Philadelphia Inquirer - September 5, 1980
McGraw and Russell bury the hatchet+
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – Tug McGraw returned to Los Angeles last night for the first time since throwing at Bill Russell in Philadelphia. He had a feeling he was not going to be quite as warmly received around LA. as, say, Jackson Browne.
So last night, before the Phillies played the Dodgers, McGraw stepped onto the field attired in somewhat unusual garb, even for baseball players.
Atop his Phillies cap rested a black combat helmet. Over his trusty Phillies jersey he wore green Army fatigues.
"I'm trying to camouflage myself," he said. "Makes it tougher for the snipers to hit me."
But in the other dugout, Russell was waiting for him – in boxing gloves. They stalked ominously toward each other, converged and then punches started flying.
Fortunately, they were flying in the direction of L.A. sportscaster Stu Nahan, who had staged the whole thing. In Hollywood tradition, it was all show biz.
McGraw, as you might recall, drilled Russell 11 days ago at the Vet after giving up a base hit during an intentional walk. But he realized Russell hadn't done anything. So the next night he apologized.
Of more concern to McGraw than boo birds or the latest military fashions was good old-fashioned relief pitching. And that's what McGraw did in saving Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Giants.
"It felt good to pitch well again, particularly after the night before, when we had to go into extra innings because of me," McGraw said. "But man, to do what Bru did took some kind of guts."
He meant, of course, Warren Bruss-tar's fight out of a bases-loaded, no-out mess Tuesday, culminated by his nine-pitch duel with Joe Strain. McGraw was thinking about that when he had to battle Mike Ivie for 10 pitches with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on second.
"I was incredibly pumped up," McGraw said. "I suppose it was the pennant race. Out here you see the scores on the scoreboard early. So I knew if we could win it, we'd be in first. And I just figure the more pitches you have to make to a good hitter, the tougher it is to get him out."
Finally, though, Ivie missed a screwball for strike three. And McGraw let loose with a high-jump.
Phils’ Walk shuts down Dodgers, 3-2
By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES – The baseball record books say Bob Walk had never thrown a pitch in Dodger Stadium before last night. The Los Angeles Police record books might tell you different.
Walk was actually 18 when he threw his first career pitch in Dodger Stadium back in 1974. He wasn't in uniform then. He wasn't even on the mound. He was just "one of your typical crazies," he says, putting away a beer or two in the bleachers in left-center – "where the rowdies sit."
He yanked a tennis ball out of his pocket, heaved it at Houston center-fielder Cesar Cedeno and the cops promptly hauled him off to the station. So much for his Dodger Stadium debut.
But last night Walk returned to the scene of the crime. Literally. And things went a little better. This time he was actually throwing real baseballs. At the Dodgers.
They ripped only four of them for hits in seven-plus innings. And though L.A. made it dramatic after Walk left, the Phillies held on. Their 3-2 win ended a seven-game L.A. winning streak.
The loser was that other Cy Young award candidate, Jerry Reuss (now 16-5). Before last night, Reuss was a remarkable 11-0 against the five National League teams besides the Dodgers who make up The Contenders.
Speaking of those contenders, the Phils now lead both the Pirates and Expos by a game. It is their fourth straight day atop the NL East.
Walk grew up in nearby Van Nuys, cruising the streets every Wednesday night in an orange 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner.
"Caught fire one night 'on Van Nuys Boulevard," Walk chuckled. "Had to have it towed home."
He came back in style, though. Pitching in front of 20-plus friends, relatives and fellow rowdies, he took a three-hit shutout and a 3-0 lead into the eighth.
But Davey Lopes drilled a leadoff single, Walk went 2-and-0 to Jay Johnstone and Dallas Green brought on Warren Brusstar.
"I wanted the shutout real bad, but I knew I was struggling," Walk said. "I don't know exactly what I was doing wrong. But that inning it felt like my arm was dragging. When I'd try to throw the fastball, it seemed like the ball was slipping on me."
So Walk contentedly let Brusstar come on to close it out. Except Brusstar wasn't quite the brilliant Sutter clone he was Tuesday.
He got Johnstone for the first out of the inning. But then Dusty Baker golfed a decent sinker over the wall in center for his 27th homer, and it was 3-2. Baker has the only two homers off Brusstar since Sept. 25, 1977, which covers 130 innings.
Steve Garvey and Rick Monday then ripped singles around a strikeout of Ron Cey. So it was time for Tug McGraw for the third straight night.
McGraw got his intentional-walk nemesis, Joe Ferguson, for the last out. Then he pitched a scoreless ninth to wrap up his 17th save, and third on the trip.
Among other things, this game marked the renewal of the wonderful relationship between Michael Schmidt and Reuss.
To Schmidt, Reuss is Wrigley Field rolled into one body. No matter how badly Schmidt might look sometimes – and he had looked bad enough to fan seven times in his last 13 at-bats before last night – where there's Reuss there's hope.
Last night Schmidt marched up there in the first with Lonnie Smith on second and one out. Reuss started him out with a fastball down the chute.
Schmidt popped those wrists, and the ball wound up in the bleachers in right, 390 feet away. It was Schmidt's eighth career homer off Reuss, more than he has hit off any other pitcher, active or retired, living or dead.
Schmidt also singled off Reuss in the fourth. He is a mere 6-for-11 (.546) off him this year.
Remarkably enough, Schmidt's homer was his first in any California ballpark this year. He hit 10 on the coast last year, including six at Dodger Stadium.
Besides giving Walk a 2-0 lead, it also ended a Phillies home run drought that had stretched back to Aug. 24 – 11 games and 99 innings ago.
"I thought I threw the ball good in San Diego," Walk said. "But the two before that I was having a lot of trouble throwing strikes. I think I was trying to overthrow the ball. I just wasn't able to control my excitement. You're supposed to use your excitement to create concentration. But I was just getting too excited."
His first moment of even near-crisis came when Mike Scioscia slashed a one-out liner to center in the fifth. Garry Maddox tried to shoestring it, didn't get close and the ball hopped past him for his third error this week. How amazing is that? Pretty amazing, since it's one more than Maddox committed during the entire 1979 season.
So Scioscia was on second. Derrel Thomas moved him to third with a ground ball. But all Walk had to do to get out of the inning was put away Reuss. He didn't. He walked him on five pitches, so that gave him Davey Lopes to mess with instead.
He went 2-and-0 to him. And that meant it was time for the regularly scheduled visit to the mound by Herm Starrette, his pitching coach. Starrette and Walk have met more this year than Begin and Sadat. After Starrette left, Lopes ripped the next pitch at Schmidt. And that was the inning.
Finally, the Phils got Walk another run. Reuss tried to get a 2-2 breaking ball down and away to Greg Luzinski with nobody out in the seventh. But it wasn't down enough, and it wasn't away enough.
The Bull rammed it into the Dodgers' bullpen in left for his 17th homer. And Walk was three runs up and nine outs away from the homecoming of his dreams.
"I used to come here about three or four times a year as a kid," Walk said. "But I never really envisioned myself playing down there. I always did kind of want to walk out there and check out the mound, though."
He finally got his wish last night. It turned out he was better at throwing pitches from there than he was from left-center.
NOTES: The Phillies brought their longest home-run drought since 1962 into last night's game – 10 games, totaling 98-2/3 innings. The team record is 12, set by Pancho Herrera and friends in both 1960 and '61.... It raised some eyebrows Wednesday when Dallas Green was making defensive replacements in the eighth and inserted George Vukovich instead of Garry Maddox, especially because Maddox hadn't started since his sunglasses crisis Sunday. But Green said he "just wanted to get some playing time for the other guy (Vukovich)."... Steve Carlton vs. Don Sutton (9-4, 2.25 earned-run average) tonight.
Since the break…
Before the Red Sox and Cubs made the September swoon an art form, baseball lore had it that teams leading their divisions at the All-Star break were destined to finish there in October. Two leaders still lead: Kansas City and the Yankees. The other two are right there: Houston and Montreal. Coming on strongest since July 11 have been the Orioles. The Mariners almost dropped into Puget Sound. Here's the breakdown: