Philadelphia Inquirer - September 26, 1980
Father, son not ‘fam-i-lee’
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
The family of Ozzie Virgil Sr., out in Scotsdale, Ariz., is having a problem dealing with the National League East pennant race.
Their problem is that the family of Ozzie Virgil Sr. (occupation: coach, Montreal Expos) is also the family of Ozzie Virgil Jr. (occupation: rookie catcher, Philadelphia Phillies).
"I don't know," said Ozzie Virgil Jr., "if this has ever happened before – a father and son going for the same pennant."
The family of Ozzie Virgil Jr. and Ozzie Virgil Sr. doesn't quite know who to root for in this weekend's PhiIlies-Expos series. But it is working on it.
''Um, let's see," Ozzie Virgil Jr. said last night. "My mom, she's with my dad, of course. Then I have a little brother and a little sister. My sister, she's with my dad, too. But my brother's with me. He's 7. We're pretty plose. I take him everywhere. He's got to be on my side."
Ozzie Virgil Jr. doesn't have to poll his dad. It's clear whose side he's on.
'"He's been leaving me notes everywhere we go," said Ozzie Virgil Jr. 'Really nasty stuff. He hasn't been nice at all."
The other day in St. Louis, Ozzie Virgil Jr. decided to retaliate. The Phillies moved into first place with a win over the Cardinals. So Ozzie Virgil, Jr. called his father in Pittsburgh and told him, simply, "The pressure is on you guys now."
The next day he found a message in his box at the hotel. It said, cordially, "Go s--- yourself."
This race is tough if your name is Ozzie Virgil. You just can't win. But the Virgil family will just have to look on the bright side. It can't lose, either.
NOTES: A mysterious character named Lonnie Smith started in left field last night. He was taking the place of Greg Luzinski, whose batting stroke hasn't been feeling well. Luzinski is 1-for-12, with six strikeouts, since Monday. And he is hitting.198 since coming off the disabled list Aug. 24. Dallas Green says he just wanted to give Luzinski a day off, but he should be back in there tonight. "I don't think this is critical," the manager said. "I just wanted him to go down to the cage for a day and hit like hell so we could get him ready for Montreal."... Smith hadn't started since Sept. 14, because Green decided his Opening Day Eight "deserved the chance to prove it can win or it can't win."... The Mets have lost 13 straight one-run games. The Phillies have won nine of their last 11.... The Phillies renewed their working agreement with their Triple-A club in Oklahoma City for two more years.... David Palmer vs. Dick Ruthven tonight.
First-place Phils ready for Expos
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
Tonight there will be no more scoreboard-watching, no more Montreal bulletins crackling over the radio.
Tonight the Phillies will find Les Expos right in front of their eyes. They don't have to count on Lynn McGlothen to beat Montreal or Jim Bibby to beat Montreal or anybody else who doesn't live in Philadelphia to beat Montreal.
Their fourth NL East title in five years is there for them if they want it. They will either win it or lose it on their own.
The Phillies made sure it was all in their hands with a 2-1 win over the Mets last night at the Vet. The victory pushed them a half-game in front of the Expos again.
They have 10 games left, six with the Expos. And tonight the two teams begin a three-game duel that is so big that even Dallas Green authorized people to brand it as, ahem, "fairly critical." That's about as dramatic as Green gets in the regular season.
"They've got to beat us now," Green said. "We're in first place, pot them. The shoe's on the other foot right now."
The difference between a half-game up and a half-game down might not seem real earth-shattering. But if means a Phillies win tonight would put them two up in the loss column.
"And they have to start thinking if they get two out with Carlton pitching the next one," said Pete Rose. "Then they have to win. They don't want to go three back.
"I don't think we've ever been in a situation where they couldn't catch us that specific day. If we win tonight it would take two days to catch us. That's a big thing to think about."
Another big thing to think about is that the Phillies managed to score three runs in two days against the Mets and still came out of it 2-0.
They are getting remarkably good pitching (from Marty Bystrom and Sparky Lyle last night). And they are doing a lot of little things right. They were also pretty lucky, but sometimes it takes that, too.
They got six whole hits against Pat Zachry, Roy Lee Jackson, Jeff Reardon, and Neil Allen last night. But they bunched four of them in one inning (the fifth), and that was worth two runs.
Manny Trillo, hitting .347 since he started growing his mustache, led off with what looked like your average high fly to right. But it somehow carried through the mist until it thunked off the wall. And Mets right-fielder Claudell Washington thunked right along with it. Washington didn't ricochet quite as far as the ball did, so it went for a triple.
Garry Maddox then picked out a nice fat breaking ball, lined it into left and it was 1-0. Maddox quietly has amassed 71 RBIs, five short of his career high.
Larry Bowa sent Maddox to second with another single. But Bob Boone flied to left, Bystrom bunted into a force at third and it came down to Lonnie Smith.
In case you can't remember Smith, he's that fast guy who used to play left field, hit .340 and steal 20 or 30 bases a week while Greg Luzinski was on the disabled list. Last night, Green gave Luzinski one night off to clear the cobwebs out. So Smith filled in.
"I was a little disappointed that I was back sitting and waiting, hoping to get a chance," Smith said. "In a way, I felt I didn't deserve to sit. I understand the reasons. But I hoped I'd at least get the chance to play in between."
If last night was going to be the final night of his Rookie of the Year campaign, Smith made the best of it. He fouled off two straight 3-and-2 pitches from Jackson, then thumped one through the middle and it was 2-0.
It didn't look as if Bystrom (4-0) would need much more. He had a six-strikeout one-hitter for six innings, had run just one three-ball count and got 16 of the first 18 outs on ground balls and strikeouts.
The Mets also had blown their best chance in the third when Zachry bunted into a double play and then tripped over the first-base bag and pulled a muscle.
Bystrom looks, said Green, "like he's destined for something great in the future."
But his stroll toward greatness was interrupted by a genuine Mets uprising in the seventh. Wally Backman singled. Lee Mazzilli lined out. But Steve Henderson also singled, sending Backman to second.
Washington then bounced one that Bowa snared behind the second-base bag. But he couldn't quite get a backhand flip to Trillo for the force. So the bases were loaded for Alex Trevino.
Trevino fouled off three straight 3-and-2 pitches, barely foul-tipped a fourth and then bounced a potential double-play ball to Mike Schmidt. But Trillo lost the handle on Schmidt's throw after getting the force, so Backman scored the first run ever off Bystrom outside of Wrigley Field.
Green decided Bystrom had had enough at that point. So on came Dickie Noles. He got Joel Youngblood to aim his line shot right at Bowa, so that was the exciting third out.
Lyle then entered and took aim at his second National League save. Doug Flynn immediately looped a leadoff single. But Rose made an important defensive play, pouncing on Frank Taveras' bunt and getting Flynn at second.
So Mookie Wilson's double didn't score anybody. It just meant Lyle had to get Mazzilli.
Lyle fell behind, 3-and-0. But Mazzilli missed one slider, fouled off a second, popped a third to Trillo and that was that. Lyle then breezed through a 1-2-3 ninth to clinch it. He hasn't been scored on his last five appearances.
"I still don't think Sparky's as good as he's going to be," said Green. "I don't think he has a real good feel with the slider yet. But that's mainly because of lack of work. He's going to get better."
So it is all there within the Phillies' clutches as they begin their series of the year tonight. They are the ones who can control whether the ending is happy or sad.
And "that," said Rose, "is the way it should be."
No relief for Quakers
Penn plays Lehigh, last year's Division I-AA national runner-up, in its 7:30 p.m. home opener at Franklin Field, and it appears likely that the Quakers' 13-game losing streak will continue.
The Phillies, meantime, open a crucial three-game series against the Montreal Expos at 8:05 p.m. at the Vet as the two teams go head to head for the National League East championship.
PHILLIES vs. Montreal at Veterans Stadium, 8:05 p.m. (Radio-KYW-1060)