Wilmington Evening Journal - September 22, 1980
Old film key to Luzinski’s bat recovery
By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor
CHICAGO – The old black-and-white, silent movies flicked across Paul Owens' office wall.
"Run it back once more," said Owens. "OK, now put 1977 up next to it... Fine, that's good."
Paul Owens sat in the dark on the afternoon of Sept. 15 watching footage of Greg Luzinski batting – the good years, when the Bull bad one or the fastest bats in the East and West. After Owens had studied the film, he had Bob Searle, the Phillies' cameraman, run some of the video tapes of Luzinski batting this year.
Finally, after over an hour, Owens detected a small, but maybe important, difference. When Luzinski was going well, there was a little motion to his left knee as he strided into the ball. In his latest at-bats, he was merely going straight at the ball.
"I felt he was more ready to swing the old way," said Owens, the team's vice president and player personnel director. "I mentioned it to him on the flight to Pittsburgh that night."
The Phillies whipped Chicago 7-3 at Wrigley Field yesterday and Luzinski blasted his 18th homer off loser Dennis Lamp in the third and ripped a double in the eighth off reliever Dick Tidrow.
By winning, the Phils reduced Montreal's lead in National League East to a half game. The Expos lost to St. Louis 4-1. Both teams are even in the loss column and the Phils have 14 games to play compared to Montreal's 13.
"I really appreciated the Pope taking time to look at those films," said Luzinski. "You know I have a lot of respect for him and I think that little flaw in my swing was hurting me. My bat was not quick enough the way I was striding.
Although Owens says he has no business getting involved with field matters, deep down inside he will always be a field man, yearning to put on the uniform and actually get ,-involved in the game. Although be has been an outstanding general manager, the Pope has never fit the role of the executive who sits in a stuffy office wearing a three-piece suit.
When it comes to Luzinski, Bull has always been one of his favorites. Owens watched him mature into one of the best hitters in the National League and it kills him to see him have such a terrible time at the plate.
"I don't want to make a big deal about it," said the Pope. "Billy DeMars is our hitting instructor and has done a good Job. It's just that sometimes you need another opinion. I know the Bull as well as anyone, so I thought if I could detect something, it would help him. The best of doctors sometimes ask others for advice."
When the Phils split two games with Pittsburgh, Luzinski had just one double, but hit the ball as bard as anyone on the team and that continued when the team came here.
On Friday night, Sept. 12, the Phils dropped a costly doubleheader to St. Louis. In a scoreless tie in the 10th inning, they loaded the bases with one out. The game ended with Luzinski bouncing into a double-play.
Manager Dallas Green, however, continued to start the Bull and some of the reporters kept asking why. Wouldn't Lonnie Smith be better?
"I've seen the Bull do a lot of good things for this team," said Green. "When we were winning the division championships, he was awesome. Forget about his .224 batting average. If he gets in one of his good streaks, he could be very important the last month of the season. And you can't fault his defense. I think he as played better defense this year than he has in a long, long time."
"I have had a tough time, no doubt about that," said Luzinski. "I have just worked as hard as I can and tried to battle myself back. I am forgetting about the batting average. I figure if I can swing good the two weeks, I'll be OK."
Luzinski, of course, was on the disabled list from the All-Star Game to Aug. 24, after undergoing knee surgery.
"When the Bull is swinging well, it takes some of the heat off Schmidt and McBride," said Green. "They're more apt to get pitches they can hit."
Yesterday's game was closer than the score until Ron Reed put down a Cubs' rally in the sixth by getting Larry Biittner to fly out with a run in, two out and runners on first and second. After that, Reed retired the next nine Cubs in a row and the Phils added single runs in the eighth and ninth, the last coming on Mike Schmidt's 41st homer of the year.
Bob Boone, who says he thinks his swing is finally in a good groove, had two doubles and a single, while Garry Maddox and Manny Trillo each had two important hits.
"I jammed my finger when I slid into third base in Pittsburgh," said Maddox. "After that, I was having trouble swinging the bat. Jeff Cooper (assistant trainer) put a little cushion on the bat where I place my little finger. That made a big difference; I wa much more comfortable."
EXTRA POINTS - Boone, who was 0-for-8 in the two-game Pittsburgh series, had six hits here and did not play on Saturday... Pete Rose is in the record book again, this time passing Nellie Fox for consecutive seasons with 600 or more at-bats... This was Pete's 13th consecutive year and 16th overall... The Phils lead the season series with the Cubs 9-5 and finished the year at Wrigley with a 5-3 mark... Steve Carlton goes against the Cards' Pete Vuckovich tonight in St. Louis, with Bob Walk facing Bob Forsch tomorrow night.