Philadelphia Inquirer - September 21, 1980
On beanball decision, it helps if the umpire is a mind reader
By Allen Lewis, On Baseball
News Item: "Directors of the American League at their annual mid-season meeting adopted drastic measures to curb the growing use of the beanball by pitchers.
"A sheaf of complaints was presented from owners who protested that certain pitchers were deliberately pitching to the heads of batsmen in order to make them timid.
"The directors did not fail to heed these protests. Fearing that players might be severely injured or perhaps killed by being hit in the head with fast pitches, they took the necessary action. They passed a ruling that a pitcher throwing a beanball would be removed from the game for a first offense. For the second offense, he would receive 10 days suspension without pay, and for the third offense, 30 days suspension without pay.
"As it turned out, there were no more complaints about the beanball after the penalties were made public."
In part, that reads as if it might have been a 1980 news item. In fact, the meeting referred to took place on July 11, 1932.
The biggest difference between then and now is in the matter of retaliation. Nowadays, the hitter usually charges the mound, precipitating a brief skirmish. Half a century ago, the batter usually bunted down the first-base line, forcing the pitcher to cover the bag and to run into the path of the hitter, who either spiked or tackled his adversary, usually starting a minor brawl.
The problem with the 1932 ruling is the same as with today's less drastic one. It often requires the umpire to be a mind reader.
NOTES: How much is advance scouting worth? The Reds, who have the best advance scout in baseball in Ray Shore, had him cover the six games the Braves and Pirates played in late August and early September. The Braves pounded Pirate pitching and won all six games, the last three at home. The next night, the Reds began a three-game series at Atlanta against the Braves, who had won seven straight games and had been the hottest team in baseball for several weeks. The Reds not only won all three games, but the Braves scored just two runs in the series.... George Brett says he doesn't expect to play third base for very many more seasons. Sounds as if he's getting ready to (ugh) be a DH.... The Dodgers, their hand forced by Dusty Baker's fine play this season, will meet the outfielder's demands for a long-term, high-rent-district contract before Nov. 1. Otherwise, he would become a free agent.... It all depends on whose ox is being gored. Pirate Bert Blyleven, who charged the mound when Phillies pitcher Kevin Saucier hit him with a pitch May 26, knocked down the Braves' Gary Matthews twice in a 3-2 loss. Matthews had homered twice in the last game Blyleven had started against the Braves.... If their teams fail to win division titles, it wouldn't be any real surprise if both Tom Lasorda of the Dodgers and Dick Howser of the Yankees were fired. And there are three other managers in each league who may not be back Joe Torre of the Mets, Joey Amalfitano of the Cubs, Jerry Coleman of the Padres, Don Zimmer of the Red Sox, Tony LaRussa of the White Sox and Pat Corrales of the Rangers. Torre and Zimmer have earned another shot but may not get it.... Dodgers pitcher Jerry Reuss says there's a sure-fire way to get traded. First, buy a house in your present team's area. Then, get elected club player representative.
The answer to last week's Trivia Question: Bucky Walters, who broke in as a third baseman with the Boston Braves and turned to pitching in 1935 while with the Phillies, and Bob Lemon, who made his debut with the Indians in 1941 as a third baseman and became a pitcher in 1946, both later became big league managers. Anthony Zimmermann of Philadelphia was first with the correct answer.
This week's question: When the Phillies won the 1950 pennant on the last day of the season with a 10-inning victory in Brooklyn, center-fielder Richie Ashburn threw out Cal Abrams at the plate to keep the Dodgers from winning the game in the ninth inning. Name the catcher who tagged out Abrams.
Schmidt powers Phillies
Hits 40th homer in win over Cubs
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
CHICAGO – Marty Bystrom carried that neat 0.00 earned-run average into a wind tunnel known as Wrigley Field yesterday.
He might as well have been carrying a tray full of strip steaks into Lion Country Safari.
Bystrom needed eight shutout innings to tie the big-league record for most scoreless frames at the start of a career. But the day was as appropriate for that kind of pursuit as it was for the pursuit of the world four-man bobsled record.
A furious breeze gushed straight out toward center field. Ramon Aviles looked like Reginald Jackson in batting practice. Bystrom's best shot at this record was probably to get hit with a line drive in the first inning and come back to go for it in some tamer park.
But nobody aimed one at him. So he will just have to settle for a 7-3 win over the Cubs, a scoreless-inning streak that ended at 20 with a Dave Kingman homer in the fourth and the knowledge that there are a lot of other breakable records in the world.
"I knew sooner or later it was gonna get broken up," Bystrom philosophized. "I couldn't go on like that forever. Nobody can. Hey, I won the ball game. That's all that matters."
Wrigley has a reputation as the ultimate pitcher's horror chamber. But when Bystrom got to the park, he wondered what all the commotion was about.
"Hell, Oklahoma City is tougher than this," he shrugged. "Here today, the wind was blowing straight out. But yesterday it was kind of blowing across. Well, in Oklahoma City it blows straight out every night, 30 or 40 miles per hour. You give up a popup, it's gone.
"I pitched there for two years. And I saw a lot of pitchers go out and worry about the wind. But I don't worry about it. If they hit one out, they hit one out. Why worry about it?"
All those nights in Okie Land came in handy yesterday. It would have been easy to get worried just watching the Phillies' first. Pete Rose doubled. Bake McBride walked. Mike Schmidt crushed his 40th homer off the screen that runs in back of the bleachers in left-center. The 23-22 game didn't begin much differently.
Bystrom began the bottom of the fourth up, 4-0, thanks to back-to-back doubles by Manny Trillo (3-for-4) and Aviles in the second. But National League batting leader Bill Buckner led off with a base hit. Then Kingman golfed a fastball over the 400-foot sign in dead center. Oh, well.
"I thought about the streak ending there," he said. "But I said, hell, if Kingman hits one, that's not gonna worry me. He can hit them off anybody."
With Bystrom's race for history out of the way, the Phillies had to turn their attention toward simply escaping with a win. And just about every inning was a struggle.
Bystrom wriggled out of jams in the fourth and fifth. Garry Maddox jumped his 10th homer over the bleachers in the sixth, and it was 5-2. Three singles off Bystrom in the bottom of the sixth made it 5-3. It also began another episode of "Meet the Bullpen."
Kevin Saucier was first He hadn't pitched in four weeks. There were men on first and third, lefthanded contact hitter Larry Biittner at the plate.
Biittner chopped an 0-2 pitch softly into the second-base hole. No way, Saucier thought, he gets a double play out of that. But hold on. Trillo scooped the ball up in the hole and rifled it to Aviles. Larry Bowa's fill-in really gunned the relay back to first. And a remarkable double play had saved a run.
It turned out they weren't through. In the seventh, Saucier gave up a ieadoff single to Ivan DeJesus (3-for-5) and hit Jesus Figueroa with an 0-2 pitch.
But Trillo and Aviles bailed him out again, turning Buckner's slow chopper to Trillo into another double play. Dickie Noles then fanned Kingman on three pitches, and the Cubs never again had a good shot at ft.
"Those double plays, that was the key right there," said Dallas Green. "I thought the one on Biittner was the tougher one. That's the one he had to turn.
"The key on that is, you've got to nave a good turn (by Aviles). Manny's got to give him the good, hard feed. But then he's got to get the ball over there. A lot of times, guys just accept one (out) on that thing and say the hell with the other one."
But Aviles said he had no choice but to think two on both balls.
"You have to think about it," he said. "The first one, you've got a runner on third. The second one, you've got two men on. So I'm gonna go for the double play all the way.
"I thought the second one (on Buckner) was tougher. On Biittner, Manny had to go a long way to his left, but he gave me a good throw. On the second one I had to take the throw too far over. I had to reach, bring it back and then throw."
Aviles' professionalism in the difficult utility-infield role could easily go unappreciated. But he has hit.281, fielded solidly and never griped. After 10 glorious years in the minors, he would probably wash sweatsocks if it would keep him in the majors.
"I always look, though, at what the utility infielders on the other teams are doing," Aviles said. "I don't see anybody who's hitting as high as I am or who's playing as much as I am. So I figure I've got a better chance to stay with the club than any of those other guys with other clubs."
It was a perfect day to cast A Tale of Two Rookies. There was Marty Bystrom, the man to whom it had all come so easy. And then there was the other side of that story, a guy named Aviles who hung in 10 years just to get here. It's hard to say which one impresses you more.
NOTES: Trillo was 3-for-4 yesterday after going 3-for-his-previous-55. He did it using Del Unser's bat. "The way I was going, I figured I got to try something else," Trillo said. "That's why I'm trying to grow a mustache, too." Trillo dropped 30 points in his slide, from .319 to .289. Yesterday got him back to .293…. Schmidt still has more homers at Wrigley Field this year than Kingman, 7-6.... Lynn McGlothen, who served up the homers to Schmidt and Maddox, has allowed one homer every 6-2/3 innings this year (24 in 161 innings)... Dick Ruthven (15-10) vs. Dennis Lamp (10-11) today.