Allentown Morning Call - March 16, 1980

Phils’ “Scroogie’ can become DEAD seroious


John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor


DUNEDIN, Fla. – Tug McGraw pounds his left fist into his glove like a guy trying to make a deeper pocket. He does it once, twice, three times. The more he pounds, the louder the thud. 


An idiosyncrisy for a guy with energy to burn. Even at age 35 (he'll be 36 in late August). 


McGraw is perpetual motion. He can't sit still, stand still, or even talk still. 


He's been called the club comic, the club cheerleader, the club lawyer. His name even suggests something out of a comic strip. Tank McNamara in real life. 


There is, believe it or not, a serious side of Tug McGraw. When he's working – and, as a relief pitcher, his work is measured in minutes, not hours – Tug McGraw becomes DEAD serious. 


Yesterday, against the Blue Jays, McGraw pitched the final two innings. He faeed six batters and didn't give up a hit. He looked strong. 


After the game in typical McGraw style, he joked about last year. "I was pitching up to the level of the team," he said of last year. Team play in 1979 was hardly championship caliber. 


More seriously, McGraw said, "My pride is too much to let me have another year like last year. I'm looking for a big year for myself. I'm looking for a big year for the Phillies." 


Overall, McGraw thinks the mental and physical condition of the Phillies' pitching staff will be dramatically improved this season under first-year manager Dallas Green. McGraw was not a fan of Danny Ozark's. 


"Anybody knows more about pitching than Danny did," McGraw said. "His biggest asset was that he was a very wonderful, nice man. His biggest weakness was he didn't know how to handle the pitching staff.


"Last year, he'd overuse Ron (Reed) and me and completely burn us out. Then, he wouldn't use us for three weeks. He didn't have any experience handling the staff and he wouldn't listen to his pitching coach (Herm Starrette). But you'd have thought after seven years they'd have that figured out.


He was very inconsistent with the bullpen, and as a result, I felt very uncomfortable almost all year and had trouble concentrating. I found it very hard to stay in any sort of groove. Finally, I started throwing a little better when Dallas took over." 


In his first spring as the new manager, McGraw said Green has done just that – he has taken over – and he compared the regimen adopted by Green to that of Gil Hodges who managed the miracle Mets to a World Series win in 1969.


"His (Green's) approach to the game is a lot like Gil's was with the Mets," said McGraw. "Gil was the best manager I've ever played for. But right now anything is better than what we had before. When Danny was the manager, we had a nonchalant) slow-moving, boring camp. There wasn't much direction or leadership." 


McGraw, who was down here early getting in "the best physical shape possible," said he thought it was funny when the Phils got Pete Rose because "everyone said we needed him for his leadership qualities.”


McGraw laughed. "Hell, you don't need to hire a player to lead the team. What's the manager for? Pete has enough responsibility playing first base and leading off.” 


Green's well-organized camp left an impression with McGraw. "The coaches are briefed on what's going on," he said, "and we are constantly in motion. There's no time to be bored because we never stop moving from the time we get out there.”


McGraw calls the Phils' pitching staff "the deepest in the league. He says, "The potential is there for a great starting rotation and a great bullpen. We've got the best talent in the league, like I said. We've just got to make use of it now." 


The Phils keep pointing to the luck of the Pirates last season. McGraw did the same. "If you took (Kent) Tekulve, (Bruce) Kison and (John) Candelaria out of the Pirate rotation and sidelined Dave Parker, (Willie) Stargell and (Tim) Foli for a while, they'd have a tough time winning anything." McGraw said. "That's about what happened to us." 


He added "You gotta keep the talent on the field, not in the trainer's office." 


McGraw is chided constantly about his age. Of course, the Phils try to chide him about everything because it is McGraw who usually throws the jabs. 


"Hell, I feel great, I'm planning on going strong through my 40th birthday," he said. "Anybody who writes me off because of my age doesn't know what he's talking about. I've been hearing that for the last three seasons, anyway, so it doesn't bother me anymore." 


McGraw is so serious about this season he even put "Scroogie" on the bench for the time being. "I'll bring him back when I retire," said McGraw of a cartoon strip he created. "Right now, pitching comes first."

Unser sparks 11-5 rout of Blue Jays


By Jack McCallum, Call-Chronicle Sports Writer


"I know I'm not part of the numbers game down said the 35-year-old Unser yesterday after the Phillies beat the Toronto Blue Jays 11-5 at Grant Field. "Dallas (Green, the manager) looked at what I did last year, I guess, and saw that I played in 95 games, hit .298, played some first base, some lef tfield and a little rightf ield. And I set that pinch-hit record, too. So, I guess he wants me to do the same thing this year. 


Yes, he does. Unser will back up Pete Rose at first, see some spot oatfield duty and, most of all, be called upon to routinely deliver Merriwellian pinch-hits, specifically of the four-base variety. Last season, he set a major league record when he hit home runs in three consecutive pinch-hit appearances. 


Unser, however, wasn't pinch-hitting yesterday. Rose, as well as several of the other Phillie regulars, stayed back at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater to work out, and Unser played the whole game at first. 


He knocked in five runs, three on a well-hit homer to right center in the eighth inning and one each on a sacrifice fly and an opposite field double.


"Yes, as I look around the league I suppose there are still places where I could be playing regularly," said Unser, who looks at least 10 years younger, "but I'm 35 now and I want to be on a winner. That's why I left "Montreal after the 1978 season True, they look more like a winner now but I feel I've got a better chance here. 


The only way Unser won't be in a Phillies uniform is if he's traded to another National League team before the June 15 intraleague deadline. It doesn't appear likely but, as someone who has worn five different major league uniforms since 1967 (Washington, Cleveland, the Mets, Montreal and the Phillies on two different occasions he's not counting it out. 


"I think I can help here and I think the Phillies know that," said Unser. "But I guess the year I had pinch-hitting made a couple of teams notice me again. It's kind of hard to find a specialist like that." 


Just then, a lady in a bright-flowered blouse came forward and put her arm around Unser's shoulder. 


"Hi, Del," she said, leaning close. "I just wanted you to know that we remember you in Washington and everyone still loves you there." 


NOTES: The possible trade with Baltimore was scrapped early yesterday morning by Paul Owens. Owens said the Orioles wanted two players and cash in exchange for reserve inf ielder Billy Smith. "They had to be kidding'” is a good description of Owens' feeling about the request… 


Since yesterday's game was played at an American League park, the designated hitter rule was in effect. The Phillies used catcher Keith Moreland in that spot (he batted sixth) and rookie Don McCormack caught the whole game…


Mike Schmidt and rookie outfielder George Vukovich, a non-roster player who is not related to John Vukovich, also hit homers for the Phils. Schmidt's was a lazy flyball that floated over the friendly 300-foot rightfield fence, while Vukovich's was a well-hit line drive to right. Schmidt is now 4-for-5 for the spring if you're looking for harbingers…


The Phillies got good pitching yesterday after Randy Lerch left the game. The lefthander, who is considered crucial to any hopes for a title this season, gave up five runs on five hits and committed a balk in the second inning. 


After Lerch left in the third, Paul Thormodsgard (let's all say it together – THOR-muds-guard) Bob Walk and Tug McGraw did not allow the Royals a run…


With the score tied 5-5 in the sixth, Ramon Aviles scored Orlando Isales on a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze 


Speaking of suicide, it might not be a bad idea for Toronto manager Bob Mattick. The Jays finished 50½ games behind last season in the American League East, is no mean feat, and did very little to improve themselves in the offseason. For openers, their double play combination features Alfredo Griffin and Damaso Garcia and their starting catcher could be Ernie Whitt.

Phillie Phirsts for 1980


By Jack McCallum, Call-Chronicle Sports Writer


CLEARWATER, Fla. – As every aficionado knows, baseball is a game of numbers, statistics and records. We are therefore obliged to present the following list of 'firsts' compiled after the Phillies' first exhibition game Friday afternoon, a 2-1 loss to Detroit at Jack Russell Stadium. 


Perhaps it would be a good idea to cut the list out, then look back on it in September to see if any trends were started in this seemingly meaningless Grapefruit League opener. Then again, perhaps it would be a 1 better idea to throw the damn thing away.


Anyway, here is the 1980 list of Phillie Phirsts.

  • First pitch – A ball, thrown by Steve Carlton to Detroit's Lynn Jones. 
  • First strikeout – Carlton, after falling behind Jones 3-0. 
  • First balk not called – Carlton, the first time he threw to first base in the first inning. 
  • First Phillie batter – Pete Rose, who grounded out.
  • First hit by Mike Schmidt, single up the middle in the first inning.
  • First player to throw out two runners in the same inning Right-fielder Greg Gross in the second inning.
  • First 1979 regular to wonder if he'll be a regular in 1980 Rightfielder Bake McBride who watched Greg Gross throw out two runners in the same inning.
  • First stolen base with a bad jump Lonnie Smith in the second inning. Smith was also the second and third Phillie to steal a base.
  • First batter to hit the wall – Schmidt, on opposite field double in sixth. 
  • First — RBI Greg Luzinski, on single to right center after Schmidt's double.
  • First four players who are collectively making about $2.2 million to run sprints AFTER they were taken out of the game, thus demonstrating that Dallas Green and not Danny Ozark is coaching the team Rose, Schmidt, Luzinski and Larry Bowa. 
  • First catcher to answer a question about Steve Carlton that would' ve been directed to Tim McCarver, except that he's retired Keith Moreland.
  • First infielder to be given a number over 50 and thus look like some longshot relief pitcher Luis Aguayo, who wears No. 51.

Abe’s Got The Answers (excerpt)


After three decades, former Phillies' slugger Chuck Klein was finally recognized for his accomplishments and elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Duke Snider of the Dodgers and Al Kaline of Detroit also received baseball's highest honor. 


But what about standouts like Richie Ashburn and Jim Bunning of the Phillies and Luis Aparicio of the Chicago White Sox? 


Baseball is a "talking sport" because of its vast wealth of statistical material. When football buffs attempt to argue the merits of Marvin Powell and Leon Gray as tackles, there isn't much to support their views beside opinion. 


Yet most everything about a baseball player can be found in stats. In the Hall of Fame balloting this year, 62 players (active between 1960-74) were eligible for enrollment to the Hall. Veteran baseball writers could list up to 10 players on a ballot and a if a player was listed on 75 percent of the tokens, he was in. 


Snider missed election last year by 16 votes, and this was Kaline's first year of eligibility. Ashburn, Bunning and Aparicio, although deserving, failed to garner enough votes. 


Ashburn won two National League batting crowns in his 15-year National career. He ranks among the top 50 in lifetime hits with 2,574, in the top 25 in bases on balls (1,198) and among the top five in outfield chances with 6,377.


An excellent baserunner, Ashburn led the the National League at some time in at bats, hits, triples, bases on balls and stolen bases. He tied the National League record for a rookie with a 23-game hitting streak in 1948 and from 1950-54 played in 730 straight games, ninth on the all-time list. He's in 89th place on the lifetime batting chart with a .308 career average. 


Bunning hurled two no-hit games – one in each league – and is one of only nine men to author a perfect game in modern times. He won 224 games in his 17-year career which made him the top lifetime winner of the pitchers eligible for election this year.


Bunning ranks 35th In career innings pitched with 3,760, fifth in strike outs with 2,855 and in the top 50 of career wins. He led the league in starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, shutouts and victories in one season or another, fwelve years ago, he became only the second pitcher to notch 1,000 strikeouts both major leagues.


Aparicio has to be listed as the greatest shortstop of his time, playing 18 superb years in the majors. As with most glovemen, his defensive abilities are often overlooked. He led the American League in fielding eight straight tears and topped the list for stolen bases nine years in a row. 


In modern times, only eight players stole more bases and only three shortstops handled more chances. Aparicio (ad 2,677 career hits to stand 39th on he all-time list. 


Maybe, in their prime, they should have played in New York for the better media exposure.