Philadelphia Daily News - September 5, 1980
Phils Play Lead Role
By Bill Conlin
LOS ANGELES – In case you've been wondering why you're still watching TV reruns, the actors are on strike out here.
You couldn’t prove that last night at Dodger Stadium, the world's largest permanent movie set.
Tug McGraw and Bill Russell showed up live on Stu Nahan's pre-game TV sports segment McGraw and Russell, you will recall, were recent main event combatants. Russell showed up on camera wearing oversized boxing gloves. McGraw featured a Marine-issue helmet liner and a camouflage jacket. On the front of the jacket he wore a pin bearing a ball superimposed on a bat. The ball would light up whenever Tug pulled a tiny string. "My sharpshooter's medal," he explained.
WHEN THE STRIKE ends and we film the Hollywood version of the Phillies 3-2 victory over the Dodgers, Jack Nicholson will play McGraw, Ryan O'Neal will play Russell.
Next, we had the ballgame, a stirring three-reeler.
McGraw would wind up wading through a roaring surf of boos – cut and print – to pick up his 17th save. Russell would end the evening coaching first base after Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda decided to treat the live audience of 41,864 to his own version of "Greatest Sports Legends." The part of Lasorda will be played by Rodney Dangerfield, if he can gain 40 pounds.
The Odd Couple started on the mound, how-even Jerry Reuss, tall, blond, handsome and 16-4 for the Dodgers, matched against The Fugitive, Bob Walk, tall, gangly, blotchy and wanted in the left-field bleachers since 1974 for disorderly conduct. Steve McQueen can play Reuss. How about John Belushi for Walk?
Walk hails from The Valley, where the pastime is cruising up and down Van Nuys Boulevard in metal-flaked autos which have been chopped, channeled, lowered, altered, neutered, upholstered, souped up and super-tired, their growly engines the mating call of The Valley's inexhaustible supply of teenagers, the same kids who made James Dean famous.
ALL WALK WANTED to do in the biggest game of his life was make The Valley proud of him. What the hell, his buddy, Denny, was in the stands, among a conservative 20 friends and relatives.
Denny was one of seven youths raising hell in the beered-up left-field bleachers the night in ‘74 when Walk was kicked out of Dodger Stadium for throwing a tennis ball at Cesar Cedeno and, therefore, a link to the past. Somehow, as the security guards led Bob to the parking lot, Walk knew he would be back to play a larger role than that of a disorderly person.
Well, Walk raised hell in Dodger Stadium again last night. He had a four-hit shutout going and a 3-0 lead when Manager Dallas Green came to get him after Davey Lopes led off the eighth inning with a single and he ran a 2-0 count on Jay Johnstone. This time Walk went quietly. He doesn't drive an orange Roadrunner at 95 MPH down Van Nuys Boulevard anymore on Wednesday nights, sending a 400 cubic-inch mating call into the shopping center parking lots. It is the late summer of 1980 and he's out there doing a man's work in the crucible of a pennant race.
Green – Charlton Heston can play Big D – went to mustachioed, scowling Warren Brusstar. Lee Van Cleef can play the Gunfighter role in his sleep. But Brusstar ran into a tough dude named Dusty Baker (is Jim Brown still acting?) after Johnstone skied a 3-1 pitch to center. Baker took Brusstar out of the yard in deepest right-center and it was 3-2.
AND THE DODGERS had runners on first and third when Green brought in McGraw.
The scripting here was perfect. Hitchcock lives! Lasorda sent Joe Ferguson up to hit for catcher Mike Scioscia. Ferguson was the guy who roped an intentional-walk pitchout for a two-run single at the Vet to trigger the Russell Affair.
"It's strange," Tug said, "but after the other thing, I never gave a thought to Ferguson. I was too upset with myself and my own emotional over-reaction. All I said to myself tonight was, 'Don't throw him a pitchout high and away."
Ferguson popped up.
McGraw got two quick outs in the ninth and there was Davey Lopes, the angriest Dodger after the brawl in Philly.
Lopes ripped a single up the middle. "He said he was gonna kill me," Tug said. "But he didn't say he was gonna beat me, so I didn't let him do it."
Now, it was Lasorda's turn to mug for the cameras. He has such a penchant for Grand Opera, perhaps Luciano Pavarotti should play the role.
The crowd started roaring from the moment that elderly first-base coach Manny Mota – a natural for Garrett Morris – who was brought out of retirement for the stretch drive, jogged from his station to the dugout. It increased while the pinch-hitting legend groped around for his bats and emerged to hit for Johnstone.
IT WAS MOTA'S first appearance since he was activated Sept. 1 and it was the worst mismatch since McGovern vs. Nixon.
Tug admitted to a degree of puzzlement when Mota came up to hit. It's tough to remember how you used to pitch a guy who is now a coach.
"I had to wrack my brain to remember how I used to get Manny out for 15 years," Tug grinned. "Boonie was thinking slider, I was thinking slider, and I got the ball in on him."
Mota bounced feebly to short, but the Phillies were not to take a one-game lead on the Pirates and Expos without a boffo finish. Incredibly, with a middle-aged man trundling toward first like a piece of fourth-class mail, Larry Bowa looked to second for a force. He didn't have one and wound up throwing a brick to Pete Rose at first. Dallas Green's heart skipped several beats before Rose made a fine scoop of the short-hopper.
Mike Schmidt (Peter O’Toole) and Greg Luzinski (Lou Ferrigno) provided all the offense the Phils needed to win their fourth straight and run the coast trip record to a gaudy 6-2. Schmidt escalated his career-high homer total off Reuss to eight with a two-run shot into the right-center pavilion in the first, his 36th of the season and the first by the Phils in 99 innings. Luzinski powered a solo shot into the Dodgers bullpen in the seventh inning.
"Schmitty, Bull, Bobby and Tug, that was our deal tonight," Green said.
"LOOKING BACK, it was a real big game." Walk said after running his record to 10-4, "first place and all that, first game of a big series and you want to get off on the right foot, get some "momentum going for the rest of the series. But personally, I wanted to pitch well, here, in this ballpark. There was a time when it would have been a big thrill for me to just walk across the grass here. When I pitched against the Dodgers in Philly I had the best stuff warming up I ever had in my career. In the game I was overthrowing and my ball didn't do any thing.
The Chavei Ravine Film Festival continues tonight with a duel of Academy Award winners Steve Carlton and Don Sutton.
Andy Griffith has been cast to play Sutton.
Unfortunately, silent-film star John Barrymore is not available to play the part of Carlton. Gary Cooper? Jimmy Stewart? Marcel Marceau?
Tube Sports (excerpt)
Compiled by Gene Quinn
A pennant race wouldn't be a pennant race without pitchers like Steve Carlton and Don Sutton to carry their teams. Carlton (21-7) is the main reason the Phillies haven't dropped far behind the Pirates and Expos in the NL East. And if the Dodgers expect to pass the Reds and Astros in the West, Sutton (9-4) must be their stopper.
Here are the pitching matchups for this weekend's Phils-Dodgers series in Los Angeles (Channel 17, tonight. 10:35; tomorrow, 10:05 p.m.; Sunday, 4:05 p.m.): Carlton vs. Sutton tonight; Larry Christenson (5-1) vs. Bob Welch (11-9) tomorrow, and Dick Ruthven (14-8) vs. Dave Goltz (7-7) Sunday.
There were four winners last night in the Daily News Home Runs Payoff contest. In the fifth inning of the Phillies-Dodgers game, winners of four tickets each to a Phillies game were Elizabeth Harms of Croydon, Pa., Ted Peters, Mary Haas, and Anna Brown, all of Philadelphia.
To date, the Daily News has paid out $16,695.
Today's entry coupon appears on Page 88.