 241 with nine and helped make life difficult for himself by failing to cover first base in the fourth inning, an oversight which cost him a run.
FORTUNATELY, the Phillies had a 10th man in their lineup. Giants centerfielder Bill North. The swift but erratic leadoff man turned a two-out, runners-on-first-and-second single by Larry Bowa into an extra run in the fifth.
Greg Luzinski came trundling home from second on Bowa's semi-liner to left-center. Manny Trillo went to third on the ball, made a wide turn and drew a throw by North that sailed over everybody and clattered off the Phillies dugout. Manny walked home and Carlton had a 4-2 lead which lasted only until a sacrifice fly by Jim Wohlford and Mike Ivie's two-out single tied it in the seventh.
Once more, however, the Giants defense came unglued and North had his hand – or arm if you prefer – in the middle of a two-run eighth. Bowa legged out a one-out infield single, went to second on a wild pitch by reliever Greg Minton and scored on Bob Boone's single to center. North's lollipop of a throw to the plate was cut off by Ivie, but not before Boone took an extra base. Carlton singled off the glove of shortstop Johnnie LeMaster and, incredibly, Boone tried to score from second on the play. LeMaster threw him out by 15 feet But Carlton ambled to second on another wild pitch and scored when Rennie Stennett butchered a routine ball to second by Greg Gross.
To resurrect Green's favorite cliche, it was grind-it-out baseball at its unlovely best.
IF YOU'VE already read the togetherness theme 10 or 15 times this season, skip ahead. If this team gets much closer it will be able to take batting practice in a phone booth.
"I think out of yesterday's game (Sullen Sunday in San Diego), we got some good things done teamwise," Green said. "I think we're closer together as a ballclub right now than we have been in a long time. The people involved recognize what we're trying to do and have said publicly that's what they want to do. That's win. Hopefully, carry over and carry through for the next 30 days."
The Phillies have been sentenced to 30 days at hard labor. "Paul met with the team, reaffirming his beliefs and I think it was good for the team to hear his thoughts," Dallas said.
Some general managers would be as out of place chewing out a ballclub as Ronald Reagan discussing the role of big business to a migrant laborers' union. It is a job for a man used to rolling up his sleeves and getting a little dirt under his fingernails.
"He's such a fan of this team," Pete Rose said. "He loves so many guys on this team because he put 'em in the minors and developed them, signed 'em up. He's more like a father to this team than a general manager. He takes defeats and victories really serious. The Pope probably means more to a team than other general managers, than an Al Rosen was to the Yankees, a Dick Wagner to the Reds. He developed Bowa, Luzinski, Boone, Christenson and Lerch, traded for some other key guys, signed me. He just hates to see us play bad. He hates to see us play non-aggressive baseball."
OWENS ALSO talks the earthy, expletive-punctuated argot ballplayers understand. When The Pope talks, you better believe everybody bleeping listens.
"When he speaks all the ballplayers know he didnt go to Harvard or Yale," Rose said. "He speaks a baseball player's language. He was a manager and a player. He told us what we already knew, that we wasn't playing very well the last couple of days. It's better to do it before we approach a big week like we're about to approach."
Green will approach the rest of the big week with a four-man rotation. The Manager says he'll go down the stretch with Carlton, Larry Christenson, Dick Ruthven and Bob Walk. "I talked to the four pitchers involved and there's no problem with any of them," Green said. "Lefty's worked a lot with three days rest during his career, including the first couple of months this season. Ruthven's arm strength is the best it's been all season. The same is true of Christenson and I think Bobby Walk will pitch better if he doesn't have an extra day to sit around thinking about his last start."
In case you nodded off during Saturday night's doubleheader split in San Diego, the Phillies were in first place after their first game victory for about two hours. With a night game here tonight, the Phillies are guaranteed at least a 30 hour run at the top.
The limited warranty on first place in the East expires at midnight, though. Before it's over, somebody will turn into a pumpkin. "It's gonna be a helluva race," Green said. "A lot of fun. And I think we'll win it.”
PHILLIPS: Tim McCarver was back in uniform yesterday and his first game appearance will make him the first four-decade catcher in major-league history... Rookie righthander Marty Bystrom, one of the minor leaguers called up, was scheduled to start tonight, but his name was erased from Dallas Green's pitching menu after the manager decided on a four-man rotation... Lonnie Smith, who has been thrown out in eight of his last 19 stolen base attempts, appeared to have elusive No. 29 in the sixth inning. He was ruled safe, but overslid the bag and was tagged out by Rennie Stennett. Smith played center without adventure, went 2-for-3, scored a run and raised his average back up to.349... The Phils shrugged at the news that Montreal has picked up Willie Montanez for the stretch run. "I'm just glad Pittsburgh didn't get him," Pete Rose said. "Willie can still hit and he would have helped fill the left-handed hole left by Willie Stargell being hurt."... Larry Christenson vs. Vida Blue tonight.
22 Win as Phillies Labor
There were 22 winners in the Daily News Home Run Payoff during the Labor Day weekend.
In the eighth inning of yesterday's Phillies-Giants game, Doris Burton of Philadelphia won $35 on Bob Boone's RBI single, Chris Hofheinz of Glen Riddle won $10 on Larry Bowa's single and Vince Esposito won $10 on a base hit by Steve Carlton. Winners of four tickets to a future Phillies game were Philadelphians Clarence Fetters and J.W. Young and Rita Polomano of Broomall.
In the fifth inning of Sunday's Phils-Padres game, Tom Ulatowski of Philadelphia won $35 on Keith Moreiand's RBI single while Philadelphians Anna M. Schreiber and Ernest A. Jones each won $10 on singles by Pete Rose and Bake McBride, respectively. Winners of four tickets each were Philadelphians Glenroy Robinson, Leroy Johnson and Charles Mills.
In the eighth inning of the first game of Saturday's Phils-Padres doubleheader, Dorothy Bowers of Philadelphia won $10 on a single by Bob Boone. Winners of four tickets each were Carmen Tarquini of Philadelphia, Clifton Brown of Marcus Hook, T. Kelvin Talley of Wilmington and Don Palermo of Drexel Hill.
In the third inning of the second game, Bill Jacons of Boothwyn won $50 on Nino Espinosa's double, Robert Doland won $35 on an RBI single by Pete Rose, and Ron Gayer won $10 on a single by Lonnie Smith. Winners of four tickets each were Philadelphians Sebastian Toto, Chas. Thomas and John Rimgaila.
To date the Daily News has paid out $16,685.
Today's entry coupon appears on page 62.