Camden Courier-Post - March 18, 1980

Wife’s near-death changes Ruthven


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – When Dick Ruthven walked out to the mound to face the Boston Red Sox yesterday, he knew he might be putting his career with the Phillies on the line. Elbow surgery will do that to a pitcher.


But if the seriousness of the moment seemed to be lost for the righthander from Sacramento, Calif., or the full impact of the day's delightful outcome didn't bring about the kind of response people expected, it's because Ruthven isn't the same young man he was a year ago.


His priorities have changed. New life will do that to a man. And so will the shadow of death as it passes close to the woman he loves.


A Christmas baby, the first born for the Ruthvens, had been awaited like a miracle that would brush aside the unhappiness that Dick's arm problems had produced during the 1979 season.


With the tree trimmed and dozens of gayly wrapped packages just days away from being opened, Susan Kay Ruthven went into a 15-hour marathon of labor pains that would ultimately result in the doctors determining that delivery would have to be made with the aid of surgery.


"Susan was pretty worn out by the time they decided to do the Caesarean section," recalled Ruthven. "But the real problems came about when she reacted negatively to the drugs she was given.


"She almost died."


He still can remember looking at tiny Erik Scot on the morning of Dec. 22, and saying to himself, "My God, I'm going to have to raise you all by myself... and you're so little."


If Ruthven had been rocked by the powerful Boston lineup yesterday... if he wakes up today with a swollen elbow, he knows he can handle it.


"No, I wouldn't kill myself if I didn't have baseball anymore," he said. "I love pitching. It's a great way to make a living. But some things are simply more important."


Today, Susan Ruthven is fine. She fully recovered from her ordeal and now sits around with her husband enjoying their own private miracle.


"The baby is the neatest thing that ever happened in my whole life," he said. "People told me it would be like this, but until it happens to you, there's no way of explaining how beautiful it can be."


A man who usually guards his privacy, Ruthven wasn't about to hide the waves of happiness washing over him on this sunny afternoon at Chain Lakes Park.


He'd been anxious to see action for the first time this spring, noting, "I've felt positive about my arm since I got down here.


"Still, you never know how it's going to feel in a true competitive situation because no matter how much you throw on the sidelines, there is always more you can add when it's an actual game."


Slated to hurl the first two innings, Dick breezed through the test with only 32 pitches thrown, prompting manager Dallas Green to OK a third inning of work.


Green's decision wasn't unprecedented, but it surely reflected the mounting optimism in the Philly dugout.


"I was pleased with what I saw," said the manager. "And if he has no pain in. the elbow tomorrow, I'll be even happier.


"Rufus is that type of pitcher... you never forget how it's done. He'll go out there and throw strikes if his arm will let him."


Ruthven gave up one hit in the second inning and two in the third, putting down the final threat by getting Boston's Jerry Remy to ground into a double play.


That wasn't exactly the Toronto Blue Jays out there today," he said with a smile. "I was happy with their lineup (it included Rick Burleson, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Tony Perez, Carlton Fisk and Dwight Evans).


"I was even happier to get them out. I had a good breaking ball. I threw some screwballs. I was high with my fastball, which is why I sacrificed some velocity for control."


There always is the threat the following day will bring pain and swelling to the hard-tested elbow. But Ruthven was confident this wouldn't be the case. He spent too many hours carefully preparing his right arm for this day.


"If it happens, I can deal with it," he said.


And you knew it was true.

Moreland, Gross add hitting punch as Phillies prevail


By Ray W. Kelly of the Courier-Post


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Solid hitting by Keith Moreland and Greg Gross coupled with fine performances by some questionable pitchers enabled the Phillies to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-3 here yesterday.


Moreland, who is expected to take some of the catching load off starter Bob Boone as well as add sock to the Philly bench, hammered out two singles and a triple during the exhibition drubbing of the Red Sox' "A" lineup.


The young Texan also scored three times, twice on a single and a double by outfielder Gross and again during a five-run outburst by the Phils in the eighth inning.


"It was a big day for us," said manager Dallas Green, who was hard pressed to hide his pleasure at seeing starter Dick Ruthven hurl three innings as well as the return to the mound of the injury-plagued Jim Wright.


Green had a few minor complaints. He thought righthander Dickie Noles, who pitched in between Ruthven and Wright, was "dropping his elbow down," not a good habit fora fastball pitcher.


"We showed him on the video tape machine. He'll correct it," said Green. "But, fundamentally, we did everything we wanted to do."


Highlighting Ruthven 's outing was his use of a screwball as a changeup, a pitch he acquired in desperation last year when his right elbow (cleaned out in surgery during the off-season) began to plague his season.


"Now, I've got my three basic pitches back plus the screwball, which I think can help me against lefthanded batters. It doesn't cause a strain on my arm because of my goofy wrist and the fact that I don't twist the elbow when I throw it.


"It's not a screwball," insisted the manager. "It's a turnover. But he looked good."


The Phils tapped Boston starter Mike Torres for two runs in the second inning on Moreland's triple, Gross' single, a walk and Larry Bowa's single. Moreland's single and Gross' double added another run in the fourth inning.


Two singles and a double-play grounder enabled Boston to touch Ruthven for a run in the third inning. They got another in the fourth as Jim Rice singled, moved to second on a walk, took third on an infield out and scored on a wild pitch. Their final run was scored in the ninth off Rawly Eastwick.


By then, the game was iced. Lonnie Smith, who pinch ran in the seventh after a Pete Rose single, stole second and was bunted to third before scoring on Mike Schmidt's sacrifice fly.


The Philly bench got into the act during the five-run outburst in the eighth, with Del Unser, George Vukovich, John Poff and Jay Loviglio driving in runs.


Phils' second baseman Manny Trillo has some shoulder soreness, but insists it's not -serious. Today, the Phils travel to Jacksonville to play the Montreal Expos.