Camden Courier-Post - March 17, 1980

Bull’s determination surprised even wife


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


CLEARWATER, Fla. – Having supplied her two children with the customary round of hot dogs, pop corn and soda, Jean Luzinski got to settle into her seat at Jack Russell Stadium just in time to witness the thunder.


It struck with awesome quickness, the short, powerful swing of her husband's bat exploding upon a breaking-ball offering of the Toronto pitcher in a manner that Phillies' fans had almost forgotten.


If there was any doubt that The Bull was back, it was dispelled by the sight of the white blur cutting deep across the blue Florida sky until ricocheting off a light tower in the deeper regions of left-center field.


There were oohs and aahs all around her, but the blonde-haired lady with the straight-forward attitude could only smile. That Greg. He's something else!


Dropped 22 pounds and never said a word about it during the damnedest winter the Luzinski family ever spent.


"You'd think he'd say something," she recalled with a chuckle. "I mean, most people would announce, 'hey, I'm going to lose weight... or give up smoking'... or whatever. Not Greg.


"In other years, he'd wait until January and then start getting ready for spring training. I didn't think this year was going to be any different."


The firewood was the tipoff. Every-time she'd take a walk around their home in a heavily-wooded section of Medford, the pile of split logs seemed to grow taller.


 "We always liked to get a good fire going at night and make fresh popcorn for the kids," she said. "But, every time we started making it, Greg would go back and start chopping again."


She knew he didn't need the exercise. Greg was getting plenty of that, what with the morning workouts at Veterans Stadium and the afternoon tennis he was playing at his courts in Cherry Hill.


"He'd just come home for dinner," said Jean. "We'd have steak, potatoes and salad.


"'No potatoes?' I'd ask him. He'd just say no, as if it were nothing. I finally asked him why he wasn't eating. He just shrugged and said, 'I don't know.'"


What Jean Luzinski didn't know was that her burly left fielder was also skipping breakfast and lunch.


"I got wise to what was happening when the beer in the refrigerator just sat there for weeks on end," she said with a chuckle.


"It was amazing. I mean, the kids and I didn't give up on the popcorn and other junk food. And, I didn't hide it. It was all over the place.


"He never showed that it bothered him. Me, I'd die. Most people would at least show some signs that they're suffering. He acted like it was no big deal!”


As she fished in her pocketbook in search of ice cream money for the youngsters, Jean watched Greg come up to bat for the second time in this, the third exhibition game of the Phillies' spring training.


This time, Luzinski ripped into a sizzling fast ball, chopping it far beyond the left field wall with almost frightening ease. The crowd cheered with delight.


"He doesn't look that different to me," said Jean. "But, then, it came upon me gradually. The people who haven't seen him in months are amazed.


"I tell him, 'You got rid of the curly hairdo, slimmed down, decided to wear your glasses... people won't boo you because they won't recognize you."


They'll surely recognize the Luzinski batting stroke of old.


"I'm short and quick with the bat again," he explains. "I'm not herky-jerky with my swing anymore. And, the fact that I started early to get into this kind of shape has enabled me to stay strong.


"Look, I've had good springs and I've had bad springs. But, this one is different for me. I'm 217 pounds and in the best shape of my life.


"It's important to me that I see some results from all the effort I put into this."


Up in the stands, Jean Luzinski was laughing and shaking her head.


"If I had caught him in the kitchen in ' the 'middle of the night munching popcorn and Twinkies, I wouldn't have said a word.


"No, wait a minute. Maybe I would have said, 'Good, now you'll be your same old self.'


"I'll tell you, when Greg makes up his mind to do something, he does it!"

Two-hit shutout has Green smiling


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


CLEARWATER, Fla. – A pair of booming home runs by Greg Luzinski highlighted the Phillies' 4-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, but pitching is going to be the team's No. 1 priority up to opening day.


That's why Phils' Manager Dallas Green was so delighted at the two-hit shutout performance that five of his hurlers put together here at Jack Russell Stadium.


Starter Larry Christenson picked up the victory with a three strong innings that prompted Green to remark, "L.C. looks like he could win a few games for me this season. I would have liked to seen him throw a few more changeups. But, everyone has their first-game jitters to get over."


Luzinski provided Christenson with the lead by following Bake McBride's first-inning walk with a towering homer of f the light tower in left-center field.


When McBride singled in the third inning, Bull belted another one over the wall in left field.


"He waited on a breaking ball (thrown by Toronto righthander Jim Clancy) real good on the first homer and fought off an inside fast ball for the second one," said Green, whose club collected eight hits on the day.


"I expected to see some sluggishness because we've been working so hard," he added. "But, I guess using so many players in the games is helping that."


Lefthander Carlos Arroyo followed Christenson on the mound and showed why he's considered a pitcher with a future.


Dan Larson and Jose Martinez checked the Blue Jays in the latter innings. And, newcomer Lerrin LaGrow closed out the victory in style to hike the Phils' record to 2-1 on the spring.


"LaGrow looks like he can help us," said Green. "We're looking for someone to take some innings pitched away from Ron Reed and Tug McGraw... to take the pressure off them. And, LaGrow looks like he can do just that."


It wasn't all good news on the pitching front. Righth ander Nino Espinosa is getting the "easy as she goes" routine. Ditto for catcher Bob Boone, who won't get behind the plate "at least" until Wednesday, when the Phils play at home again.


Righthander Dick Ruthven's recovery program will get its first test today, when the Phils travel to Winter Haven to face the Boston Red Sox. Dickie Notes, Rawly Eastwick, Jim Wright and Kevin Saucier will also pitch for the Phils.


Dave Radar hiked his tradeability with a pair of hits against Toronto. And, if Luis Aguayo (one hit) continues to swing the bat with authority, the continually-hardening stance of the Phils toward a deal with Baltimore for Billy Smith just might be forgotten.


Phils' superscout Hugh Alexander will wed Lois Weir in Clearwater today. And, Manager Green is slated to be -roasted in Wilmington, Del., on April 14th for the benefit of MS.