Allentown Morning Call - March 20, 1980

Race dogs, disco – a playtime combo


By John Kunda, Executive Sports Editor


It was Pete Rose who said, with tongue in cheek, that he was concerned about the rigid training schedule Dallas Green was planning for the Phillies. 


"Hell, the way he (Green) is talking," Rose said last month when the Phillies Caravan visited Allentown, "we'll be so tired that we won't even want to go to the dog track." 


Green did, indeed, run a rigid camp in Clearwater before the Grapefruit League opened. The hours weren't necessarily long, but they were active. 


But don't let anybody kid you; when the Phillies put in their work day, there was plenty of playtime left. 


Clearwater's a pretty active town when the sun goes down, even for the married players who have their families with them. The single players? They find practically any town they visit very active. 


Rose had plenty of time to get to Derby Lane, a classy dog track some 20 minutes from Clearwater. So did some others, not only Phillies, but also the players from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis and the Mets, all of whom train in the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area.


Derby Lane is a popular place for the ballplayers and there are countless stories about their luck and misfortune at the betting windows. 


More on that in a minute. 


For the single players, the town is theirs. There isn't a bar manager in town who doesn't make a fuss when the ballplayers show up. "You can't buy the kind of publicity these guys (the players) give us," one bar manager said.


The customers gape and point: "There's such-and-such… and over there, is what's his name." They're on stage where ever they go. 


The players step lightly, very mindful of the rules, which are, at best, very loose. "You gotta be careful down here," said one young pitcher. "We're just out here to relax. We'll be on the field tomorrow." 


Perhaps the place that draws most single players is Smuggler's, a quaint bar and restaurant on the eastern end of Clearwater. It's a small place, and it's packed every night. A disc jockey plays disco records and does a lot of ad-libbing: "Hello, Philadelphia; Hello Cleveland anybody here from Brooklyn… anybody here from Erie, Pennsylvania?" 


Three miles to the south, on U.S. 19, is a place called Molly Maguires. They stand in line to get into the place. Molly's St. Patrick's Day party was so big that the local TV station did a five-minute segment on the party for its nightly newscast.


To the north, on U.S. 19, a new cocktail lounge opened In the Ramada Inn. The lounge is part of the Aspen Group, the same group that has the Aspen off Route 512 in Bethlehem and Murphy's in the Hotel Traylor in Allentown. 


Despite being new on the Clearwater scene, it is a very active lounge. The ballplayers found it, especially the Toronto Blue Jays who are training in nearby Dunedin. Allentonian Brian Lechner is the man behind the Aspen Group. 


Back to Derby Lane and the racing greyhounds. 


The funniest story about dog racing and baseball players comes out of Bradenton where the Pirates train. It centers on pitcher Don Robinson and veteran Willie Stargell. 


Seems Robinson discovered Derby Lane the first year he came to camp with the Pirates. His good luck was the story of the whole camp. 


Soon Robinson touted bets for his teammates, including a rather large wager one night for Stargell. 


At the track, Robinson had a change of heart. He put the money on another dog, not the one he touted Stargell on. The dog won.


The next morning, as Stargell roared over what he thought was a failure, Robinson quieted him with a stack of money.


When Chuck Tanner heard the story he said: "Anybody with the guts to do that with Willie Stargell's money has enough guts to pitch for me." 


Rose calls Derby Lane a "fun place to go…  I find I can relax out there. I've been there three times already." He did add, however, that "if you stay for all the races (they run 12 a night) by the time you get home you can't get enough sleep for the next day." 


What about the sand and the sea (make that bay and gulf)? 


"The beach is for wives and kids," says Rose. 


And the baseball families take ad-' vantage of it. A good number of the veterans rent beach-front places for the spring training period. While they're practicing, the family's on the beach.


As far as the night life. Rose says "You get paid for what you do on the field. Guys know hat and take care of themselves. You can't do that if you go out drinking. I'm not saying it's wrong to go to the discos, but you can do it without getting stone drunk. Sometimes that's hard to tell the younger players because they like to be young."

Boone returns to action as Phillies trounce Expos, 11-1


By Jack McCllum, Call Sports Writer


CLEARWATER, Fla. – After six months of wondering, stretching, flexing, straining, bending, worrying and sweating, it was time for Bob Boone to do something easy. Like playing. 


The Golden Glove catcher saw his first live action yesterday afternoon at Jack Russell Stadium where the Phillies routed Montreal 11-1. He wasU-for-2, doubling in his first at-bat since Sept. 13, the day Joel Young blood crashed into him and caused the ligament damage which required surgery. 


“It felt real good," said Boone, undressing after his three innings of work. "I had no or worries beforehand but it's nice to see live action. If tomorrow were April 11 (opening day I'd be in there the whole game." 


Boone, however, did admit that the left knee is far from normal. 


“It's not really going to be what I'd call comfortable the whole season," said Boone, who hit a career-high .286 in the 119 games he played last season. "I'm just concerned that it is functional and it is definitely that I can't bend it as much as the right one and I can put as much weight on it and hold a squatting position. It's like when I warm up a pitcher for 15 minutes in a crouch and my knee feels tired. Only mine feels like that all the time. But it is solid and, beyond that little bit of uncomfortableness, it's solid." 


The post-operative rehabilitation program Boone went through makes nine innings behind the plate, not to mention turns at bat in between, seem like a holiday As he say himself: "The most important thing is the quality of work you put in once the surgery is done. 


"I worked on it, most times, seven days a week for three to six hours a day," continued Boone. "I'll tell you, I was lucky to have Don Seger and Jeff Cooper (trainer and assistant trainer). The work was a lot more boring for them because I could put my mind on other things. I'd show up there (at Veterans Stadium where his rehabilitation began I at 6:30 in the morning-and there would be Don, bright and cheery. It really helped me." 


Here's how bard the training was. When Boone began he could move the knee only eight degrees. For each two or three hours of work, he would be able to increase that motion one degree.


"So, may be I'd get the motion up to 10 degrees by the end of the session," explained Boone. "Then, when I'd come back the next day, I'd start out at nine and try to get it up to 11. It was a long, long process.”


There couldn't have been a worse season for Boone to undergo rehab, either, since his job as National League player representative gave him an extra two or three hours of work each nig ht and sent him to New York for meetings at least once a week. 


"I told my wife (Susan) I owe her a winter," said Boone.


As Boone talked in the lockerroom, Montreal pitcher Ross Grimsley was calling for a life raft out on the mound. He had already given up an all-wrists home run to right by Mike Schmidt in the first inning as well as Boone's two-run double, then two more runs in the third on Manny Trillo's single, Schmidt's RBI double and Greg Luzinski RBI double. And that was nothing compared to what was going on in the fourth. 


Pete Rose doubled, then Trillo. Schmidt, Luzinski and Garry Maddox all singled. Grimsley also gave up a bases-loaded walk to reserve catcher Pat McCormack before Montreal manager Dick Williams blessedly sent in Fred Norman. The book on Grimsley read nine runs on 14 hits in 3⅓ innings. "The Amityville Horror" read better. 


●       ●       ●


NOTES – Schmidt is now swinging one of the best bats in the Grapefruit League. He is 7-for-10, including two homers and a double i to the opposite field.


"I'm not doing anything differently." said Schmidt "I feel I've been hitting well to right most of my career. But that doesn't mean I going to hit .300.


The Phillies’ (4-2) are playing good ball and getting good pitching (Randy Lerch. Bob Walk, Paul Thormodsgard and Tug McGraw scattered seven hits yesterday) and Dallas Green is going to have some hard decisions when he makes his first cut sometime over the weekend. "


Yes, it is making it tough," said Green who will probably slice about 10 players from the 46 now in camp. "But I think it a healthy atmosphere going now. We're going to have to look at a lot of things before we make our decisions…” 


The trade rumors continue to fly about Maddox but there appears to be nothing substantive. The rumors also involve McGraw and, for the other side, San Diego's Dave Winfield, who wants to be showered with hamburgers in addition to million dollar bills.


 "If we can't sign Garry Maddox, how the hell are we going to sign Winfield?" is what Green wants to know. If you have the answer call.

It wasn’t a Lombardi type of practice, but it was a nice one


By Jack McCallum, Call Sports Writer


CLEARWATER, Fla. – It was still early, about 9 a.m., and several of the Phillies began drifting out of their clubhouse at Jack Russell Stadium. Half the club had already left for Dunedin for a Grapefruit League game against the Toronto Blue Jays and the rest had stayed behind to work on conditioning and fundamentals. 


Some of the old folks of Clearwater began drifting in through the unchained gates, too, knowing there were no on-the-f ield policemen to separate them away from their heroes at these casual, early-morning drills. Long past the autograph stage (unless it was for their 'grandson up north’), they were content to sit and watch a half-hour of practice, before seeking out the lounge chair or the electric mower. 


There were families, too, with cameras around their necks, pens and paper in their hands and anticipation in their faces. Obviously, somewhere along the line, dad had promised the kids that autographs would be easy to come by at these sessions; it was just a matter of walking up and asking, thus breaking that oh-so-strong psychological barrier dividing mortal from bubble gym card deity. 


"Excuse me, sir," a father asked a reporter who was testing his tape recorder batteries. "Could you tell me if it's okay to get autographs now?" 


"Well, now's as good a time as any," the reporter answered. 


"Yes, I guess we better do it now because in a couple of minutes they're going to be real busy, right?" 


Well, quite frankly, no. They aren't going to be real busy.


If there is one thing that separates baseball from other pursuits de jockstrap it is a certain casualness of purpose, a studied nonchalance, a pace that says, "Look, we're in no hurry. We’re the national PASTTIME." 


It was there in the early morning air at Clearwater – in the movements of the old folks in the stands and the unspoken understanding that this was THEIR game and they could watch it at their pace and that this was good and that this is the way it will always be. 


It was there on the field, too. Oh, the sport has its moments of explosive energy, those short kinetic bursts that cause the fan to hold his breath for a moment, but for the most part it precedes under the unspoken command of restraint. 


With that command in mind, we give you some sights and sounds of a Phillies' practice session.


Gus Hoefling, the club's strength and flexibility coach and the holder of various martial arts degrees, is leading the group in calisthenics. He is a big, Imposing man and his voice sounds like Jack Webb's in the Marine movie, D.I.' At first glance, Vince Lombardi would like this. 


But a closer look reveals Pete Rose totally out of synch with the count. Finally, he gives up, puts his hands on his hips and stares at the stadium roof, searching, perhaps, for another tax shelter. Garry Maddox has given up, too, and he stares straight ahead, shaking his ankles in a time-honored but much less strenuous method of 'getting loose.’


Steve Carlton, by contrast, works hard at the exercises; he is a disciple of Hoefling's programs.


Hoefling is not mad at anybody, either, like Jack Webb was. He glances at Rose and smiles. Whatta' you CALL SPORTS he asks gently. 


Now it's time for everybody to take a lap. Well, almost everybody. Carlton, as Samuel Goldwyn might be say, wants to be included out. So does Maddox. So does Greg Luzinski, although he later takes a lap at his own pace. The others take their time with it, some chatting and laughing along, the way. 


Now it's time to loosen up. Rose begins throwing to his son, Petie. Bob Boone begins throwing to one of his two sons. Bret. They could be any father and son in any game of catch on any front lawn. 


Meanwhile, Boone's other son, Aaron, and Luzinski's son, Ryan, are playing catch not far away. Aaron overthrows Ryan and the young Luzinski skips over to Ron Reed and shouts, "Get our ball! Reed whirls around in mock seriousness and hisses, "Get it yourself, son! Then, he smiles and tosses Bull 2 the ball. 


Out in rightfield, Luzinski is playing catch with a friend of his who writes television scripts. He is there at camp every day, dressed in a Phillie uniform, right down to spiked shoes, and he does a little bit of everything, including picking up bats. He may get The Fonz to come to Philadelphia for a celebrity Softball game during the season. The players like him. 


Now, it's time for fundamentals. The pitchers work on covering first base. The ball is batted to Rose and he tosses it to the pitcher covering first. As. Carlton makes the play, he lifts his arms in triumph while the others howl. His reluctance to cover first in games has been well-chronicled over the years. 


Suddenly. Boone calls for the ball. A bird is roosting on the netting behind home plate and Boonie whistles a throw that lands just in front of the bird and scares it away. "Good gun, Boonie," somebody shouts. 


Over on the sideline. Phillie president Ruly Carpenter, looking like any other fan, stands with his hands in his pockets. A ball rolls near him from the fungo game and he hustles over to get it. 


Carpenter strolls over to the batting cage where Maddox is practicing his -stance. They share a laugh and Ruly slaps him on the back. The tableau is interesting since the two are about $1 million apart on Maddox's contract demands. Imagine Lee Iacocca stepping out of the boardroom-and strolling down to the assembly line to discuss the union's 10 cents an hour wage demand with a guy bolting on fenders. It doesn't register. 


Hoefling, meanwhile, is 'catching' the throws from the outfielders and handing them to fungo-hitter Billy De-Mars. Hoefling's huge hand and a baseball glove are obviously strangers and he looks like a man trying to fight off bees with some alien equipment. The ball keeps popping out, much to the delight of Carlton and a couple of others. 


It was time to go now. As the reporter walked away, he heard pitcher Dickie Noles shout at the batting machine to "Get one over and I'll kill it! The pitch came in and Noles took a Ruthian cut, landing on the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. He laughed. 


"Could you imagine what Vince Lombardi would say if he saw this practice," the reporter said to one old fan, standing by the gate.


"Why, I think it's a nice practice," the man said. 


And, you know, it was a nice practice.