Sports Illustrated - September 29, 1980

Baseball – N.L. East


By Kathleen Andria


Mookie and Wally may sound like a couple of characters in Leave It to Beaver, but actually they're the new one-two punch of the Mets (3-3). "The kids," as 25-year-old veteran Lee Mazzilli calls them, are Walter Wayne (Wally) Backman and William Hayward (Mookie) Wilson. (One story has it that Mookie got his nickname from his grandmother because he couldn't say "milk.") In 17 games since coming up from the minors on Sept. 2, Wally has hit .339 with nine RBIs and Mookie is batting .296 with four doubles, three triples, five stolen bases and 13 runs. In the Mets' three wins last week—against the Cubs, Expos and Pirates—Wilson and Backman got 15 hits, including two doubles and two triples, and scored 11 runs.


In losing to the Mets, the Pirates (2-3) looked as sickly as their ace reliever, Kent Tekulve, who has lost 10 pounds from his skinny—usually 170-pound—6'4" frame because of a virus. Jim Bibby, 17-5, beat the Phils 3-2, allowing only two hits in eight innings. "He's been their Steve Carlton all year," said Manager Dallas Green of the Phillies (3-2). Green's own Steve Carlton worked the following evening but needed relief from Tug McGraw, who got his second win of the year, both against Pittsburgh. McGraw called himself the Pirate MVP last year, because his ERA against Pittsburgh was 12.00. Rookie Marty Bystrom won twice and is now 3-0.


The Expos' prize rookie, Bill Gullickson, tossed a three-hitter to beat the Pirates 4-0. Gullickson, a diabetic, began to feel dizzy during the second inning of the game in Montreal, but a candy bar, a soft drink and bites of a sandwich gave him strength to continue. "From then on, it was the Pirates who were dizzy," said Montreal (4-2) Manager Dick Williams as Gullickson won his third game.


The Cardinals (3-3) beat the Cubs (2-4) twice at Wrigley Field. Cubs Manager Joey Amalfitano used 20 players in a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia but complained afterward that he had only one non-pitcher left. Of course, he would have had more had the Cubs expanded their roster to 40 men on Sept. 1 as the rules allow. Maybe the Cubs are short of funds, which might explain why owner William Wrigley raised the wholesale price of some of its chewing gum on Sept. 2.


MONT 82-66; PHIL 80-67; PITT 77-71; ST.L 67-81; NY 63-85; CHI 57-90