Allentown Morning Call - September 24, 1980

Phillies’ hold on 1st is short-lived


ST. LOUIS (AP) – Rookie lefthander Al Olmsted held Philadelphia to three hits through eight innings and the St. Louis Cardinals scored , three times in the second inning to defeat Philadelphia 6-3 and knock the Phillies out of first place in the National League East last night. 


Olmstead, who won his first major league decision, gave up three hits in the ninth, including Mike Schmidt's 43rd homer, and was replaced by John Littlefield, who got his ninth save. Littlefleld allowed a sacrifice fly to Del Unser before getting the final out.


The Phillies, who took over first place Monday night, are now one-half game behind Montreal in the East, with Pittsburgh four games back. 


St. Louis put together four hits for its three runs in the second. Dan Iorg singled, was sacrificed to second by Olmsted and scored on Ken Oberkfell's single, with Oberkfell taking second on the throw to the plate. 


Oberkfell then scored on a single by Garry Templeton, who went to third when Keith Hernandez singled. Templeton scored the third run of the inning when starter Bob Walk, 10-6, bounced a pitch in front of the plate that got away from catcher Bob Boone. 


The Cardinals scored again in the fifth on Ted Simmons' bloop single. 


The Phillies picked up their first run in the seventh when Schmidt led off with a double and came home on Manny Trillo's single. The run snapped Olmsted's scoreless string against the Phillies at 15⅔ innings. In his first major league start at Philadelphia on Sept. 10, Olmsted went 9⅓ innings without giving up a run, but did not figure in the decision. 


The Cardinals added two runs in the eighth on four singles, with Olmsted and Oberkfell getting the RBI.

Division play:  This is what it’s all about


By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor


Forget, for the moment, that baseball has four divisions. Go back 12 years ago when it was simply the National League and the American League – no National League East or West, and no American League East or West. 


Here's how the standings (top teams only) would look going into last night's games:



Houston 86 64 .573 -

Los Angeles 84 66 .560

Philadelphia 82 67 .550 3½ 

Montreal 82 68 .547

Cincinnati 82 69 .543

Pittsburgh 79 71 .527



New York 96 54 .640

Kansas City 92 59 .609

Baltimore 91 59 .607


It would be pretty dull, wouldn't it? Sure, neither Houston nor New York would have had their league titles won, but it wouldn't be as much fun as it is today. Look at the division standings and you'll get the picture. 


The man smiling in the background is Bowie Kuhn. 


Okay, so he got his head knocked in the other day on the Ferguson Jenkins case. He's been down that road before – on a variety of issues. Pick on Kuhn has been a favorite baseball pasttime. 


But it was Kuhn who pushed for division play when he took over as baseball commissioner early in 1969. He might have been thinking about a Kansas City runaway at the time. 


Whatever it was, it was for the “best interests of baseball." With pro football crowding out the baseball scene at this time of the year, baseball had to do something to stay "alive." 


September would have been very dull without a pennant race. Now, we've got two of them, both in the National League. 


To make things even better, the contenders in both National League divisions will be playing head-to-head. Three cheers for the schedule-maker – he lucked out this year. 


More on that in a minute.


Notice that the Phils would be skating on thin ice, 3½ games behind the Astros without division play. Instead, they are on top of the Eastern Division. 


And look at the Pirates. They are on thin ice so as it is, but when lumped with the entire league, they'd be seven games out with no chance at all.


Kansas City won in a waltz, but if it was just THE American League, the Royals would be fighting for their lives, 4½ games behind the Yankees, who have the best record in the major leagues. 


The real interest is in the National League where both divisions have three-team races and both divisions will have the top two contenders playing each other in the final series of the season. 


Baseball experts say that this should easily be the most exciting , finish in the history of division play in the National League. 


In the East, the Phils and the Expos end the regular season with a three-game series in Montreal. It is a series that has a good chance of deciding the winner.


To make the East even a little more exciting, the Phils and the Expos have a three-game series this weekend at the Vet. Can you handle that? 


The six games that the Phils and the Expos have left is what is keeping the Pirates alive. If the defending world champs can keep on winning and if the Phils and Expos split the six games they have against each other, the Pirates are right in the race. 


"I guess that's what we are hoping for," said the usually optimistic Chuck Tanner, knowing very well that his team is going to need some help from somebody down the line.


The National League West has some excitement, too. The two leaders, L.A. and Houston, will meet at Dodger Stadium in the last series of the year. The Reds are hanging in, thanks to their success against the Dodgers this past weekend. 


While the Astros and the Dodgers are going head-to-head on the final weekend, the Reds will have to contend with the Braves, a team that has come along in a big way in recent weeks.


What it all boils down to is that whichever team wins its division, it will have to earn the title. 


This is what Bowie Kuhn and the rest of the baseball bigwigs were thinking about in 1969 when they decided a couple of divisions is better than one league. 


Stay tuned.